Image Source: University of Nebraska at Lincoln
It’s here! The first Husker football game of the season. My newsfeeds are full of inspirational videos, most produced by the University to promote the season and to renew our enthusiasm (fever? mania?) for Husker football. They are effective. I am “fired up and ready” as the cheerleaders say.
But this year is different. We have a new coach. Mike Riley will lead the team onto the field today for his first game as a Husker. I can only imagine how he is feeling right now. The tunnel walk. The stadium which becomes the third largest city in the state for seven weekends a year. And the greatest fans in college football.
…and the pressure.
“Be careful what you wish for” comes to mind when I think about the adventure that he has undertaken. Stepping in to lead a legacy is no small task. There is history and context and relationships and expectations that you did not create but are now bound to. There is pride and embarrassment and the glory of victory and the agony of defeat that you were not part of but are now forever tied to.
You are the keeper of our legacy.
It reminds me of a year ago when Dr. Jim Sutfin stepped into the role of Superintendent at Millard Public Schools. It reminds me of stepping into the role of Principal at Kiewit Middle School. Being willing to take responsibility for a legacy is brave…and terrifying.
There is so much to learn. Listening has to be the priority. You need to build relationships so others will trust you with what they built. You need to seek to understand what has happened in the past and why. Respecting those who came before you and what they did to grow the team or the organization gives you the context to take the next steps.
There are a million details involved with a transition but few are as important as respecting, preserving, and building on the legacy.
Today I’m most excited to watch as Mike Riley works his transition plan. As crazy as this sounds (especially from a Husker fan), I care less about the final score than the impact on our culture. Mike Riley has taken on the responsibility of our legacy…who we have been, who we are, and who we will be moving forward.
Good Luck today Coach! The fans are behind you. We are grateful that you are willing to take on this challenge and to work side-by-side with the coaches and the players who will take the first step today in your piece of our history!