Nebraska has its next athletic director. On Wednesday, the Huskers officially announced they’ve hired Washington’s Troy Dannen to replace Trev Alberts atop the Nebraska athletic department. Husker fans should approach the hire with a healthy degree of skepticism.

Dannen graduated from Northern Iowa in 1989. In 2008, he took over as the school’s athletic director and served for 8 years. In 2015, he took the same job at Tulane and spent another 8 years building Tulane’s athletic department with a relentless fundraising effort. In October 2023, he took over the Washington athletic department.

When Jen Cohen left the school to take the same position at USC, Dannen called her not 24 hours later to ask about the UW job she was leaving behind.

“Jen really reiterated for me, everything’s in place,” Dannen said during an October radio interview on 93.3 KJR FM in Seattle. “I’m not moving again. This is going to be my third job. This is going to be my last job.

“I want to go someplace where you can win. I love Tulane. You’re not going to win a national championship at Tulane. You can win national championships here, and it’s been proven.”

Five months later, Dannen left his last job for his fourth job.

Nebraska’s announcement touted Dannen’s Midwestern roots. It was noted in the school’s release that he grew up on a farm just outside Marshalltown, Iowa. The Nebraska system — a painfully tight-knit group that loves to hire its own — has seen Scott Frost fail and Alberts run in recent years, but neither would be a deterrent to another culture hire.

Alberts spent less than 3 years on the job at NU. His predecessor, Bill Moos, spent less than 4 years in Lincoln before retiring. Folks in Lincoln don’t speak about the guy who came before Moos.

And the next system president — which Chris Dunker of the Lincoln Journal Star reports will be UNMC chancellor Dr. Jeffrey Gold — will be the third president the school has had since 2015.

The school is in dire need of stability. To that end, Dannen’s last 6 months pose questions.

Upon accepting the Washington job, Dannen seemed to burn some bridges at Tulane. But such is life in the business of college athletics. He’s hardly the first to leave for a larger paycheck at a school with more weight behind its name. And he wasn’t wrong about the distinction between Tulane and UW.

In Dannen’s first fall, Washington’s football team played for a national championship.

But the coach who led UW to the title game was hired by Cohen. Dannen tried to get Kalen DeBoer locked into a long-term contract extension and failed to do so. When DeBoer was linked to the Texas A&M job in early November, DeBoer said Dannen was talking with him often about a new contract.

Around Thanksgiving, Dannen said he offered an $8.7 million-per-year contract to DeBoer but couldn’t get a signature on it. After UW won the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day to advance to the College Football Playoff National Championship, Dannen said he went back to DeBoer’s camp with a $9.4 million-per-year deal.

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Two weeks later, Nick Saban retired at Alabama and DeBoer left Dannen high and dry. Washington worked quickly to name Arizona’s Jedd Fisch as DeBoer’s replacement.

On the heels of a 10-win season and one of the fastest rebuilds in Arizona program history, Washington doubled Fisch’s annual salary to bring him aboard. It wasn’t the same deal that was put in front of DeBoer, but it was a significant investment in a coach with 1 winning season.

It was also just the second football hire Dannen has made at the FBS level. After a 3-9 season in 2015, Tulane fired coach Curtis Johnson and held off on hiring his replacement until it brought Dannen aboard. Once he got to town, Dannen hired Willie Fritz from Georgia Southern.

In Fritz’s first 6 years, he went 31-43. In 2022, Fritz led the Green Wave to a 12-2 record and a Cotton Bowl victory. Tulane won its first AAC championship in program history and just the second conference championship since 1948.

Fritz engineered another 11-win season in 2023 before leaving to take the Houston job last December.

How Fisch fares in the Big Ten remains to be seen. Washington is among the teams with the lowest percentage of returning production in the country in 2024. But he was a popular name and Dannen made it happen.

At Nebraska, Dannen doesn’t get to pick his head football coach. He inherits Matt Rhule, who made it known that Alberts and former president Ted Carter were key figures in his decision to join the program a year ago. The working relationship between Dannen and Rhule is going to be under a microscope this first year, and it has to work.

Prior to Alberts’ departure, Nebraska had some momentum for the first time in what seems like a long time. Fred Hoiberg’s basketball program has turned a corner and will seek the school’s first-ever NCAA Tournament win later this week. Rhule signed 5-star quarterback Dylan Raiola in the 2024 class.

The football program hasn’t been to a bowl game since 2016. That was also the last time Nebraska won more than 3 conference games in a season. After a 5-7 debut season, Rhule and the Huskers have reason for optimism in 2024.

If Rhule delivers, Nebraska needs to do whatever is necessary to keep him in town, keep his staff intact, and build the roster.

For his part, Rhule seems thrilled with the hire.

“It’s no slight to the University of Washington … but I just know that he wanted to come home, and he wanted to be here,” Husker football coach Matt Rhule told reporters on Wednesday. “The University of Nebraska took a step forward today.”

Added interim president Chris Kabourek in a statement: “Husker Nation, we’ve found a winner in Troy Dannen.”

That much is true. Nebraska will reportedly pay him well, too. And the act of getting Dannen signals that the block N, while not on the same level as Ohio State or, I guess, Texas A&M, still has plenty of pull.