When Bill Moos accepted the job to become Nebraska’s athletic director last fall, it was clear early on that he set the bar sky-high for the football program.

He spoke with a confidence that was rarely seen for an athletic director. Shortly after he fired Mike Riley, he mentioned Scott Frost by name and basically declared his love for the then-UCF coach.

Swagger, Moos isn’t lacking.

As for common sense and a clear understanding of the big picture, I question that a bit after what he said on Tuesday about Nebraska’s sky-high expectations.

“You’ve got Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh thinking, ‘We better put a little more into that Nebraska game coming up.’ And that’s the way we want it. They’re running a little bit scared right now,” Moos said via the Omaha World-Herald. “And they won’t admit it. We’ll leave that at that.”

Moos did tell the Associated Press in a text message that his comments were “tongue-in-cheek” and that he was merely trying to say that the competition is aware that Nebraska is trying to get back into the hunt.

But the point still stands. On all fronts, suggesting that anyone is scared of a team that won four games last year is rich.

Yes, we all know that Scott Frost will spend the next 25-30 years turning Nebraska into the program it was under Tom Osborne and the Huskers will again be the standard for college football.

OK, that was a bit tongue-in-cheek, too.

To get there, though, it isn’t Michigan and Ohio State that’s keeping Nebraska down. Well, Ohio State kept Nebraska down in last year’s 62-3 drubbing in Lincoln. And when the Huskers travel to Columbus and Ann Arbor this season, they’ll likely be kept down again.

Meyer and Harbaugh have a yearly expectation to be in the national title hunt. Their teams both played in at least one New Year’s Six bowl the last two years and they were disappointed to be there.

You know what disappoints Nebraska fans? Losing to Iowa and Wisconsin. Three years in a row, the Huskers failed to beat either of their B1G West rivals. In fact, they were outscored by a combined total of 208-99 in that stretch during the Riley era. Nebraska didn’t finish higher than Iowa or Wisconsin in the division standings the last few years.

But sure, Moos. Let’s act like the two most powerful coaches in the conference — one has three national championship rings, while the other rebuilt a pair of Power 5 teams and coached in a Super Bowl five years ago — are running scared.

If Moos is going to publicly take aim at anyone, he should probably start with the teams Nebraska is actually competing against on a yearly basis. At least they’re trying to compete against them.

Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Frost was brought to Nebraska to do that above all else. In doing that, he can make Nebraska a program that has a high floor that’s in the top 25 nationally on a yearly basis.

You know, like Wisconsin.

The Badgers accomplished that feat in 12 of the last 14 seasons and did so with four different head coaches. Why shouldn’t Wisconsin be the program that Moos hopes is “running scared” because of Frost’s arrival? The Badgers are the ones who cruised to three of the last four division titles. They’re the ones who built the model that Nebraska should’ve been following for the last decade.

And obviously, Moos isn’t responsible for what’s in the past. It’s his job to learn from the mistakes that were made under his predecessor Shawn Eichorst. One of those mistakes was not finding the right person to revive Nebraska. Moos is already ahead of Eichorst in that regard.

If Moos and Frost only had the ultimate goal of beating Iowa and Wisconsin, Nebraska fans wouldn’t feel like that was setting the bar high enough. Of course the goal is to get to the level of Michigan and Ohio State (more like Penn State and Ohio State, really).

But calling out those programs — even if it was tongue-in-cheek — isn’t the best look. At least not now. Frost hasn’t coached a game yet. The last time we saw Nebraska play in an actual game, Iowa stole its lunch money and gave it a swirly. College football fans haven’t forgotten that. You set yourself up to get mocked.

This was a good early reminder to Moos that things spread a bit quicker in Lincoln than they did in Eugene or Pullman. Maybe he realized that when he walked his comment back.

If the Huskers are able to get over that Iowa/Wisconsin hump and put themselves in position to win a division title, sure, call out the most high-profile programs in the conference if you want. Maybe in a couple years, that time will come.

Until then, though, Moos shouldn’t let a comment like that leave his tongue or cheek.