Nebraska Cornhuskers

Mike Riley states post-signing day coaching moves are ‘bad for our game’

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Nebraska head coach Mike Riley isn’t a fan of a current trend in college football.

The integrity of college football coaches is being questioned due to a rash of moves after National Signing Day.

In some instances, coaches build relationships with potential recruits over a matter of years. When that player verbally commits to the program, it’s a rewarding experience for hard-working coaches and impressionable young men.

However, opportunities for coaches can arise between the point when that relationship is established and before the recruit officially signs with the program.

Recruits can be told over and over again that they should sign with a team because of the school and not a certain coach. It’s simply human nature to latch onto someone during the recruiting process, and coaches often become a deciding factor.

Commitments aren’t official, though, until the player signs a letter of intent on or after National Signing Day. Thus, it’s important for coaches to continue their relationships with recruits even if they know they’re going to leave the program for another opportunity.

It’s become common to a see a flurry of coaching moves the week after National Signing Day.

“I think it is an issue,” Nebraska head coach Mike Riley told ESPN.com’s Mitch Sherman. “I think it is unfortunate for the student-athletes. I think they feel somewhat deceived, and I think that’s bad for our game in general.”

At least two instances of post-National Signing Day coaching moves created national headlines.

Running back Mike Weber tweeted it “hurt like hell” when Ohio State running backs coach Stan Drayton left for an opportunity to coach with the Chicago Bears.

Four-star linebacker Roquan Smith caught wind of UCLA defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich leaving the Bruins to join Dan Quinn’s staff with the Atlanta Falcons. Even though Smith committed to UCLA on national television, he didn’t send in his paperwork. The talented linebacker decided to take a step back and reassess the situation before he decided to sign with the Georgia Bulldogs Friday.

This issue isn’t about coaches jumping at better opportunities. It’s intentionally misleading young men who are trying to make the best decision for their future.

According to Smith, Ulbrich actually told the four-star recruit that he turned down the offer to join Quinn’s staff.

Unfortunately, coaches like Riley can speak out against these type of moves, but none actually offer any type of solution.

“After signing date,” he said, “we need to talk about that — what can be done, what are the kids’ options? Can they be allowed to make another choice?”

Report: Nebraska also met with Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham

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As late as Wednesday, Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst hadn’t decided on the Cornhuskers’ next football coach.

The university announced the hiring of former Oregon State head coach Mike Riley Thursday after a brief three-day search. Former head coach Bo Pelini was fired Sunday. Riley will arrive in Lincoln to take over duties Thursday evening.

Prior to the hire, Nebraska was believed to have heavy interest in Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema. The head hog apparently turned down the opportunity to return to the Big Ten Conference.

Eichorst then turned his attention to a Pac-12 coach, and it wasn’t Riley.

“Another source told the [Lincoln] Journal Star that Utah coach Kyle Whittingham was believed to have met with Eichorst on Wednesday,” Brian Christopherson and Steven M. Sipple reported.

Even if the athletic director was leaning toward Riley prior to the interview with Whittingham, the report Bielema turned down the job indicates he was the top candidate for the job. Worst case scenario:  Riley was the team’s third option behind Bielema and Whittingham.

There hasn’t been a report whether or not Whittingham was ever offered the position, though.

While Whittingham ultimately didn’t land the job in Lincoln, he was obviously a legitimate candidate. Whittingham is six years younger than Riley with a 84-43 overall record during his 10 seasons with the Utes. More importantly, Whittinghan’s teams are 7-1 in bowl games.

But the Utah coach apparently didn’t fit all the criteria Eichorst set forth for Nebraska’s head coach like Riley did.

Nebraska transfer Aaron Curry finds a new home in the Big 12

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Former Nebraska defensive tackle Aaron Curryalways wanted to play in the Big 12” Conference. Obviously, he initially missed his opportunity by a couple of years once the Cornhuskers joined the Big Ten Conference in 2011. But he won’t make the same mistake twice.

Curry has decided to transfer to TCU, according the ESPN.com‘s Joe Schad.

