(Neb.)- Cornhuskers' Riley Fires Defensive Coordinator Mark Banker
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - After seeing his defense underperform in some of their most important games, Nebraska football coach Mike Riley has fired defensive coordinator Mark Banker and says defensive backs coach Brian Stewart and director of player personnel Ryan Gunderson are leaving to pursue other opportunities.
Banker's departure isn't exactly a firing. His 2-year contract as Nebraska's highest-paid assistant at $580,663 is expiring this month and Riley simply chose not to extend it...a different scenario than when he did fire special teams coordinator and longtime friend Bruce Read 2 days after the lopsided regular season finale loss at Iowa..
Despite the struggles of the defense, Banker's firing was still something of a surprise since he'd been Riley's defensive coordinator for every year but one since 1997...including 14 years in 2 stints at Oregon State, with the San Diego Chargers, and the last 2 at Nebraska.
Offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf told the Omaha World-Herald Banker's depature was "a surprise to me" with another source in the program calling it "shocking," but the Huskers lost 4 of their last 6 games and tackled poorly while giving up 521 yards to Tennessee.
Riley in a statement thanked Banker for his work and contributions to the program and said he would conduct a national search for a new defensive coordinator.
Two other members of Riley's staff are leaving, but for what are...at least on paper...promotions. Safeties coach Brian Stewart is the new defensive coordinator at Rice while director of player personnel Ryan Gunderson will coach quarterbacks at San Jose State under new head coach and former Riley assistant at Oregon State Brent Brennan.
Stewart's decision to leave may have been influenced by Riley's hiring of Arizona defensive backs coach Donte Williams away from Arizona to coach cornerbacks.to fill the staff vacancy created by Read's firing, but the Rice job is as a coordinator and Stewart has family ties to the Houston area.
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