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What Qualities Led NU To Hire Troy Dannen?

Troy Dannen

In the middle of the week, Nebraska interim President Chris Kabourek tabbed former Washington Athletic Director Troy Dannen to lead the university’s athletics.  But what makes him qualified to start leading Matt Rhule and the rest of the  Cornhusker football program?  Let’s break down what he is set to the university.

An Impressive Resume

While serving as Tulane’s athletic director in 2015, Dannen hired Willie Fritz away from Sam Houston State. And this decision would pay massive dividends.  In 2021, The 63-year-old would lead the Green Wave to a 12-2 record after a 2-10 finish in 2021. And he was able to maintain the program’s success last season. Some early indicators of this include an 11-3 record as well as a win in the Cotton Bowl over the USC Trojans. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing in his leadership roles.  He was also forced to make unpopular decisions throughout his career. One of them occurred several months ago at Washington.   In late 2023, when he replaced former Huskies head coach Kalen DeBoer with Arizona’s Jedd Fisch. Even worse it was in the middle of the school’s National Championship chase. This leads one to ask. Will he end up bringing the same success to the Husker’s football program?  Or will he bolt for another opportunity?  It’s too early in his tenure to tell. He hasn’t been formally introduced. But there is no doubt that

 

Committee Experience for Nebraska

In  Rhule’s address to the media on Wednesday afternoon, the Cornhuskers head coach said, “Troy (Dannen) sees what we see, that Nebraska is a special place, with special people, a great vision, and the courage to want to win across the board.” These are strong words to say about Washington’s former athletic director.  But he brings more than just compliments to NU. Fortunately, the Iowa native has experience on several committees throughout his career. At Tulane and in his brief stopover with the Huskies, he was an active member of the NCAA’s oversight committee and the transformation committee. Because of this, the Huskers are in a prime position when it comes to competing in the new Big Ten. It’s something that is going to be more challenging now that he has to face his alma mater in Northern Iowa this year.

Midwest Ties

It’s official. Nebraska has hired another athletic director from the state of Iowa. The first time was with former UNO athletic director Trev Alberts. And in 2024, the Huskers have done it again with Dannen. But the two come from different circumstances. At NU, Alberts was a legendary linebacker under head coach Tom Osborne. During his playing days, he would capture an Orange Bowl berth as well as a Butkus Award.  On the other hand, Dannen grew up watching the Cornhuskers on his small farm. And now, the roles will be reversed once again. With  Alberts already in College Station, Dannen inches closer to his new home in Lincoln.

Read more about former NU athletic director Trev Alberts in Who Will Be Nebraska’s Next Athletic Director?

A Critical Juncture

As the 17th athletic director in the Cornhusker’s history, Dannen comes in at a critical time in the Nebraska football program. In Rhule’s second year as head coach, he signed another top-20 recruiting class and was able to sign the most impactful recruit in the program’s tenure. Right now, it’s safe to say that everything is trending up. However, there is still one major hurdle that he has to overcome. And that is the Cornhusker’s $450 million stadium project. According to the Nebraska Examiner, Alberts planned to “reduce the capacity of Memorial Stadium from 90,000 to 75,000.” Will Dannen go along with the former athletic director’s plans and desires? Or does he have other plans for the venue? It’s something that he will have to have to discuss with incoming president Jeffery Gold.

Troy Dannen
Photo courtesy:  Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

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