The Nebraska Cornhuskers will have a new defensive coordinator in the 2017 season.
Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal Star noted Wednesday head coach Mike Riley announced the school will not renew defensive coordinator Mark Banker's contract.
"I want to thank Mark for his hard work and contributions to our football program the past two years and for all of his service and dedication as a member of my other coaching staffs," Riley said. "We will conduct a national search to find a great coach, teacher and recruiter as we continue our pursuit of championships."
Banker wasn't the only staff change, as defensive backs coach Brian Stewart and director of player personnel Ryan Gunderson also left Nebraska in pursuit of jobs elsewhere. Christopherson cited sources who said Stewart will be the defensive coordinator for Rice.
Still, Banker was the most notable departure as the defensive coordinator, especially given his history with Riley. Christopherson wrote in January 2015 there was a long-standing friendship and working relationship in place when Riley brought Banker to Nebraska. Banker was Riley's defensive coordinator at Oregon State from 1997 to 1998 and 2003 to 2014, and they also paired in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers from 1999 to 2001.
The Independent pointed out the Cornhuskers were sixth in the Big Ten in 2016 with 363.7 yards allowed per game under Banker. However, it wrote the 40-10 loss to Iowa and the 38-24 loss to Tennessee in the Music City Bowl "were sources of frustration for Husker fans."
Nebraska allowed 521 total yards to the Volunteers and 408 to the Hawkeyes.
The Cornhuskers defense also struggled in notable contests against Oregon and Ohio State.
It allowed 482 total yards to the Ducks in a 35-32 win even though star running back Royce Freeman suffered an injury and had just five carries. The Buckeyes destroyed Nebraska 62-3 and racked up 590 total yards when the Cornhuskers were still factors in the Big Ten West race.
Nebraska faces a difficult schedule in 2017 that includes games against Oregon, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Penn State and Iowa. It needs to perform better on the defensive side if it hopes to win its first Big Ten Championship, and Riley decided changing his usual pattern with Banker was the best way to do that.
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