In his first months as Nebraska’s special teams coordinator, Ed Foley has aimed to see as much of the state as he can.
His Twitter feed illustrates his travels well, filled with pictures from high schools he’s visited in-state and elsewhere. Foley said at a press conference Monday that he hopes to take a visit to every high school in the state, although he acknowledges it is a task that may take a while. Building those connections around Nebraska has been a priority for him.
“My day starts at a certain time and it ends at a certain time,” Foley said. “I’d like to fill in that whole day with seeing and meeting as many people within that timeframe as we can.”
It seems he’s accomplished that so far. Also peppered into his feed are pictures of meals from restaurants at his stops, which he said provides conversation topics with coaches that go beyond how good, tall or fast a recruit may be.
Foley praised the state as a whole for its “amazing passion” around Nebraska football. He noted that most of his coaching stops prior to now have come in places with a sizable market for professional sports, or not quite as much love for the college teams.
“The reception has been amazing. Just going town to town, whether it’s where you eat, or who you talk to or when you wear the ‘N’ around town or into the schools, people know you’re there,” he said. “I’m not really used to having that happen. Again, I’ve been a little bit limited in terms of where I’ve recruited and who I’ve recruited for, but that’s been fantastic. It really says a lot about what’s going on here.”
Getting out into the community has been a priority for not only Foley, but for head coach Matt Rhule and the rest of the staff. The special teams coordinator has worked with the head coach before, first when they were both assistants at Temple in 2008. They spent almost every season together with the Owls until 2016, the lone exception being Rhule’s one-year stint as a New York Giants assistant in 2012. Foley spent a year under Rhule at Baylor and for the Carolina Panthers as well.
Many of the staff’s assistants have worked together before. That makes things easier, according to Foley, as there’s more immediate cohesiveness in doing their jobs at Nebraska. He said he’s attended other staff members’ weddings and their relatives’ funerals, showing the strong connection they all have.
“It’s like working with family. It’s like working with your brother. Now it’s your brother that [Rhule] runs the show now, it’s not the brother that I’m going to take out in the backyard or whatever, but this is a family for us,” he said of the staff. “That’s not a cliché, that’s not fake, it’s not some rah-rah statement, we’re really family.”
As he alluded to, his relationship with Rhule changed a bit once they weren’t both assistants. Once Rhule became Temple’s head coach in 2013, Foley said there were some “bumps” and the two had conversations about the change in dynamic.
If not made evident by the pair continuing to work together at various stops and now Nebraska, everything worked out. Foley said that he was “beyond fired up” when Rhule asked him to join the staff. He was pleased with the location too, taking some time during his availability to list off some Nebraska football greats he grew up close to, such as Mike Rozier and Irving Fryar.
“When Matt [Rhule] was talking about potential landing spots, I was like, ‘Oh, please let it be Nebraska,'” Foley said. “I’m so happy that we’re here.”