The wave of the future has arrived, and it has crashed in, of all places, Nebraska.
On Wednesday, Nebraska announced the hiring of Tucker Zeleny as the Huskers' new Director of Sports Analytics and Data Analysis. Zeleny, and his staff, will work with all 24 of Nebraska's teams in an attempt to gain the Huskers an edge on their respective fields of play through the magic of Microsoft Excel.
“I am excited that Tucker has joined the athletic department and will be leading this newly created department,” Nebraska senior associate AD for performance and strategic research Steve Waterfield said in a statement. “I have been impressed not only with Tucker’s analytical skills, but also with his ability to apply these skills in a practical, effective manner that gives Husker sports teams a competitive advantage. Our sports teams and departments stand to benefit significantly from the information Tucker and his staff will provide.”
A native Nebraskan, Zeleny holds three degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, most recently a doctorate in statistics earned in May. Along the way, Zeleny has worked as a data analyst at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln and the Nebraska Athletic Performance Laboratory.
This is not only a smart move by athletics director Shawn Eichorst and his department, but a necessary one. Nebraska enjoys the resources of an Alabama, a Texas or an Ohio State, but without a natural recruiting advantage. Acquiring any edge available and being one step ahead of the competition is the new reality for a department that is now 20 years removed from the days of rolling out Big Red and the triple option and assuming victory before kickoff.