Unpacking Racial, Social, and Legal Drama at Nebraska Football

The University of Nebraska Cornhuskers has been mired in controversy and drama for years. The drama has often been too much for the university’s athletic department, from media fireworks to party houses to domestic violence charges. Now, many are saying that the decision not to give Mickey Joseph the job as head coach was racially driven. Days later, the former interim head coach was charged with domestic assault. Did the coaching decision drive Mickey to violence? At the same time, Former head coach Scott Frost was running an underground student party house where he would have inappropriate encounters with students, but no charges were filed. Let’s take a closer look at this unfolding drama.

Possible Racism?
The decision by Nebraska to pass over Joseph as head coach and instead hire Matt Rhule has led to claims of racism by some. Joseph was the assistant coach and the interim head coach who had served on staff for several years, and many felt that he should have earned his shot at leading the team before Rhule was brought in from outside the program. While it’s impossible to know exactly why Rhule got hired over Joseph without hearing from administrators directly, it’s an important conversation to have about institutional racism in college sports and what is being done to address it.

Party House Scandal?
At the same time, all of this was happening; reports and rumors emerged that former head coach Scott Frost had been running an underground student party house while still employed by the university. The allegations ranged from drug use, drunken brawls, and even Frost himself having inappropriate encounters with students who were underage at the time of their interactions with him. However, despite these serious allegations, no criminal charges were ever filed against Frost or anyone else involved in this scandalous affair.

Assault Charges?
To add another layer of drama to this already complicated situation, former interim head coach Mickey Joeseph was recently charged with domestic assault after an incident involving his wife occurred with strangulation. Joseph had only just joined staff prior to being named interim after Frost was fired and now finds himself embroiled in a legal issue involving Nebraska football coaches – one that has potentially damning implications for his future career prospects if convicted on these charges.

It is unknown whether the coaching job in Nebraska drives its coaches to drink to abuse their wives. But it is clear the job provides the means to behave poorly. It’s not a surprise that the poor behavior is happening; the surprise is Nebraska didn’t cover up Mickey Joesph’s crimes. The Huskers have always been quick to clean up Husker messes. From DUIs to illegal recruiting to condoning illicit player behavior. But the first case where the school does not cover up for its employee is when the coach is black.

It remains to be seen how much longer they will be able to keep up this chaotic pace before something serious happens that forces them into action or changes their culture completely. With each new scandal comes more questions than answers, and while we may not know what ultimately happens next between now and then, there is certainly no denying that Nebraska Football is no stranger to controversy when it comes to its coaching staff’s behavior on and off the field.

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