Archive for Sunday, December 1, 2002

Huskers expect staff changes

December 1, 2002


— Nebraska's players expect some changes to be made on the team's coaching staff after the Cornhuskers finished with their worst record since 1961.

Nebraska was beaten 28-13 Friday at home by Colorado, capping a frustrating regular season for the Cornhuskers. They went 7-6, their worst record since going 3-6-1 more than four decades ago.

Whatever bowl game the Cornhuskers get invited to, they'll have to win to extend their streak of winning seasons to 34.

The struggles have put the entire staff under scrutiny, and coach Frank Solich said he would meet with each of his nine assistants during the weekend. A team meeting is scheduled for Monday afternoon.

Much of the speculation is about the fate of defensive coordinator Craig Bohl, and whether Solich will continue in the dual role of coach and offensive coordinator.

Bohl, in his third year as coordinator and eighth year on the staff, has been second-guessed virtually all season. The Huskers entered Friday's game ranked 46th or lower nationally in each of the major defensive statistical categories. They gave up an average of 35 points a game in losses to the four opponents that ranked in the AP Top 25.

Bohl said Saturday afternoon that he had not spoken with Solich about his status, and didn't know when he would.

Solich is one of a dozen Division I-A head coaches who also is the team's offensive coordinator. The Huskers' offense has been criticized this season for being one-dimensional and lacking the physical power of past squads.

Also in limbo are the futures of three longtime members of the staff - secondary coach George Darlington, offensive line coach Milt Tenopir and assistant line coach Dan Young. The three have a combined 79 years on Nebraska's staff.

Darlington has said repeatedly that he doesn't plan to retire. Tenopir has hinted in recent weeks that he wants to continue coaching. Young said he's undecided on his plans.

Such is the fallout of Nebraska's worst regular season in 41 years.

"It's tough looking where we're at this year compared to years past," free safety Philip Bland said.

The Huskers will accept a bowl invitation for an NCAA-record 34th straight year, probably to the Dec. 27 MainStay Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., against an SEC opponent.

But Nebraska's streak of nine-win seasons will end at 33 in a row. Its 3-5 Big 12 record is their worst in conference play since 1968.

"We had some tough games we should have won," Bland said, "and we had some games we had to play better in order to be close. It's frustrating. To say everything is going downhill and this is the crumbling of the dynasty, I don't really believe it."

The most surprising element of Nebraska's tumble is how quickly it happened. The Huskers are 7-8 in their past 15 games. Had they not scheduled extra games against Arizona State and Division I-AA McNeese State this season, they would have gone 5-6 in the regular season.

"Of course it's embarrassing," Bland said. "When you're at Nebraska, you're playing for something much greater than yourself. It's the tradition. It doesn't feel good to be the team that's snapped all our streaks. That doesn't feel good at all."

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