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Photo Credit: John Peterson

Nebraska Stays In-House To Hire Special Teams Coordinator

January 10, 2022

Bill Busch was announced as Nebraska’s special teams coordinator on Monday. He joins new Nebraska hires in offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple, receivers coach/associate head coach/passing game coordinator Mickey Joseph and offensive line coach Donovan Raiola.

Busch joined the Huskers’ staff last February as a defensive analyst after spending the previous three seasons as LSU’s safeties coach, where he was part of the Tigers’ undefeated national championship team in 2019. While at LSU, Busch coached LSU safety Grant Delpit, who earned first-team All-American honors in 2018 and 2019 and is currently playing for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns.

“Bill Busch is a strong addition to our full-time coaching staff,” Scott Frost said. “Bill has brought a veteran presence to our staff over the past year in his role as an analyst. I look forward to him coordinating all aspects of our special teams moving forward. Bill’s experience and track record as both an outstanding coach and recruiter speaks for itself.”

Whether or not Nebraska should have a full-time special teams coach has been a hot topic around the fan base, not only this season but in recent years. The Huskers’ 2021 was filled with special team blunders, like a blocked extra-point attempt returned for a two-point conversion at Oklahoma, a returned punt for a touchdown at Michigan State and a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown in the season finale against Iowa that helped propel the rival Hawkeyes to a come-from-behind win. Also, Husker field goal kickers struggled this past season, going a combined 8-of-16.

Nebraska has retooled its specialists room since the end of the season by adding two scholarship transfers in Brian Buschini, the FCS Punter of the Year at Montana, and Timmy Bleekrode, a kicker from Furman. The Huskers also brought in a couple walk-on kickers in Spencer Pankratz, another transfer from Furman, and Charlie Weinrich, a highly-rated high prep prospect from Kansas City.

Prior to this season, head coach Frost handed the special teams coaching duties to Mike Dawson, who also coached outside linebackers, a position group that saw players like Garrett Nelson and Caleb Tannor have their best seasons as Huskers. Nebraska also announced Monday that Dawson will take over coaching the interior defensive line, in addition to coaching the edge rushers, following Tony Tuioti’s departure for Oregon.

Earlier this season, when asked if having a full-time coach solely dedicated to special teams would benefit his team, Frost said “potentially,” adding that Dawson has done well with the special teams units.

“I’ll tell you what, Mike Dawson has done a great job running the special teams,” Frost said. “He has people in the building who are helping him in the office with that. But our special teams have vastly improved. Our specialists, we need to continue to get better in those roles. But our coverage units, when you watch the tape and compare to where we’ve been, I’m really happy with the progress we’ve made there. So, I think that’s just a, when we put the puzzle together, figure out if that’s a possibility or not. If it is, I would love to.”

Busch, a Pender, Nebraska, native, had two previous stints with the Huskers. He was an assistant coach with Nebraska from 2004-07, working with the secondary and special teams. Before that, from 1990-93, he was a defensive graduate assistant.

“I worked my entire professional career to get the opportunity to coach football at the University of Nebraska,” Busch said. “Now, I have been blessed to do that twice—how cool is that?”

A former Nebraska Wesleyan University football player, Busch has shown he’s a solid recruiter. He played a key role in helping land quarterback Joe Burrow from Ohio State. Burrow, of course, went on to quarterback one of the greatest offenses college football has ever seen and win the Heisman Trophy. The Burrow-led Cincinnati Bengals clinched the AFC North with a win over the Kansas City Chiefs recently.

Prior to LSU, Busch spent two seasons at Rutgers where he served as defensive backs coach in 2016 before being promoted to co-defensive coordinator the following season. Busch was also a quality control coach on defense at Ohio State in 2015. Before he was in Columbus, Ohio, he was Wisconsin’s safeties coach for the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

Before his time in Wisconsin, Busch spent four seasons at Utah State, from 2009-12. In his first two seasons, he was the defensive coordinator before handling the safeties and special teams roles for the 2011-12 seasons. Busch also served as associate head coach for the Aggies in 2011 and 2012.

The 2012 season was a special one for Utah State and Busch. The Aggies won 11 games, a school record, and finished the year ranked No. 16 in the nation. Utah State finished No. 7 nationally in scoring defense at 15.4 points per game and No. 14 in total defense with 322.1 yards per game.

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