A coach who once had a hand in keeping Nebraska from a shot at a national title is now helping the Huskers pursue one.
Gary Darnell, a longtime defensive coach in college football, has joined Nebraska’s staff as a consultant a source confirmed to Hail Varsity.
Darnell was the defensive coordinator at Texas in 1996 when the unranked, 7-4 Longhorns knocked off 10-1 and third-ranked Nebraska 37-27 in the first Big 12 Championship Game. The loss likely cost the Huskers a shot at a third consecutive national title. He was hired less than two weeks later as the new head coach at Western Michigan.
It wasn’t Darnell’s first head coaching job. He started his coaching career in 1970 at his alma mater, Oklahoma State, before making stops at SMU, North Carolina and Kansas State. In 1983, Darnell became the head coach at Tennessee Tech. The Golden Eagles went 3-29 over three seasons, but that staff did produce two future Power 5 head coaches. Dennis Franchione (Alabama, Texas A&M) was Tech’s offensive coordinator and Gary Patterson (TCU) was the linebackers coach.
Darnell went to Wake Forest to be the defensive coordinator following his stint at Tennessee Tech. From there he coordinated defenses at Florida, Notre Dame and Texas before becoming a head coach again. Darnell’s linebackers coach during his final season at Western Michigan in 2004 was current Nebraska defensive coordinator Bob Diaco.
Darnell’s most recent coaching stint was as the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M in 2006 and 2007. He fills a defensive consultant role left open after Bob Elliott passed away earlier this month.