Nebraska has announced that three members of the football coaching staff will not be returning for the 2017 season. In a statement, NU Head Coach Mike Riley announced defensive coordinator Mark Banker will not have his contract renewed.
Two other members of the football staff have taken positions at other schools. Defensive backs coach Brian Stewart is leaving to become a defensive coordinator, reportedly at Rice University. Director of Player Personnel Ryan Gunderson will not return either.
Official statement from Mike Riley:
University of Nebraska Head Football Coach Mike Riley announced Wednesday the departure of three members of the football staff.
Riley announced that defensive coordinator Mark Banker's contract will not be renewed.
"I want to thank Mark for his hard work and contributions to our football program the past two years and for all of his service and dedication as a member of my other coaching staffs," Riley said. "We will conduct a national search to find a great coach, teacher and recruiter as we continue our pursuit of championships."
Defensive backs coach Brian Stewart and Director of Player Personnel Ryan Gunderson have also decided to pursue opportunities at other schools.
"Brian Stewart has informed me of his plans to take a defensive coordinator position at another university," Riley said. "Brian feels this is a great opportunity for him and his family and I respect his decision. We appreciate Brian’s contributions to our program the past two years and wish him the best of luck. We will work diligently to replace him with an outstanding coach, teacher and recruiter.
“Ryan Gunderson will also be leaving our recruiting staff to pursue an on-field coaching opportunity at another institution. Gundy has been a valuable part of our operation both at Nebraska and Oregon State. I’m excited that he’s getting a chance to get back on the field in a coaching role and wish him the best of luck.”
The stunner here is that Riley and Banker are parting ways. The two have coached alongside each other for 19 of the past 20 years. Banker had been considered one of Riley’s most trusted confidants. But cracks in the Banker/Riley relationship appeared this spring after Riley dismissed Hank Hughes as defensive line coach, a move that Banker seemed to disagree with. In March, Banker told the World-Herald that he was “pleased” with Hughes coaching.
After the spring game, Mark Banker seemed to be the only person in the football program that was unaware of Greg McMullen’s decision to retire. At the time, reporters asked Banker about McMullen, and Banker seemed to be out of the loop with the decision by Nebraska’s most experienced defensive lineman.
The defense struggled under Banker last season and had come under heavy criticism in the final years of their time in Corvallis. Thought they did make strides in 2016, under-performances on the big stage continued to raise questions. Now, the focus of the defense changes as Riley will begin the process of finding a new coordinator of the defense.
The Huskers now have two assistant spots to fill on the staff and likely a third as a 10th spot on the coaching staff is likely to be approved in April. Riley has acted decisively so far this offseason, previously dismissing Special Teams coordinator Bruce Read and the addition of Donte Williams, originally announced to join Stewart coaching the secondary.
Stay with Corn Nation for updates on the search to fill these spot on the coaching staff.