One thing that's become clear through four games is the Blackshirts are no more. Bill Callahan was brought in to revolutionize the Husker offense. In my eyes, he's done so. We can now hang 28-35 points on most any team in the country. Unfortunately, that is not always enough with a Kevin Cosgrove defense.
Little on his resume indicates that Kevin Cosgrove is a top-notch defensive coordinator. More importantly, the D's performance this season has had the offense scrambling for the last three weeks. If Nebraska is going to get where we want it to go (and if Bill Callahan wants to keep his job after next season), Kevin Cosgrove must go. But then what?
Here's my wish-list of desired defensive coordinators. These are all coaches who could succeed at Nebraska and, perhaps more importantly, would view a position at NU as a step up.
In order of preference:
1) John Tenuta, Georgia Tech - Tenuta has become legendary in the ACC for his aggressive, blitz-all-day style. Last year, eight teams failed to score more than seven points on Tenuta's group. His genius is overshadowed only by Chan Gailey's ineptitude. He has ties to the Big 12 (coaching at both K-State and Oklahoma) and has coached in the fertile recruiting grounds of Ohio and Texas. One concern - his next stop may be as a head coach.
2) Dick Bumpass, TCU - First off, best name on this list, hands down. Now, Bumpass's teams have been getting some attention for their old-school 4-2-5 alignment. The scheme depends on players swarming to the ball and hitting hard. More importantly, it's designed to stop the run first. If you can do that in the Big 12, you can compete with anyone (well, except Texas Tech). Last year, Bumpass's unit ranked #2 in total defense. Despite some struggles, TCU is still a top 25 defense this year.
3) Joe Tresey, Cincinnati - Um, have you seen the Bearcats this season? They've given up 30 points through four games. Just three of those points went to a high-powered Oregon State squad. Their performance has been good enough to trail only LSU in scoring defense this season. Last year, at Central Michigan, Tresey's defense had 29 takeaways. Maybe more importantly, last year his squad held Ball State to seven points. He was a high school coach in Ohio and likely retains contacts that could help in recruiting the region.
4) Mike Breske, Wyoming - Did you know Wyoming was a top ten defense last year? Me either. So far this year, the Pokes are giving up a lot of yards, but not many scores - a formula good enough for a top 25 defense. Breske recently switched to a base 3-4 alignment in the "bend-don't-break" vein that seems to be pretty popular in the NFL these days (think of the Broncos' undersized defensive unit). He's worked for Wyoming head coach (and Lincoln native) Joe Glenn for twenty years. If Joe's ever gonna let him go, it would probably be to Nebraska. I'm not sure Breske adds much in terms of recruiting prowess, however.
5) Oscar Giles, Texas - Giles has served as Texas' defensive ends coach for three years. He's a former Longhorn and NFL player. During Giles' time in Austin, Texas has consistently had a top ten defense. They also recorded their first ten sack season in a decade in 2007. Given the talent they've always had at Texas, an accomplishment like that is notable. In addition to the obvious benefits of having a UT alum recruiting Texas, Giles brings the kind of intensity many find the current staff lacking.
6) Chris Demarest, Rutgers - Greg Schiano is his own defensive coordinator, so if you want some of that wood-choppin' attitude, Demarest is probably your best bet. He coaches the Scarlet Knights' defensive backs - a unit known for its speed and head-hunting. In two of Demarest's three years at Rutgers, the defense has ranked in the top ten. They're #7 in scoring defense through three games. Last year, Rutgers forced 31 turnovers (for comparison, we forced 25 last year despite playing one more game). The 2006 Knights ranked 6th in pass defense despite playing in the offensively explosive Big East. I'm not sure just how much of this success can be attributed to Demarest, but he'd certainly be an upgrade over Elmasian if nothing else.
Some Wild cards:
--Will Muschamp, Auburn - Tommy Tuberville's seat has to be getting a little warm. Should he become available, Muschamp would be one of the most desirable defensive coordinators on the coaching market. Whether or not he'd want to leave the SEC is another matter entirely.
-- Norm Parker, Iowa - Norm's not a young man. Still, his Iowa squads consistently have a stronger back seven than much of the Big 10 - which, in a linebacker heavy conference is saying a lot. Also, Iowa gave up their first touchdown of the season this past weekend.
-- Kevin Steele, Alabama - The former Husker LB coach is now the defensive coordinator under Nick Saban. He's a southern guy, so I'm not sure we could lure him from Alabama. Still, he's a name worth considering.
-- Marvin Sanders, free agent - A Nebraska native and former coaching staff member. Last seen leading an attacking defense at North Carolina in 2006. Has apparently said repeatedly that he would love to coach at Nebraska again.
These are some names I could come up with with a little thought. Feel free to make some additional suggestions. It seems pretty clear to everyone that there needs to be a shake up of the defensive coaching staff. If, come January, Coach Callahan announces that any of these guys are joining the staff, I expect a finder's fee.
Go Big Red!