Despite denying interest in returning to his alma mater last week, Corey Raymond announced tonight he's leaving Nebraska to join LSU's coaching staff. LSU head coach Les Miles didn't stop his pursuit of Raymond over the weekend, and the attraction of returning home proved too hard to resist in the end. Raymond told the Omaha World-Herald this evening:
"If it was any other school in America … This is a family thing," Raymond said. "I turned them down once. They kept pursuing me."
It's hard to criticize anybody for going home and taking a job they think is better. That being said, with spring practice starting in two weeks on March 10th, finding a replacement is imperative.Or maybe not. With so little time, HuskerOnline's Sean Callahan tweeted that Nebraska might just promote from within. As an interim measure, that makes sense to me. It might be tough to get another guy on the staff, let alone understand the system in time. T.J. Hollowell is the graduate assistant on the defensive side of the ball, though he played linebacker during his playing career with the Huskers (2000-2003), New York Giants (2004), and New York Jets (2005). Last season, he assisted Ross Els with the linebackers. Another possibility might be assistant strength coach Brandon Rigoni, who was a reserve safety during his playing days.
Longer term, I personally would like to see Pelini look outside the program, if only to bring in a little outside experience. One name to keep an eye on would be Fred Reed. Reed is on his second tour of duty as secondary coach with the Ohio Bobcats, spending the 2005 season with Frank Solich, Carl Pelini, and Ross Els. Prior to that, he spent five years at Nebraska-Omaha. After Ohio, he spent time on Turner Gill's staff at Buffalo and then working with the Detroit Lions as assistant safeties coach.
Marvin Sanders? An intriguing idea, but I sense that the issues that led to his resignation probably won't allow him to return to Lincoln.
One potential consequence of Raymond's departure is verbal commitment of junior Tre'Vell Dixon, whose high school coach played for Raymond previously. But frankly, any early commitment at this point has to be viewed skeptically.
While I wish Raymond the best at LSU, I'm not completely sorry to see him leave. From my perspective, secondary play last season took a huge step backward, and that's not all because of the departure of Prince Amukamura or the injuries to Alfonzo Dennard. All season long we saw more mental mistakes from the secondary than we ever saw from any Pelini defense. Who knows how Pelini felt deep-down about Raymond's performance, but it's hard to overlook the fact that Raymond was the only assistant coach to not receive a pay raise after the last season.