LINCOLN — Nebraska’s assistant football coaches are set to collectively earn nearly $4 million next season, according to recent updates to their contracts, and every assistant will eventually have a deal that runs through the 2018 season.
Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst in the last month extended the contracts of five assistants — Trent Bray, Mike Cavanaugh, Reggie Davis, John Parrella and Keith Williams — until Jan. 31, 2019. Of the quintet, Bray and Parrella got raises.
Bray, who coaches linebackers, will make $400,000 in the upcoming season and $425,000 in 2018. He made $325,000 in 2016 and $250,000 in 2015. Bray, according to sources with knowledge of the situation, turned down at least one job opportunity in the offseason in choosing to remain at NU.
Parrella, who coaches defensive linemen, will make $272,500 in 2017 and 2018 after making $250,000 in 2016.
Cavanaugh (offensive line, $450,000), Davis (running backs, $350,000) and Williams (receivers, $400,000) did not get salary raises.
As of now, Danny Langsdorf, NU’s play-caller and quarterbacks coach, has a contract that expires Jan. 31, 2018, but a Nebraska spokesman said Langsdorf’s contract will be extended to Jan. 31, 2019, after NU processes some final paperwork. Langsdorf is still on his original three-year deal, signed in 2015 for $500,000 per season. Langsdorf made $527,875 in 2015, a slightly higher rate due to a merit-based increase that wasn’t built into his contract. He was NU’s second-highest paid coach last season, behind former defensive coordinator Mark Banker.
He still will be after the hiring of new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, who’s scheduled to make $825,000 in 2017 and $875,000 in 2018. He, too, has a contract until Jan. 31, 2019, as do cornerbacks coach Donte Williams, who will make $400,000 in 2017 and $425,000 in 2018, and safeties coach Bob Elliott, who will make $325,000 in 2017 and $350,000 in 2018.
Should the NCAA pass legislation to add a 10th assistant coach — a proposal is pending to postpone passage until after the 2017 season — Nebraska intends to promote graduate assistant Tavita Thompson. Executive Director of Player Personnel Billy Devaney told The World-Herald’s “The Bottom Line” radio program Wednesday that the 10th assistant spot is “earmarked” for Thompson, who coaches tight ends.
If and when Thompson comes aboard full-time, Nebraska will cross the $4 million threshold for certain. As it stands, assuming no alterations to Langsdorf’s salary, NU assistants will make $3,922,500. But, according to the USA Today salary database, each of NU’s 2016 coordinators — Langsdorf and the previously deposed Bruce Read and Banker — all made more than their base salaries last year. So the collective salary could reach or exceed the $4 million mark.
That’s nearly double what Nebraska assistants collectively made just five years ago — their combined salary for the 2012 season was $2.13 million. That was Tom Osborne’s last year as athletic director. The salary trend for Husker assistants began to shoot upward in the 2013 season, when the group collectively made $2.64 million, led by then-offensive coordinator Tim Beck, who made $700,000.
Beck was the highest-paid assistant in Nebraska history until the hiring of Diaco, a former coordinator at Notre Dame and a former head coach at Connecticut.
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Tyjon Lindsey, a unanimous four-star prospect, appeared at Nebraska’s Friday Night Lights camp and wowed onlooking fans with his speed. In three years at Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) High School, Lindsey, Rivals' 62nd ranked player nationally and No. 9 wide receiver prospect, caught 84 passes for 2,126 yards — a 25.3-yard average — and 31 touchdowns.
Mike Riley’s California roots came in handy with Lamar Jackson, right, as the Huskers secured a commitment from the state’s No. 13 player the day before National Signing Day. Jackson was a consensus four-star prospect and Rivals' 76th-ranked player nationally. He was also the highest-rated prospect from California that NU has signed since at least 2002, as far back as the recruiting rankings go.
Eric Lee, a consensus four-star cornerback, committed to the Huskers from Highlands Ranch (Colorado) Valor Christian as Rivals' 119th-ranked player nationally and the No. 1 prospect from Colorado.
Highland (Ill.) High School offensive lineman Tanner Farmer was Rivals' 82nd-ranked player and a four-star by most recruiting services. Farmer has developed into a key cog on NU's offensive line.
