Nebraska Football: Possible Replacements for Mark Banker

As swiftly as Nebraska football head coach Mike Riley brought change to the staff yet again in not renewing defensive coordinator Mark Banker’s contract, names are popping up for his replacement.

A national search firm has apparently been hired to find the next defensive guru to stay in Lincoln, Neb. Here are some folks you may hear about in the coming days:

Former Minnesota head coach Tracy Claeys: Let’s get this one out of the way. Claeys would honestly be a disappointing hire. A defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Golden Gophers from 2011-2015, his scoring defenses averaged at 48th in the nation while his total defense numbers put his average unit at about 43rd overall.

Those aren’t championship numbers and Claeys isn’t an elite recruiter. If Riley was going to drop Banker for Claeys, he may as well have kept Banker around for another year.

Former Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry: It’s not often that you’ll find an NFL name that eventually pans out in a search for a coaching level position, but Nebraska’s got the cash and, this will shock you, Riley’s got the connection.

Barry was a graduate assistant when Riley was coaching at Southern California in the mid-1990s.

He’s spent time extensively working with NFL linebackers with San Francisco, Tampa Bay and San Diego. He also has experience at the college level logging early time at USC before moving on to UNLV. He’d return to the Trojans to coach linebackers in 2010.

Cincinnati Bengals linebackers coach Jim Haslett: The former Buffalo Bill and New York Jet has logged plenty of time as a defensive coordinator in the NFL at New Orleans, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Washington.

A former linebacker himself, he could be a major boon to Nebraska linebackers coach Trent Bray when courting defenders. His connections in the Pittsburgh area would also help the Huskers establish some footing in Eastern Big Ten country.

Alabama Linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi: This is an outside-of-the-box scenario where I could see Trent Bray teaming up with another recruiting extraordinaire in Lupoi and taking a co-coordinator role.

I don’t believe that the Tide’s current linebacker guru is necessarily ready to piece together an entire defense by himself, but a Bray-Lupoi duo could destroy offenses and kill it on the recruiting trail.

Former LSU head coach Les Miles: No. Miles’ specialty is on the offensive side of the ball. There is an administrative role open with Ryan Gunderson leaving, though.

Whoever the eventual hire is, keep in mind that Riley’s staff no longer includes the three poorest recruiters on his staff over the past two years in Banker, former defensive line coachHank Hughes, and former secondary coach Brian Stewart.

That’s no coincidence. Expect the next two hires to be able to bring the wood when it comes to recruiting and it wouldn’t shock to see some NFL experience in the mix as well.

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