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December 21, 2011

Husker Buzz: Kaczenski a great hire by Pelini

I can only imagine how the conversation between Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz and defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski went when he told him he was leaving to take a job at Nebraska.

Kaczenski: "Coach, do you have a minute?"
Ferentz: "Sure, what's on your mind Rick?"
Kaczenski: "Coach, I've decided to leave Iowa for a job at Nebraska?"
Ferentz: "What! You're taking a job at our border state rival? Pack up your stuff and leave the football offices immediately."

This imaginary conversation is probably not too far off either. Very rarely will you see an assistant coach leave a school for another team in the same conference, let alone a main division rival.

When it was announced Iowa and Nebraska would be a Big Ten Trophy game at a sponsored press conference with the folks of Hy-Vee present, the rivalry almost felt forced.

Something needed to happen in order to really get this thing going. Kaczenski leaving Iowa for Nebraska could be the spark that lights the fire between these two coaching staffs.

I can't imagine Ferentz is thrilled to lose an assistant coach to a divisional rival after he's been in meeting rooms with him for seven years strategizing. Now Kaczenski can bring some of that key Intel with him over to Nebraska.

Not only is Kaczenski an accomplished position coach with his development of players like Adrian Clayborn, Christian Ballard, Karl Klug and Kenny Iwebema, but he also brings recruiting knowledge in places like South Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. He knows the lay of the land in the Big Ten. He's got seven years of knowledge in this league. Seven years of breaking down coaching philosophies and personnel - something no one else on Bo Pelini's staff has.

I can confirm that Kaczenski arrived in Lincoln on Tuesday. The questions I have now are will he be involved with NU's bowl practices in Orlando and what will his official title be?

I was told Kaczenski will get about a $60,000 pay bump coming to NU from Iowa where he was the lowest paid assistant on Ferentz's nine man staff.

Would Kaczenski have come to Lincoln in a lateral move just to make more money? It's hard saying. One scenario I could see though is Kaczenski being a co-coordinator with John Papuchis. The reason I say that is Papuchis is very valuable both as a recruiting coordinator and special teams coordinator.

If you're Pelini I don't know if you want to take him off both of those things. I could see Papuchis staying as the recruiting coordinator and maybe the special teams duties handed off to linebackers coach Ross Els, who served as Frank Solich's special teams coordinator at Ohio.

None the less this is a great hire by Pelini no matter what Kaczenski's title will be. You are bringing over an accomplished position coach that has developed NFL talent and also knows your conference inside out.


Will Caputo play?

My thought today on senior center Mike Caputo is he won't be suspended by head coach Bo Pelini for the Capital One Bowl.

This is Caputo's first offense of any kind in five years, and I think if he was going to be suspended for the bowl game it would've happened by now.

The fact that no decision has been announced tells me he will be cleared to play by Pelini, but punished internally like defensive end Eric Martin.

Caputo will have his official court hearing tomorrow, which should help paint a clearer picture for his status in the bowl game. I wouldn't be surprised if Pelini waited until he got to Orlando to make a statement on Caputo's status.


Sean Callahan can be reached at sean@huskeronline.com and he can be heard each day at 6:50 am and 4:50 pm on Big Red Radio 1110 KFAB in Omaha during the football season. He can also be seen on KETV Channel 7 TV in Omaha during the fall and each week he appears on NET's Big Red Wrap Tuesday's at 7 pm.


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