Terrell Newby was a consensus four-star running back out of Los Angeles Chaminade High School and Rivals' 75th-ranked player nationally. Newby rushed for 2,239 yards in his career, finishing 23rd on Nebraska's career rushing list.
Paul Thurston came to the Huskers as a consensus four-star recruit and Rivals' 147th-ranked player nationally, but played a limited role on the offensive line. Thurston stepped in for Ryne Reeves in the Foster Farms Bowl and helped NU rush for 326 yards against UCLA. He transferred to Colorado State for his senior season.
Aaron Green picked NU over Texas, Florida State and California and was Rivals' No. 61 player overall. Green had 105 rushing yards while backing up Rex Burkhead as a true freshman, but transferred to TCU before his sophomore season.
Andrew Rodriguez, from Aurora, was a four-star recruit and the 183rd-ranked player, according to Rivals. Rodriguez was a mainstay on the offensive line throughout his NU career, consistently showing the versatility to play multiple positions on the line. He received honorable-mention All-Big Ten accolades for his play in 2013, when Ameer Abdullah rushed for 1,690 yards, the most by a Husker since 1997. I-Back Braylon Heard was Rivals' No. 57 player overall, but didn't qualify academically.
Cody Green, a four-star recruit, was Rivals' No. 173 ranked player and became NU's first true freshman quarterback to start since Tommie Frazier in 1992. Green threw for 340 yards and three scores while backing up Taylor Martinez as a sophomore, but transferred to Tulsa after the season.
Baker Steinkuhler, a five-star offensive lineman from Lincoln Southwest, was Rivals’ No. 8 player. His father, Dean, won the 1983 Outland Trophy. However, Steinkuhler moved to the defensive line and became a Blackshirt. Steinkuhler had a productive career and earned second team All-Big Ten honors as a senior.
Niles Paul was Rivals’ 73rd-ranked player nationally and a four-star wide receiver out of Omaha North. When he finished his career, Paul’s career total of 4,122 all-purpose yards ranked fifth at Nebraska.
Rickey Thenarse, a four-star recruit, was Rivals' No. 239 player and picked NU over USC, UCLA, California, Colorado, Fresno State, Oregon and Washington. Thenarse ended his Husker career with 106 total tackles and three interceptions. He had a blocked punt in the Gator Bowl win over Clemson.
Marlon Lucky, a five-star running back from California, was Rivals' No. 13th-ranked player nationally. Lucky finished his Husker career as one of the most productive all-purpose players in NU history and his 75 receptions in 2007 is a Nebraska single season record. After his senior season, Lucky's 4,214 career all-purpose yards ranked fourth in school history.
Rivals' 42nd-ranked player nationally, Lydon Murtha — a four-star offensive lineman — was a fixture for the Huskers' line despite being hampered by injuries. He earned honorable-mention All-Big 12 honors for his role in 2008, helping Nebraska average more than 210 rushing yards per game over the second half of the season and score 30 or more points 10 times.
A four-star recruit, Bo Ruud was Rivals' No. 10 ranked linebacker in 2003. Ruud earned first team All-Big 12 honors in 2006 and finished his career 22nd among Nebraska's career tackle leaders with 216. He finished with six career fumbles forced, four fumble recoveries and five interceptions. Ruud returned three of his picks for a touchdown and his 93-yard return against Iowa State is a record for Husker linebackers.
David Horne, a four-star running back from Omaha Central, was Rivals 78th-ranked player nationally and earned first team All-Nebraska honors from The World-Herald. Horne picked NU over Colorado, Michigan, Notre Dame, Iowa and Iowa State and flashed potential as a true freshman, rushing for 651 yards, the fourth-best total ever by a Husker freshman. However, he was dismissed from the team after his junior year for a violation of team rules.
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Jan. 1, 1964: Nebraska defeated Auburn 13-7 in the Orange Bowl. "It was true what they said about Nebraska being a big, strong and resourceful football team," Miami Herald sports editor Jimmy Burns wrote after the game. "The Cornhuskers lived up to that reputation here."
Jan. 2, 1967: Alabama defeated Nebraska 34-7 in the Sugar Bowl. It was the worst defeat suffered by Nebraska since Oklahoma topped Bob Devaney’s first Husker squad, 34-6, in 1962. Nebraska quarterback Bob Churchich did set a then-NU passing record with 21 completions.
