New Head Coach, Turner Gill?

As the coaches turn might be a good title for this episode in Nebraska history. A new overall defensive coach, a new linebacker coach, a new coach for the secondary and a new coach for the running backs. And before the end of it all we could see a new asst. offensive line coach, heck even a new offensive line coach and of course, the new offensive coordinator. But, what about a new head coach? Ohhh, didn't think of that one? Think it's impossible? I beg to differ.

All of this reminds me of the days younger when I was a geek for strategy games. "Risk", Chess, Stratego and as years went along, I went into the video realm playing the myriad of strategy games from RPGs to the computer version of "battleship".

It was all based on evaluating your situation and executing maneuvers that you thought would be beneficial for the overall goal. The goal of course, conquering, winning or beating everyone into a bloodied pulp, the game dictating the ultimate conclusion.

These coaching changes all seemed quite straight forward initially. I mean, you have a bad season, the defense stinks and so, you make some changes. Yep, pretty simple.

Well, now, it's not just defensive, it's offensive, it's football operations and possibly even goes as far as an in-house recruiting coordinator. This is where it stops being simple. Now, it's starting to fog up the glass, all over again.

Was the Nebraska team so inept that this unprecedented amount of changes seems appropriate? A 7-7 record for the University of Nebraska would have fans yelling in agreement that this was necessary and yes, inevitable.

I thought that before, but this whole thing, how it has played out, well, I'm not Sherlock Holmes and I don't have a degree in psychology, but I see a different direction that this is going.

If we go from the rumors, Barney Cotton will be brought in either as an offensive coordinator or offensive line coach. That is added to Bo Pelini who should be in Lincoln either as we speak or very soon. Add to that the sweeping changes that will take place and those that are taken place, you have but one person that seems to be unaccounted for.

Turner Gill.

There seems to be speculation that he could be given the asst. head coaching position in addition to his chores as the QB coach. Some say that it's a way to appease Gill as he is not one to be placated, rather rewarded with some sort of promotion to show that someone appreciates all he has done. Well, to me, that appreciation might come not as asst. head coach, but THE head coach of the University of Nebraska football team.

Now, don't get carried away. This might not be an immediate action, but look at everything that has taken place. Frank Solich seems to have done his best not to wipe away the problems of last year, but to also wipe away any possibility that there could be lingering effects. In fact, it's like starting all over again.

Whether he is doing this so everyone on that staff can be "his guys" instead of members of the T.O. regime or not, that's hard to say, but again, it all looks very strategic in it's form.

Let's say all these changes take place that are speculated to take place. Coach Solich has basically a new staff with somewhat of a new direction. The philosophy is expected to be the same, but a whole lot of new ideas just came into the mix. A lot more youth as well.

This staff will be primed for the future.

Solich isn't expected to be part of that future forever though. There was no way he was going to do this for 25 years like the coach that preceded him, so just how long would he hold the job? Either until he retired or was fired?

You look at the season to come and it's going to be "youth gone wild" and no, not just on the field. On the sideline, it will be a proverbial rebirth of sorts, because there's going to be a ton of coaches here that haven't even met. They are going to learn just as those youngins on the field.

You can consider this time the first year in the staff trying to gel as it tries to get the team to gel, coming off the most horrific season in the last forty years. It's like exploring all over again and maybe, that's what Solich wants.

A new staff, new ideas and he's at the wheel, making sure everything runs just so. OR, he's setting this staff up as thoroughly as he can, because he's planning for the future of the team, that may not include him.

Of course, this is rampant speculation, but think about it. It's perfect. Frank Solich goes on this spree of hiring coaches, young, promising, full of potential. He then makes another young, promising and full of potential guy like Turner Gill asst. Head Coach. And, what do you know, he's put himself in the perfect position to leave as he isn't calling the plays, he isn't coaching the running backs, he's basically the head coach that oversees everything the other coaches do.

Turn the reins over to Gill and know that you did everything you could, because though you certainly didn't want the season NU just had, you did the best you could to make sure that it wouldn't happen again. And honestly, maybe you have had enough.

There's been enough conjecture about Solich's ability to gameplan week to week. He could be putting a plan together now that could be significant for decades to come. All these "removals", all these hirings and getting what looks to be the maximum number of coaches allowed.

Would it happen this year though? Probably not. I doubt that Solich would want to leave such a new staff in the hands of a brand new head coach, regardless of how capable be might be. That doesn't change however the landscape of this decision when it's all inked down in contracts.

Yes, this is a conspiracy theory in a way. What Solich is doing now is simply trying to get a better staff together (as he sees it) in order to win games. Whether it's for the direction of the team or the staff, the goal will always be the same. It's to win and Solich is doing what he can to make sure that happens.

It does seem though (to me) that this is a strategy game, a game that not only maneuvers so many in, it makes it much easier for someone to maneuver themselves right out.

I could be wrong. I'll just etch that in my desk, next to all the marks preceding them for each time I have been wrong. I'm on my third desk by the way.

I do believe though the logic is sound. It makes sense and it makes the segue from Solich to Gill incomprehensibly simple. It's just a matter of making the call to Pederson and saying, "Ok, I think I am going to call it a career."

It could end up being the best "call" Solich ever made in the end, because when the time does come (whenever that is) that he decides to hang ‘em up, what he has done this year will surely be felt when he sees the time appropriate to say good-bye.

Whether all these changes end up being good or bad, well, that's part of the game. The game to win the game and Solich has just used his trump card. Or maybe it's his queen as he moves one piece after another into just the right place, so that he can get the proverbial "checkmate".

Will that be with him here? Maybe, but no game has just one possibility. Think of Turner Gill as the other.

Steve Ryan can be reached at or 402-730-5619

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