Nebraska Head Football Coach Bo Pelini announced Monday that he has completed the process of hiring his first Husker coaching staff. Eight of the assistant coaches have been announced, with all of those having previous coaching experience in the Big 12 Conference, including six coaches who have spent time at Nebraska.
Pelini finalized his staff over the
weekend with the addition of a running backs coach. However, Pelini said the
announcement of that individual will come in early January, after that coach has
finished his work in a bowl game with his current school.
The offensive staff includes
Barney Cotton as associate head
coach/offensive line coach; Shawn Watson as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks; Ted Gilmore as assistant head
coach/receivers coach/recruiting coordinator; and Ron Brown as tight ends coach. Watson and
Gilmore were retained from the previous Nebraska coaching
On the defensive side, the Husker
staff will include Carl Pelini as
defensive coordinator/defensive line coach, Mike Ekeler as linebackers coach, John Papuchis as defensive ends coach and
Marvin Sanders as secondary
Pelini also announced that former
Husker player and assistant coach Jeff Jamrog
will serve as Assistant Athletic Director for Football Operations for
Pelini said the coaching staff he
has hired brings the overall characteristics he was looking for in Nebraska
"I was asked about the qualities I
look for in assistant coaches, and I mentioned teachers, communicators and
high-energy people," Pelini said. "I think this group of coaches will be great
teachers for the young men in our program, and they are a good fit for
Pelini said Cotton and Gilmore will
assist him in a variety of roles in their positions as associate and assistant
head coach, respectively.
"In addition to coaching the
offensive line, Barney will assist me in a number of key administrative duties
within our program," Pelini said. "Ted will continue as our receivers coach and
recruiting coordinator, and he will also play a key role in the overall
direction of our program."
The offensive staff will be led by
Watson, who directed the Nebraska offense this season. The Huskers
ranked eighth nationally in passing offense and 11th in total
offense, and Pelini is excited to build on that success.
"Offensively, there has been good
success here recently," Pelini said. "I think we can add some wrinkles to what
has worked well the past few years. Coach Watson is a proven offensive
coordinator in the Big 12 Conference, and our offensive assistants have
extensive collegiate experience, specifically in the Big 12
Defensively, Pelini said he will be
involved in all aspects of the preparation and expects his defensive staff to
operate as one cohesive unit.
"Our defensive coaches will all have
equal input on what we are doing, regardless of titles or positions," Pelini
said. "Our defensive coaches are outstanding teachers who will bring great
energy to the practice field. I have worked with each of them during my career
and have great confidence in this group. This staff plans to build on the
tradition of hard-nosed Blackshirt defenses at Nebraska."
Here is a brief capsule on the
members of the 2008 Husker staff.
Watson will be entering his third
season at Nebraska in 2008 and his second as offensive
coordinator and quarterbacks coach. In 2007, Nebraska threw for a school-record 3,886
yards, including the top three passing days in school history. Watson's offense
averaged 468.2 yards per game, 11th in the country and the best
season average at Nebraska since 1997.
Watson coached the Nebraska tight ends and
was the recruiting coordinator in 2006, before being promoted to his current
post last January.
Watson has a total of seven seasons
of experience as an offensive coordinator in the Big 12, serving in the same
role at Colorado from 2000 to 2005. Watson was on the
staff of four Colorado teams that won the Big 12 North
Division, including a conference championship in 2001. He also has head coaching
experience, leading the Southern Illinois
program from 1994 to 1996.
Brown rejoins the Nebraska coaching staff
for the 2008 season, after serving as the Huskers' receivers coach for 17
seasons from 1987 to 2003. During the first 16 of those years, Brown also
coached the tight ends, and he was the most veteran member of Frank Solich's
coaching staff in 2003.
Brown has spent the past four years
serving as the Nebraska State Director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
He also has served as the national spokesman for the FCA and is a regular
columnist for the FCA magazine "Sharing the Victory". Brown and former Husker
Stan Parker are co-founders and co-directors of a statewide Christian ministry
called Mission Nebraska.