Curry started eight games in 2013, but he chose to transfer after he slid down the Cornhuskers’ depth chart during spring practice.

The opportunity to play for the Horned Frog was too good to pass up for the Keller, Texas native.

Curry did have the option to play in the Big 12 when he was recruited. The defensive lineman held offers from the Kansas Jayhawks and Kansas State Wildcats. Obviously, those weren’t great fits for Curry at the time. TCU, meanwhile, will give him an opportunity to potentially start after he sits out the 2014 campaign due to NCAA transfer rules.

“He didn’t like that part at all, but that’s the rules,” Aaron Curry Sr. told the Omaha.com. “He’ll just get stronger, just get quicker and just learn the defense.”

Senior Chucky Hunter will graduate from TCU after this season, and Curry could slide right into head coach Gary Patterson‘s starting defensive front.

Jim Grobe regrets passing on Nebraska, still wants to coach

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Jim Grobe was once the hottest name in college football coaching circles after the 2006 season. Grobe just led the Wake Forest Demon Deacons to an improbable Orange Bowl berth. Multiple teams were interested in Grobe’s services. The Nebraska Cornuskers were the most notable suitor. Instead of pursuing the possibility of coaching for one of the country’s most prestigious programs, Grobe decided he wanted to continue at Wake Forest.

It’s a decision Grobe regrets today.

“I do now, I didn’t at the time,” Grobe told CBSSports.com’s Jon Solomon. “I honestly took great pride in Wake Forest. I had some really good friends there. I trusted some people there. I thought Wake was a little different than other schools. I really, at the time, felt we were going to get a bigger commitment in terms of facilities and support for the program that never really materialized. We loved all 13 years we were in Winston-Salem, but I’m not real happy with the way things ended.”

Grobe resigned from Wake Forest last year after the team finished below .500 for the fifth-straight season.

The coach’s success in 2006 eventually led to his demise seven years later. Wake Forest was in the national spotlight for a short period of time. The Demon Deacons had caught the attention of talented recruits, and the program pursued them. Yet, Grobe overlooked some of the things that made him successful to that point. Grobe was known for redshirting every recruit in order to develop them over a five-year period.

“We kind of got away from that dynamic and started recruiting a little bit better player who probably doesn’t have a good enough love for the game,” Grobe said. “Quite frankly, I ended up spending a lot of time last year with five knotheads who were always missing class, missing study hall, missing tutoring, late to meetings, late to practices, and ultimately I just wouldn’t play them. They were very talented kids who could have helped us win games. There’s no question I could have done a better job.”

At 62 years of age, Grobe has learned from his mistakes and still has the fire to coach at the collegiate level.

“It’s funny to be here talking football, but I don’t feel that same electricity,” Grobe said. “It’s a good thing — right now.”

There will undoubtedly be a handful of openings at programs with coaches already on the hot seat. And Grobe will be ready to take over at one of those spots.

Nebraska loses another member of the secondary for the season

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The Nebraska Cornhuskers finished fourth in the Big Ten Conference last season in pass defense. Due to another loss in the team’s secondary, the Cornhuskers will have trouble improving this fall.

In a statement released by the school’s sports information department, talented safety LeRoy Alexander has been suspended for the season.

“Nebraska sophomore defensive back LeRoy Alexander has been suspended from competition for the 2014 football season. Alexander will remain on scholarship as a member of the Nebraska football program and will be allowed to practice with the team. Coach Pelini and the Nebraska Athletics Department will have no additional comment on this matter.”

No reason was given for the suspension.

Alexander played in 13 games last year as part of the team’s secondary rotation and an integral member of Nebraska’s special teams. He finished the season with 34 tackles and one start. Alexander really came on strong late in the season when he accumulated 27 of those tackles in the team’s final six games.

Alexander was projected to start at safety next to senior Corey Cooper. Sophomore Nathan Gerry should be next in line to fill the spot.

Alexander’s suspension comes as a massive blow to the Cornhuskers, because he’s not the only prominent member of the secondary lost for the season. The team’s nickel back, Chris Jackson, suffered a knee injury at the start of fall camp, and he will also miss the entirety of the upcoming season.