Nebraska Football: Meet Bo Pelini's Favorite Graduate Assistant, Joe Ganz

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Nebraska Football: Meet Bo Pelini's Favorite Graduate Assistant, Joe Ganz
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Joe Ganz doesn't need an introduction. Nebraska fans know exactly who he is. They're also big fans of his.

After five seasons as a Nebraska football player and two seasons as a graduate assistant for the Huskers, head coach Bo Pelini likely is too.

However, Pelini was only able to work with Ganz for his senior season as Nebraska's quarterback.

On the heels of former head coach Bill Callahan's firing, Pelini took over Nebraska in 2008. Ganz had only snagged the starting position late in the 2007 season.

So for both the head coach and quarterback, 2008 was really their first year.

Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

By the end of the 2008 regular season, the Huskers were 8-4. Pelini and his team were Gator Bowl bound and set to face the Clemson Tigers.

After a four-game winning streak to end the regular season, Ganz had a lot of momentum following him to Jacksonville, Florida.

That momentum was quickly killed when Ganz fumbled late in the first half, allowing the Tigers to return the ball 28 yards for a touchdown. Then just prior to halftime, he threw an interception that was returned for 63 yards.

Ganz and the Huskers faced a 14-3 deficit that seemed unlikely to come back from.

Despite all odds, that's exactly what Ganz did.

The quarterback rallied, despite a scary moment in the second half that left him sprawled out on the ground. With trainers hovering over him, it was unclear what would happen. In hindsight, the quarterback sustained a concussion.

But Ganz fought through it.

After shaking it off on the sidelines, Ganz returned to the game. He led the Huskers to a 26-20 comeback win over Clemson, earning him the game's MVP title.

Five years later, Ganz is still proving just how tough he is.

In his second year as a graduate assistant for the Huskers, Ganz has been tasked with tutoring the quarterbacks. It all began for him when Pelini called the year after he graduated to offer him an intern position. That position evolved to where he is today.

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He has worked with senior quarterback Taylor Martinez, redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong and countless others. His knowledge has been invaluable on the sidelines.

He's also been a big motivator for Nebraska's quarterbacks. During many tough games, Ganz was often on the sidelines building the players up, especially Armstrong. When the young quarterback took over for Martinez, mistakes happened.

But Ganz kept working with him. By the 2014 Gator Bowl, Armstrong had matured greatly. A lot of that can be credited to Ganz's leadership.

However, the time has come for Ganz to leave his graduate position. He must now look for a full-time coaching position. According to the Omaha World Herald, Ganz has an open mind. He's considering offensive coordinator, quarterback coach or possibly a high school head coach.

"I've talked with Tim [Beck] about his time as a high school coach in Texas," Ganz told the Omaha World Herald. "He said I can't be afraid to try something like that. I just want to coach."

Ron Kellogg III, a quarterback he helped tutor, will take the open GA position.

When Ganz was handed the MVP trophy at the Gator Bowl in 2009, he didn't head to the locker room too fast. Instead, he stuck around on the field for awhile.

"I thought I might get a couple of looks in the NFL, but I kind of knew that would be my last game," Ganz told the Omaha World Herald. "So I hung around there for a long time, running around, talking to people. I didn't want to leave."

Five years later, standing on that same field at the Gator Bowl, Ganz is once again at the end of one road. However, much like it was then, there are a lot of opportunities out in front of him.

One of those opportunities just might keep him at Nebraska.

As reported by Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal Star, defensive backs coach Terry Joseph has been offered a position at Texas A&M. While Joseph has yet to accept the position, Husker fans have begun to speculate what might happen if he leaves.

Hail Varsity pointed out that the vacancy could make room for Ganz as an assistant. Pelini, with help from graduate assistant Austin Cassidy (a former Nebraska safety), could manage the defensive backs. It's not clear how likely the situation is but it's one that could keep Ganz around.

Pelini has always been a fan of Ganz, too. He was a quarterback that helped make Pelini's first season a positive one. He also worked very hard as a graduate assistant for the head coach.

If Joseph leaves, Pelini will likely consider the possibility of keeping Ganz. Many fans have asked for a more dedicated quarterback resource for the Huskers. That person could be Ganz.

It's purely speculation at this point but message boards are filled with discussions on the topic. Regardless of what happens, Ganz has been a big benefit to the Huskers, and Pelini, over the years.

If he leaves, Husker fans and the staff that got to know him will be sad to see him go. However, there will never be any denying the impact he made as a Husker.

Nebraska fans won't be forgetting him any time soon.

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