Under Brown, Husker receivers were
known for their tenacity and downfield blocking in Nebraska's run-oriented
attack. His receivers helped Nebraska lead the nation in rushing nine times
in his 17 seasons. At Nebraska, Brown coached two academic
All-Americans, had 12 players picked in the NFL Draft and 14 others who signed
Brown also served as an assistant
coach for three seasons (1984-86) at Brown, his alma mater, and was the head
freshman coach at the school in 1983.
Cotton—Associate Head Coach/Offensive Line
Cotton will be in his second stint
on the Nebraska coaching staff. He served as
Nebraska's offensive coordinator and offensive
line coach on Frank Solich's staff in 2003, helping Nebraska to a 10-3 record
and a victory in the Alamo Bowl. Most recently, Cotton spent three seasons at
State as the offensive
coordinator and offensive line coach. With the Cyclones, Cotton directed a
potent ISU offensive attack led by quarterback Bret Meyer and record-setting
receiver Todd Blythe. He helped guide the Cyclones to an appearance in the 2004
Independence Bowl and the 2005 Houston Bowl.
Before arriving at Nebraska in 2003, Cotton was the assistant head coach and
offensive coordinator for six seasons at New Mexico State (1997-2002). He also served as an
assistant at St. Cloud State for six seasons and was the head coach at
College in 1995 and
Cotton played for Nebraska from 1975-78,
starting on both the offensive and defensive lines during his Husker career. He
played four seasons in the National Football League with St.
Louis and Cincinnati.
Gilmore—Assistant Head Coach/Wide Receivers/Recruiting
Gilmore has served on the Husker
staff each of the past three years as the Huskers' receivers coach and in 2007,
he also handled the role of recruiting coordinator. Gilmore's receivers have
posted record-setting numbers under his direction.
Seniors Terrence Nunn and Maurice Purify finished their eligibility as the No. 2 and No. 5 career receivers at
Swift will enter his senior season in 2008 as Nebraska's No. 4 all-time receiver. Gilmore's
receiving corps played a key role in the Huskers ranking eighth nationally in
passing offense and 11th in total offense in 2007.
Gilmore has been a collegiate
assistant for 11 seasons, also serving in stints at Wyoming, Kansas,
Houston, Purdue and Colorado.
Pelini—Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line
Carl Pelini, the older brother of
Head Coach Bo Pelini, comes to Nebraska after
three seasons as the defensive line coach for Frank Solich at Ohio University. Pelini also has experience at
serving as the defensive graduate assistant for the Huskers in 2003, when NU set
a school record for takeaways and ranked 11th nationally in total
At Ohio, Pelini played a key role in the
resurgence of the Bobcat program. Ohio's recent success was highlighted by the
2006 season, when the Bobcats won the Mid-American Conference Eastern Division
and played in the GMAC Bowl against Southern Miss. The bowl appearance was the
first by the Bobcats since 1968. The 2006 defense ranked in the top 30
nationally in scoring and total defense. This season, Ohio finished with a 6-6
record and senior defensive tackle Landon Cohen earned second-team All-MAC
honors for the second straight season.
Pelini spent the 2004 season as the
defensive coordinator at Minnesota State on the staff of former Husker player
and assistant Jeff Jamrog. Pelini was an accomplished high school coach prior to
his first stint at Nebraska. He was the head coach at
School in Ohio for three
seasons, after serving as the head coach and athletic director at Winnetonka High
School in Kansas
City for five years. He also served as a graduate
assistant at Kansas State in 1989 and 1990, and as a
restricted earnings coach for the Wildcats in 1991. He played two seasons at
A native Nebraskan, Mike Ekeler
joins the Husker defensive staff after spending the past three seasons on the
LSU football staff. Ekeler spent the 2005 and 2006 seasons as a graduate
assistant coach working for Pelini and the Tiger defense. In 2007, Ekeler worked
as an intern for the LSU program.
