LINCOLN, Neb. — After the press conference introducing new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco on Friday afternoon, Nebraska head coach Mike Riley gave some insight on why he fired former defensive coordinator Mark Banker, a longtime friend, over the phone nine days ago.
The main reason, Riley said, was he was pressed for time and needed to do it quickly to get the coordinator he wanted.
Riley said the decision to ultimately let Banker go came after Riley watched film of Nebraska’s 38-24 loss to Tennessee in the Music City Bowl.
“Some of the things that we had kind of earmarked that needed to be changed from a year ago were the same things I saw that we had some issues in the game,” Riley said.
After reviewing the tape, and thinking about the past two years, Riley said he decided Nebraska needed a change on the defense.
On Jan. 11, Riley called Banker to let him know his contract would not be renewed. At the time, Banker was in Denver International Airport during a recruiting trip.
“This wasn’t a brand new thought as of Wednesday, neither the thought about Mark or the thought about Bob,” Riley said.
Riley and Banker coached together 19 of the past 20 years at USC, Oregon State, the San Diego Chargers, back to Oregon State and ultimately at Nebraska.
Riley said on Friday he understands that.
“You can understand how hard this was for me, knowing Mark and working with him for as long as I have,” Riley said. “I can understand why he is (mad). That is not the way I would have done it. Like I said, I ran in to a logistical problem that, I think you guys can figure it out just the timing of everything. To get done what we did, I had to do it.”
Riley said he and Banker have not spoken since the firing.