Dec. 20, 1969: Nebraska defeated Georgia 45-6 in the Sun Bowl. "Nebraska's mean Cornhuskers kicked the Georgia Bulldog to death in the first quarter Saturday," then-World-Herald sports editor Wally Provost wrote. The Huskers had six interceptions and recovered two fumbles in the rout.
Jan. 1, 1973: Nebraska defeated Notre Dame 40-6 in the Orange Bowl. The win marked the final game in coach Bob Devaney's career. "A golden era in Cornhuskerdom ended late Monday night in the sauna bath-like heat of the Orange Bowl with the man who made it all possible riding high on the shoulders of his players," The World-Herald's Tom Allan wrote. "And riding even higher in the hearts of all Nebraskans."
Jan. 1, 1974: Nebraska knocked off Texas 19-3 in the Cotton Bowl. Steve Runty, who was playing his final game, waited through a redshirt season and three more years as a substitute before finally getting his chance in the second half against the Longhorns. The Huskers broke a 3-3 tie and outscored Texas 16-0 with Runty under center.
Dec. 26, 1975: Arizona State defeated Nebraska 17-14 in the Fiesta Bowl. Dan Kush, son of ASU coach Frank Kush, was given playing time after his mom "threatened" the coach. It worked, as the kicker connected on three field goals, including the game-winner from 29-yards out with 4:50 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Dec. 30, 1976: Nebraska defeated Texas Tech 27-24 in the Astro-Blue Bonnet Bowl. Husker defensive lineman Ron Pruitt stripped the ball from Red Raider quarterback Rodney Allison in the closing seconds, and Reg Gast recovered to clinch the NU victory.
Jan. 1, 1982: Clemson defeated Nebraska 22-15 in the Orange Bowl to claim the national championship. Roger Craig's 26-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion in the fourth quarter cut the Tigers' lead from 22-7, but NU couldn't finish the comeback.
Jan. 1, 1986: Nebraska lost to Michigan 27-23 in the Fiesta Bowl. The Huskers had more rushing yards (304-171), more passing yards (66-63), more return yards (20-3), more time of possession (32:01 to 27:59) and a better ratio of third-down conversions (7 of 17 to 4 of 14), but also had four turnovers to Michigan's none.
Jan. 1, 1988: Florida State topped Nebraska 31-28 in the Fiesta Bowl. Nebraska I-back Tyreese Knox’s fumble at the Florida State 3-yard line kept the Huskers from turning a 28-24 lead into an 11-point edge with 6:58 left in the game, and FSU quarterback Danny McManus finished a 97-yard, game-winning drive with a 15-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal.
Jan. 1, 1995: Nebraska claimed the national championship with a 24-17 win over Miami in the Orange Bowl. Fullback Cory Schlesinger scored two touchdowns in the final eight minutes. Miami had one last gasp, but Kareem Moss intercepted a pass to clinch the title for Nebraska.
Jan. 2, 1996: Nebraska claimed its second consecutive national championship by defeating Florida 62-24 in the Fiesta Bowl. Tommie Frazier ran 16 times for 199 yards and two touchdowns, and completed 6 of 14 passes for 105 yards and another score.
Jan. 2, 1998: Nebraska won its third national title in four seasons by defeating Tennessee 42-17 in the Orange Bowl. The Huskers entered the game neck-and-neck with Michigan to claim the national title. Said defensive tackle Jason Peter: "Don't give it to Michigan because they haven't seen the national title in 45 years. Give it to us because we're the best team in the country."
Jan. 3, 2002: Nebraska was "blown away" by Miami in the national championship. The Hurricanes won 37-14. When coupled with Nebraska's prior loss to Colorado, it marked the first time NU had lost back-to-back games since 1990.
Jan. 1, 2009: Bo Pelini won nine games in his first year as Nebraska's coach by defeating Clemson 26-21 in the Gator Bowl. With the Tigers at the NU 10-yard line, the Husker defense stepped up. Nebraska batted down a pass, pushed Clemson back 16 yards with a sack and forced back-to-back incompletions to clinch the game.
Dec. 30, 2009: Nebraska defeated Arizona 33-0 in the Holiday Bowl. Nebraska limited Arizona’s pass-happy attack to 109 yards and six first downs, pitching its first postseason shutout, the first in 14 years of Big 12 bowl-game history and the first in Holiday Bowl history.