Published Wednesday, March 21, 2012 AT 10:53 AM / Updated at 10:53 AM
Coach search word play
Lee Barfknecht Omaha World-Herald

So Tom Osborne says he hasn’t offered the Nebraska men’s basketball coaching job to anyone.

I believe that he believes that.

What I don’t just believe but instead know is there are a thousand shades of gray over the meaning of the term “job offer.”

Schools trying to hire coaches often ask a candidate what consideration he would give to a certain length of contract at a certain salary. The candidate interprets that as an offer. The employer — because of the nuanced phrasing — can deny rightfully that an official “offer” was made.

That doesn’t make anybody a liar or poor business person. It offers wiggle room for certain sides to save face. It’s all part of the art of negotiation, which we will report about until the Huskers find their new man.

About Lee Barfknecht

Lee Barfknecht has won nine national writing awards from four separate organizations, and is a 12-time winner of the Nebraska sportswriter of the year award. He covers Big Ten football and basketball, Nebraska basketball and other college financial issues for The World-Herald. You can email Lee at


  1. tayllor1234 says:

    Don’t take no for an answer Tom, if 2 million won’t get it done, offer 3 million, we NEED a big time coach badly.

  2. Gnome Saiyan says:

    I have a hard time believing that a) Marshall would be offered sight unseen, and b) Marshall would be offered, on the spot, before TO had a chance to talk to all the candidates he’d like to discuss this with. If anything happened here, I’d imagine it was more…

    TO: “Hey do you want to talk to us about our job opening?”
    GM: “You’re offering me a job?”
    TO: “Nah we’re talking to several guys, gauging interest, trying to find the right fit. You know?”
    GM: “How much would I make?”
    TO: “Slow your roll. We have a few more coaches we’d like to talk to, but the scale will be $1.4-2M”
    GM: “Everybody hear that? Nebraska just offered me a job for $2M.”
    TO: “WTF?”

  3. John says:

    Lee has consistently been measured and methodical when reporting a story. He has ignored a lot of message board fodder, and been killed for that by some of you. Amusing.

  4. A Fan says:

    The voices of mediocrity have spoken. Barfknecht has to be laughing…

  5. MC says:

    Hey, DCJ, get off your high horse, what credentials of Doc’s are you talking about. If Doc is such a good coach, why wasn’t he able to get into the big dance in the six years that he was here. Doc got what he deserved, good guy but he was in over his head with NU. Get a life and stop telling others what they can and cannot do. It the OWH wanted you as a reporter they would have hired you by now, so maybe you should SHUT YOUR PIEHOLE instead.

    1. DCJ says:

      Wow. you sure told me… didn’t make my point at all by pointing out that the only thing that matters is getting to the NCAA, with the worse facilities in the Big12 and the Big10. And you certainly didn’t completely ignore the fact that Lee has been pulling this “when is it time to fire someone since he got to the OWH.”

      As for me not being wanted by the OWH as a reporter. Last job in the world I would want. And if you unbelievable Hypocrites can come on here and constantly wax poetic about how your life is not complete because a coach can’t get a bunch of 18-22 year olds to a tournament…then I have every right to come on here and point how hopeless Lee and his followers are.

      I hesitate to say this but it has to start being said…YOU are the type of people that let numerous kids get molested by that monster at Penn State. If there were any rationality to fans like you, (yes I know you are not a Penn State fan but there are people like you everywhere) every person who came in contact with that individual would have been more concerned about those kids than what it would have done to the program. WANT TO TAKE THAT TO THE GRAVE?????

  6. ANTOINE says:

    I would never want to come to Nebraska because of their fickle fans.

    1. David Puckett says:

      Just win fans…not fickle

      1. Larry says:

        Just win … or we will hate you, fans.

  7. AP says:

    And how do we all know that Lee is lying? I would guess that this matter is occupying 100% of his job right now.
    If he was not reporting anything at all, these fickle fans would be criticizing him for that. And we all wonder why Creighton basketball has so many fans, now.

    1. Timothy says:

      Bandwagon fans, you mean.

      1. Larry says:

        I think that you will see the bandwagon fans jumping on for next year.

    2. David Puckett says:

      Beer sold at stadium fans..

      1. Kevin says:

        Same ol’ husker excuse for why they don’t have any fans. It has nothing to do with their lousy team.

      2. Steve says:

        Yes, $8 beers is what is selling out the 18,000 seat C-Link.

        1. Hmmm Beer says:

          What was the attendance for that NIT game a few years back with no beer? Oh yeah, about the same as the Huskers draw with that lousy team. About 6,000.

          1. Kevin says:

            To be quite frank, the NIT has different reactions at CU compared to at NU.

        2. BigFRed says:

          Of course it’s the beer, so what.

  8. Fester says:

    Translation: I don’t really know whats happening in the job search and being a lazy reporter I stretched the reality some to make me look informed. I got busted and now I have to issue this statement to try and look creditable.

    1. OWL says:

      Great comment.

  9. Mark says:

    First the melodramatic defense of his colleague after the whole Pelini-Martinez questioning flare-up last year, and now dousing the flames of clearly contradicting statements from the person who would actually make an offer. “I believe that he believes that.” Is there any clearer way to call Tom Osborne a liar? Nice backhanded slap, but TO isn’t a teenager. He is probably one of the most respected and admired men in the history of the state of Nebraska. If TO says he did not make an offer, I don’t interpret that to mean that he was qualifying whatever contact he did have with Marshall. I take it to mean he did not make an offer to him. I’m sorry Mr. Barfknecht, you have written some very nice pieces in your time at the OWH, but in the last 12 months you have left a lot to be desired. Who do you think is more likely to be taken at their word, Tom Osborne or Gregg Marshall?

    1. Fester says:

      I don’t think Marshall stated that. Its sources close to him that Lee is “trusting” of. Of course he state he spoke to three of them but in today’s version of things two didn’t return calls back seeking comment. The story yesterday about the Marshall changed at least 3 times from a positive “He was offered” to “well we reported last night from sources he was offered” to “well we think he was offered, maybe, TO says it they didn’t, but I know deep down in my gut he probably was but I can’t get anyone to confirm it now.” This paper has become a joke. I fully expect them to delete this criticism as I’ve watched them delete most any thing that questions their ethics or job performance. I guess its ok for a reporter to call a coach out as a bad coach, question their job performance, interpret their demeanor, and challenge their statements but when the shoe is on the other foot they can’t handle it.

  10. chumslinger says:

    All this chatter and speculation about who’s on the list, who isn’t, who was offered and who turned it down is useless; just something to do to fill some idle time (or until the spring game, which ever comes first). Everyone should just calm down and wait until something really happens that can be reported. I’m guessing TO will let everyone know what’s going on when the time comes.

    1. firedog says:

      The first sane and accurate statement I have read regarding this whole mess. But it doesn’t sell papers, so we can expect more of the same pointless speculation until the deal is done.