|Monday, December 2
Solich fires three assistants, and won't call plays
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Nebraska coach Frank Solich fired three of his defensive assistants and said Monday that he no longer will call the team's offensive plays.
Defensive coordinator Craig Bohl, secondary coach George Darlington and rush ends coach Nelson Barnes were let go.
The announcement came three days after the Cornhuskers finished their worst regular season in 41 years. With a 7-6 record, Nebraska barely became eligible for a postseason bowl game.
Solich said he has not decided who will take his spot as offensive coordinator. Solich, like his predecessor Tom Osborne, had served in that role while also head coach.
"We are taking the necessary steps to get this program turned back around,'' Solich said.
He said hiring a new defensive coordinator is his top priority.
Solich said defensive line coach Jeff Jamrog and graduate assistant Jimmy Burrow will handle the defensive game plan for the Cornhuskers' upcoming bowl game. Nebraska will accept a bowl invitation for an NCAA-record 34th straight year, probably to the Dec. 27 MainStay Independence in Shreveport, La., against an opponent from the SEC.
The university will honor all terms of the fired coaches' contracts, which run until June 30, 2004, and pay a combined $525,356. Bohl will receive $207,600, Darlington $179,120, and Barnes $138,636.
"We made some changes today that we think are in the best interest of the University of Nebraska, and I want you to know I support Frank Solich completely on those,'' athletic director Bill Byrne said. "We need to turn this program around and we're going to do it.''
Solich said firing three of his assistants wasn't easy.
"I appreciate that these coaches have dedicated themselves to this profession and this program, but we feel we need to move forward at this time,'' Solich said.
Darlington was a Nebraska assistant for 30 years. Hired in 1973 in Osborne's first year as head coach, Darlington worked most of his career alongside Solich, who was an NU assistant for 19 years before being promoted to head coach in 1998.
Darlington said Monday that he has enjoyed his career at Nebraska. He has said repeatedly this season that he does not plan to retire.
"To have been a part of one of the most dominant and respected programs in the history of the sport fulfills a boyhood dream,'' Darlington said.
Bohl, who played for Nebraska from 1977-79, was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2000 after five years as the team's linebackers coach. He did not return a message left on his phone by The Associated Press.
Barnes, a former defensive line coach at Texas, had been Nebraska's rush ends coach since 1997.
The Huskers are 7-8 in their past 15 games. Nebraska's once-feared Blackshirts defense has struggled since giving up 62 points to Colorado near the end of last season. They gave up an average of 35 points in losses to four opponents ranked in the AP Top 25 this year.
"The coaches can only do so much,'' rush end Trevor Johnson said. "Some changes needed to occur. ... I think change is going to help us.''
Solich was one of only a dozen Division I-A head coaches who also served as offensive coordinator. The Huskers' offense has been criticized this season for being one-dimensional and lacking the physical power of past squads.