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December 21, 2010

Husker Buzz: Ekeler's passion will be missed

It's hard to find a guy more positive about life than linebacker coach Mike Ekeler.

From the minute Ekeler joined Nebraska's staff in 2008 people fell in love with his passion and excitement towards the game.

With that said I think Indiana is getting themselves a very good football coach. This move makes perfect sense for Ekeler and I don't think there was any way he could've turned it down.

To be offered a coordinator position at BCS school is absolutely huge for his coaching career. Think about it…He went from being a graduate assistant at Oklahoma to an intern at LSU and now he'll be a coordinator at a BCS school after a short stint working for Bo Pelini at NU.

That's the power of working in Pelini's defense. Over the spring Carl Pelini told me that they had so many coaches call and ask if they could come to Lincoln and study their defense that they had to more or less turn people away.

Everybody wants a piece of this Pelini defense and Ekeler will be the first I'm sure of many coaches off this staff that get opportunities to move on in the future.

I'll never forget the Ekeler story from back in 2008 when he got a temporary tattoo of "Compton" written in Old English lettering on his arm to show linebacker Will Compton how bad he wanted him to come to Nebraska over Missouri.

Ekeler told him that he better come to NU, otherwise every time he looks at his arm he'll be reminded on what type of player he missed out on in Compton.

The other thing I'll always remember about Ekeler was on each game day he would take a traditional jog down 9th street in downtown Lincoln to get his competitive juices flowing. Ekeler would run right by the thousands of Husker fans either tailgating or making their way towards the stadium.

No matter what Ekeler always had a smile on his face and his players loved him. His passion and energy towards the game will be greatly missed.

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Look for Shawn Watson's name to continue to emerge as a candidate at Miami of Ohio. Watson worked there from 1987 to 1993 and if he's interested I can't see why they wouldn't be interested.

Its unfortunate things didn't work out with Vanderbilt for Watson. I truly think if NU would've won the Big 12 championship game and the lash of negativity that followed after it didn't happen, the job would've been his.

More than one Vanderbilt person I talked to told me the negativity towards Watson both by the fans and the media after the 23-20 loss to Oklahoma soured the hiring committee and forced them to look in another direction.

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Just when you thought the coaching talk with NU's staff died down, things have picked up again.

Nothing has happened regarding defensive ends coach John Papuchis and Florida, but don't be surprised if his name starts to heat up. GatorBait.com writes that's Papuchis's name was "one of the first ones brought to their attention" the night Muschamp was hired.

Another name to watch closely is Carl Pelini at Texas. Mack Brown is still looking for a defensive coordinator and the Austin American Statesman's Kirk Bohls mentioned Pelini's name as a potential candidate in his latest column.

"I'm told Mack could possibly get Nebraska's Carl Pelini, who'd like to emerge from his brother Bo's shadow," Bohls writes.

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Besides the BCS National Championship game, here are the five bowl games I'm most intrigued to watch over the coming weeks.

TCU vs. Wisconsin: How can you not be interested in this one? I want to see if TCU can match-up with Wisconsin's physical style. I like Wisconsin.

LSU vs. Texas A&M: I really like this match-up and I almost consider like another BCS game. I'll take A&M by a field goal.

Miami vs. Notre Dame: I like this match-up simply because it will give me memories of the great "Convicts vs. Catholics" games of the 1980's. I know the product on the field is not as good, but the match-up still has my interest.

Michigan State vs. Alabama: If nothing else, I think Michigan State will be one of the preseason picks to win the Legends Division next year and this will give us a gauge of how good they are. My pick is Alabama.

Ohio State vs. Arkansas: I think Ohio State will finally end their losing streak to SEC teams in bowl games.

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Congratulations to Chris Nizzi for being named just the third head coach in 57 years at Omaha Creighton Prep.

The school announced the hiring of Nizzi on Monday, who served as an assistant coach on the varsity for the last 10 seasons.

I have to think it was a tough decision for Prep on which way to go, as they conducted a national search for the position. In the end, they felt it was best to keep things in-house.


Sean Callahan can be reached at sean@Huskeronline.com and he can be heard each day at 6:50 am and 4:50 pm on Big Red Radio 1110 KFAB in Omaha. He can also be seen on WOWT TV in Omaha four nights per week during the fall and each week he appears on NET's Big Red Wrap Tuesday's at 7 pm.


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