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The Curious Timing of Rashon Burno's Departure

Sudden departure of Nebraska basketball assistant coach Rashon Burno put the Huskers in a difficult spot.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska basketball Head Coach Tim Miles got his holiday weekend off to a bang. News broke this morning that recently hired assistant Rashon Burno will leave the Huskers to take a similar position at Arizona State under newhead coach Bobby Hurley Jr.

The move raises a couple of questions. Why would Burno, so new NU, suddenly leave for, at best, a lateral move? Why didn’t he join Hurley’s staff in the first time?

Here's the timeline:

  • April 9: ASU hired Hurley. He kept Stan Johnson as an assistant from the old Sun Devil staff. Johnson was well respected in the ASU athletic department. Hurley brought along Levi Watkins from Buffalo, where Hurley was the head coach before moving to ASU. Hurley filled his staff when he hired Brian Merrit on April 17. Billy Donovan was still two weeks away from being named head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder. For Bruno, making a jump from perennial power Florida to a program that has as little prestige as ASU just isn’t a wise career move.
  • April 19: Former Nebraska assistant Chris Harriman takes a promotion at New Mexico.
  • April 30: Billy Donovan is announced as the new Head Coach of the Thunder. Florida assistants, including Burno, are suddenly scrambling to find new jobs.
  • May 14: Burno is announced as the new assistant at Nebraska, filling the spot Harriman vacated and completing the staff of Tim Miles.
  • May 26: Johnson, who stayed on the ASU staff when Hurley was hired, leaves Arizona State and takes a similar job at Marquette. There is now a spot open on the ASU staff. It is also smack dab in one of the busiest recruiting periods of the college basketball calendar.
  • July 3: Reports that Burno will fill that open position vacated by Johnson.

When it’s all laid out like that, it’s not difficult to see why Burno didn’t go to ASU when Hurley was hired, there simply wasn’t an opportunity when Burno was available and vice versa.

As to why would Burno leave so suddenly? The connections between Burno and the Hurley's are strong. Burno played under Hurley’s father, Bobby Hurley Sr., the legendary high school coach at St. Anthony’s High School in New Jersey. Burno’s upbringing was a difficult one, to put it mildly, and Hurley Sr. played a big role in pulling him out of that difficult situation. When an opportunity to join the junior Hurley presented itself, it was too much to pass up.

This certainly puts Nebraska in a difficult spot, now having to fill another coaching spot late in the process for the second time in less than two months. Who will Nebraska turn to now? It’s difficult to say. Miles will have to move fairly quickly to fill this spot, but nobody had really heard of Burno when he was hired, either. The opportunity is still a bright one in Lincoln. While the assistant coach turnover is somewhat alarming, and to a lesser extent the player turnover, as well, the Huskers have brought in more talent, on paper, than they have at any time over the past 20 years and the facilities have yet to have the shine wear off, there will be options available to Miles.

This is no doubt a difficult bit of news for the program to get at the start of a holiday weekend.

Hopefully the fireworks Miles has to deal with the rest of it are more celebratory.