The quest for the 12th game

Nebraska’s athletic director Bill Moos chats with Chancellor Ronnie Green and President Hank Bounds during the Nebraska Spring Game at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln on April 21.

LINCOLN — Maybe the heat wasn’t on and the beds weren’t made, Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos joked Wednesday, but Nebraska had a plan to house the Akron football team in its dorms Saturday night after thunderstorms canceled the game that evening. The Huskers had lined up a catered meal from a local hotel, too, in advance of a Sunday morning kickoff.

Akron Athletic Director Larry Williams declined the offer. The Zips went home, and both teams are left searching for a 12th game to put on their schedules this season.

That 12th game might just turn out to be a rain check.

Moos said he and Williams “kind of left it verbally that we’d like to play the game” on Dec. 1 so long as Nebraska and Akron don’t qualify for their respective conference title games.

“That’s a loose end out there,” Moos said in his first public comments since the cancellation. “That’s an option.”

Another option is to schedule an opponent for its Oct. 27 bye week. Moos said his staff is in the early stages of exploring the options — mostly FCS teams — for that day.

So it’s premature, Moos said, to nail down when NU might play its 12th game. Nebraska wants to play one, though, and it wants to play at home. Moos hasn’t talked to Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard, whose team also had a game canceled Saturday night, about a neutral-site contest. But getting a game on the schedule could be important to Nebraska’s postseason goals.

“We do want to be bowl eligible, we do want to extend the season, get the practices and all that that come with preparing for a bowl game,” Moos said.

As Moos spoke, Nebraska simultaneously sent out an email to ticket holders about reissuing new game tickets should a 12th game arise. Nebraska doesn’t issue refunds — that disclaimer is on the ticket — and only season ticket holders and single-game buyers through would get reissued tickets. Fans who bought tickets through a third-party vendor would have to contact those vendors for refunds.

NU also hasn’t written any checks to Akron for the $1.17 million payout that isn’t due until March. Moos said Nebraska will “for sure” cover Akron’s expenses, but whether NU pays the full amount may depend on whether Akron and the Huskers end up playing.

“They want to play the game,” Moos said of Akron. “And the (payout) is important, as I understand. To me that would be the most solid option.”

Moos, a former athletic director at the FCS level, said he’s “sensitive” to Akron’s situation and understands how guaranteed payouts help a smaller program’s budget. When he was at Montana, a game payout from Oregon helped fund several athletic programs.

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