Here’s Why Matt Campbell Won’t Go To Nebraska

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Iowa

The Scott Frost era at Nebraska has come to a painful end. After the opening loss to Northwestern, and struggling against North Dakota last week, you knew Frost’s seat was on fire, especially with his $15 million buyout dropping to $7.5 million on October 1st. Well 20 days before that buyout they lost to Georgia Southern at home, and my diehard Nebraska fan friend said he’s now an NFL guy. 

Their record sellout streak is safe through the Oklahoma game, but their home games after that are yet to sell out, and it seemed all faith in Frost has been lost by the fanbase. So, 19 days before the buyout dropped $7.5 million the call was made and Scott Frost was shown the door…and $15 million. Now, who’s the first name mentioned? Matt Campbell of Iowa State. I’ve seen some Nebraska fans and pages say they don’t want him, I don’t know why, but I don’t think it matters what they want either, because moving to Nebraska doesn’t make sense for Matt Campbell either.


Why Matt Campbell Would Want the Job

While I think overall Iowa State makes much more sense for Campbell, there are certainly reasons that the Nebraska job is appealing. While they are a fallen giant in the college football world, they are still a blue blood, and a historical program with a rabid fanbase, and a plethora of resources. That alone should at least get him to pick up the call, and give him something to think about. 

It wasn’t that long ago that Nebraska was a regular contender in the Big 12; they barely lost the 2009 and 2010 title games, one of them to a team destined for the National Title, and they very well could’ve cost Colt McCoy a Heisman. In 2012 they won the Legends Division to make the Big Ten title game, so they’re only a decade removed from three conference title appearances in four years. History does matter, and reviving a program that’s been down for a decade, and taking them back to competing for conference titles has to be appealing to anyone. Add in he just went on the road and beat their reigning division champs, there’s no reason to think he couldn’t turn them around.


This also isn’t a USC or UCLA situation where the fanbase just doesn’t care, the Nebraska fanbase is insanely loyal. It was a packed house from start to finish against a Sun Belt, Georgia Southern team. Not to say Iowa State isn’t, they are, but doing that in a 90,000-seat stadium, and having an entire state behind you is just different. Nebraska is also a similar culture to Iowa State, if they embrace him, he’d be given time, and it’s reasonable to expect that what he does at Iowa State would work in the Big Ten. 

Resources are also a key issue here, as there’s not much arguing that Nebraska certainly has more, both athletic department-wise, and a larger donor base to feed off of. The facilities are good in Ames, but they aren’t at Nebraska’s level. As we saw on Sunday by Nebraska not being willing to wait 19 days to save $7.5 million, they’re also willing to spend that money if they need to.


Why Matt Campbell Won’t Take the Job

With all that being said Matt Campbell still shouldn’t want this job, I think there will come a day in the next decade that he leaves Ames, but not for Nebraska. He’s built something in Ames and is loved there, he’s well paid, and has an insane level of job security there. He just beat their biggest rival and has his guys fully in the program, he’s been able to sustain quality recruiting, and still has that Texas pipeline, something Nebraska doesn’t. Add in a big question, just how much would Nebraska fans embrace him?

So first, Iowa State was horrifically bad as a program before Matt Campbell got there. Maybe not last decade’s Kansas bad, but at least pre-Briles Baylor bad. The fact that they made the 2020 Big 12 title game, finishing first, after losing to Louisiana, was astonishing. If you told a Cyclone fan back in 2014 that they’d be disappointed with a 7-6 season in 2021, they probably wouldn’t believe you. Iowa State is no longer just a basketball school, and that’s great news for a great fanbase. This is what Matt Campbell has built-in Ames, he’s a hero here, Iowa State pays him well, and his family is entrenched in Ames, he even gets to coach his daughter’s team in the offseason. 

Look over to Lincoln, do they have any allegiance to him? No. There are Nebraska fans saying they don’t want him, they think he’s peaked in Ames (despite finally beating Iowa after losing as much as they did this offseason), they don’t think he could compete in the Big Ten, and that he’s just beating up on a weak Big 12. We all know that’s not true, no Campbell isn’t likely to sustain nine or 10 wins every year in Ames, it’s tougher to have that level in Ames than it is in Lincoln.

Iowa State’s in a much better position than Nebraska is at this moment, despite it being a rebuilding year in Ames, they’ll likely make a bowl game and Nebraska almost certainly won’t. Nebraska had legitimate Big Ten West hopes this season, but Iowa State just lost their best QB and RB in school history. If Iowa State goes 6-6 it won’t be considered a bad season, if Matt Campbell goes 6-6 in Year 7 at Nebraska, his seat would be hot. Does Matt Campbell want to leave what he built, just to start another complete rebuild in a place where he’d have little job security? Campbell is still only 42 years old, and there’ll be bigger jobs that come calling for him in the future. There’s no reason to risk his reputation, with a move that may not even be an upgrade, and isn’t a large one if it is.

He’s Not Going to Lincoln

While I think there will be a day that Matt Campbell leaves Iowa State, there’s just too much risk for a move to Lincoln, with not much more of an upside. If Campbell leaves it’ll be down the road to a team he’d have more ties to, and a job left in a good position, like Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, and maybe Penn State, but him going to Lincoln? I just don’t see that right now.

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