The 3-2-1: NU got aggressive to land Diaco
Nebraska head coach Mike Riley officially introduced new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco on Friday at a press conference in Memorial Stadium.
Here are three things we learned, two questions and one prediction following Diaco's Friday press conference in Memorial Stadium.
THREE THINGS WE LEARNED AFTER THE DIACO PRESS CONFERENCE
1 -Nebraska got aggressive going after Diaco
I honestly can't remember a time where Nebraska actively got into a bidding war with an SEC school like Arkansas with deep pockets and won. In fact the last time it happened Steve Pederson got shown up by Razorback AD Frank Broyles and Houston Nutt when he chose to not get on a plane to Lincoln in 2004.
Head coach Mike Riley said they stopped Diaco's plane in the air on his way back from Arkansas and got him to fly to Lincoln last Thursday from Chicago. Riley said from there, they weren't letting Diaco leave Lincoln until he accepted the job.
This really hasn't happened before, as the Huskers rarely try to get into bidding wars with SEC schools for high profile coordinators. I think this says a lot of about the commitment level of Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst and what he's willing to do to win. This is also completely new for Riley being able to write a 2-year, $1.7 million contract for a coordinator.
2 -Riley gives his side of the story on the Banker firing
Friday was the first time we've heard from Riley since last Wednesday's abrupt firing of defensive coordinator Mark Banker.
You could tell the way it all went down has been hard on Riley. He knew Banker deserved better, but he also knew a change had to be made. He said after watching the bowl game against Tennessee and seeing the same mistakes he saw a year ago pop up again, that was when he decided to make the move.
The timing factor of being able to land Diaco and get him in Lincoln last Thursday clearly played a factor in the way Riley decided to fire Banker. Riley has yet to talk to Banker since last Wednesday's phone call.
3 - The 3-4 is something Riley once ran in the CFL
An interesting note Riley shared on Friday was when he coached in the CFL they were the only team that ran a 3-4 defense, and it played a major factor in some of his teams winning the Grey Cup.
Riley has always been a fan of the 3-4, and it's something that he wanted to even run way back at Oregon State. The problem was Banker did not know the 3-4 and they were never able to make that transition. In the football world you are either a part of the 4-3 or the 3-4 family. Guys do not crossover.
Running the 3-4 going forward should give Nebraska's defense a boost and this should fit their personnel better for the future.
TWO QUESTIONS FOLLOWING FRIDAY'S DIACO PRESS CONFERENCE
1 - Who plays the nose and other key positions in the 3-4?
As you start to look at this move going forward, there will be a lot of questions about who fits at certain positions? Particularly at nose tackle, defensive end and outside linebacker.
Riley said on Friday that sophomore Carlos Davis and junior Mick Stoltenberg are the two most likely candidates to play the nose. He also said Freedom Akinmoladun probably fits better at defensive end vs. the outside linebacker position.
2 - How defining of a moment is this for Riley in his time at NU?
When we go back and look at the history books, this will no doubt be a defining moment in the coaching tenure of Riley.
Will firing Banker and bringing in a big-time coordinator like Diaco be the boost this program needs to start consistently winning Big Ten West titles? That's what we don't know, and if things fail this will be a moment in Husker history that will be analyzed forever.
ONE PREDICTION: This scheme will be a better long term fit
Ultimately when you look at this move by Nebraska, there's no question this is the best thing for the future of this program. I predict the Huskers will play faster and look more athletic running Diaco's 3-4 defense. This scheme will allow the Huskers to properly use their athletes and I feel that's why this move was made.
Sean Callahan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and he can be heard each day at 6:45 am and 5:05 pm on Big Red Radio 1110 KFAB in Omaha during the football season. He can also be seen on KETV Channel 7 in Omaha during the fall and each week he appears on NET's Big Red Wrap-Up Tuesday's at 7 pm.