LINCOLN, Neb. — On Friday morning, the consequences came.
And in Mike Riley’s mind, they are the harshest he’s seen for an assistant football coach.
In front of the media, Riley and Athletic Director Shawn Eichrost defended their two-week suspension of wide receivers coach Keith Williams. Williams, who was arrested on Sunday for his third DUI, will also not be allowed to coach in the first four Husker football games.
“This is as significant of a penalty as I’ve seen for an assistant coach,” Riley said.
Riley began the press conference by acknowledging the significance of this situation, calling the situation “very concerning in every way.”
But Riley did stand by Williams’ overall character, praising Williams as being an influential and important coach for the Huskers.
“Keith is the same guy I hired a year ago, he might be a better guy today,” Riley said. “I know it’s a terrible mistake, and we’re going to support him.
Riley said every consequence was on the table, including firing coach Williams. It was his idea to both suspend and make Williams miss games, but the ultimate decision was a group effort between Riley, Eichorst and other top administrators.
“No doubt this will hurt us,” Riley said. “And it should.”
Riley addressed the fact that Williams is high profile assistant coach, but assured that didn’t have anything to do with the decision. Riley said they tried to do “what we thought was right.”
Williams is one of the highest paid assistant coaches at Nebraska, making $400,000 a year.
Eichorst stood by Riley during the press conference and stood by the decision. Eichorst called Williams’ DUI “a major, major failure in judgement,” and said the two previous DUIs Williams had played a role in the decision to suspend.
“He has a very, very small margin of error moving forward,” Eichorst said. “This is a young man worthy of opportunity and redemption.”