Dec. 18, 2004
SportsLine.com wire reports

HOUSTON -- An angry Houston athletic director Dave Maggard, calling Nebraska "gutless," accused the Cornhuskers on Friday of backing out of a verbal agreement to play Houston in a football game next fall and scheduling Division I-AA Maine instead.

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"This is absolutely unprofessional in every way," Maggard said in online editions of the Houston Chronicle. "It's gutless. Spineless. They're going to have to live with it. I've lost a tremendous amount of respect for that program. I think that for college athletics, it's shameful."

Maggard said he arranged a nationally televised game between the Cougars and Nebraska.

Two days later, Maggard said he learned in a phone call from Nebraska athletic director Steve Pederson that the game won't be played. Now Houston and ESPN are scrambling to find another opponent for Sept. 1 at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

"Essentially, Nebraska bailed on the game," Maggard told KRIV-TV in Houston.


Houston and coach Art Briles have to find another opponent since Nebraska would rather play Maine. (Getty Images)
Pederson did not plan to address Maggard's comments, said Nebraska athletic department spokeswoman Chris Anderson.

"Our policy has always been ... we have never made comments about any potential or future opponent until such time that a contract is signed, and there was no signed contract in this case," Anderson said.

But Maggard had plenty to say.

"This is the most unprofessional thing I've dealt with in my 30 years in this business," Maggard said. "I'm very, very surprised by all this. This is something that doesn't belong in Division-I athletics."

Mike Soltys, vice president in charge of communications at ESPN, said the game was scheduled for the network's Thursday night opener before Nebraska decided to go in a different direction.

"We're going to figure out a solution, but they (the Huskers) are developing a reputation for hanging people out to dry. I think it's a sad commentary on the people running that athletic program," Maggard said.

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