Ekeler brings an extensive knowledge
of the state of Nebraska and the Big 12 Conference to the
Husker staff. Before his recent time with Pelini at LSU, Ekeler was a defensive
graduate assistant on Bob Stoops' Oklahoma staff in 2003 and 2004. He helped the
Sooners play in back-to-back BCS national championship games and earn a Big 12
title in 2004.
Before his time with the Sooners,
Ekeler spent five seasons as a high school coach in Nebraska and Kansas. He spent time coaching at
Omaha Skutt High
School and Manhattan (Kan.) High School, before getting back into the college
game at Oklahoma in 2003.
After graduating from Blair High
School, Ekeler played four seasons under Bill Snyder at
State, lettering from 1991
to 1994. He was a special teams standout and was part of two Wildcat teams that
played in bowl games.
Papuchis—Defensive Ends Coach
John Papuchis comes to Nebraska after spending
the past four seasons on the football staff at LSU. While with the Tigers,
Papuchis worked as a defensive intern, assisting in every aspect of the
defensive game plan for the Tigers.
Papuchis first joined the LSU staff
under Nick Saban and over the past three seasons has helped the Tigers rank
third nationally in total defense each season. In 2007, the Tiger defense
featured a pair of consensus All-Americans in defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey and
safety Craig Steltz.
Papuchis joined the Tigers prior to
the 2004 season after a three-year stint with Kansas. In 2001, he worked with the Jayhawk
secondary and then assisted with the linebackers in Kansas' 2003 Tangerine
Papuchis graduated from Virginia Tech in 2001 and earned his master's degree from Kansas in 2003.
Marvin Sanders returns to the Husker
staff after serving as the defensive backs coach in 2003. In Sanders' lone
season on the defensive staff with Pelini, Nebraska recorded 47 takeaways, including a
school-record 32 interceptions and led the nation in pass efficiency defense. In
2003, safety Josh Bullocks recorded a school-record 10 interceptions and became
just the second NU sophomore in school history to earn All-America
After his year at Nebraska, Sanders served for three seasons as the
defensive coordinator at North Carolina. He helped the Tar Heels reach the Continental
Tire Bowl in 2004. Prior to joining the Nebraska staff in 2003, Sanders had assistant coaching
stops at Nebraska Wesleyan, Minnesota-Morris,
New Mexico State and Colorado State. While on coach Sonny Lubick's CSU
staff, he helped the Rams to appearances in the New Orleans Bowl in 2001 and the
Liberty Bowl in 2002.
Sanders earned three letters as a
defensive back at Nebraska from 1987 to 1989, playing for Tom Osborne and secondary coach George Darlington. He was a starter as a senior in
1989 and earned honorable-mention All-Big Eight honors for a Nebraska team that
reached the Fiesta Bowl.
Athletic Director for Football Operations
Jeff Jamrog joins Pelini's staff as
Assistant Athletic Director for Football Operations, following four seasons as
the head coach at Minnesota
State in Mankato, Minn. Jamrog is
one of three former Nebraska players on
Pelini's staff and one of five members of the staff who return to Nebraska after having
previous Husker coaching experience.
Jamrog led Minnesota State to a 17-27 record in four years,
including a 6-5 mark in 2004, the program's first winning season since 1994.
Several Mavericks earned honors under Jamrog's direction, including two-time
Academic All-American Spencer Dickinson.
Before leaving for Minnesota State, Jamrog was an assistant coach at Nebraska for four seasons
from 2000 to 2003, when he coached the NU defensive line. The Huskers finished
in the top 12 nationally in rush defense twice in that stretch. Jamrog was
a three-year letterman at Nebraska where he was a starting outside
linebacker in 1987. He was a first-team Academic All-American in 1987 and an
NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship