Category Archives: Huskers News

Nebraska’s Mark Manning named Olympic wrestling coach

Nebraska wrestling coach Mark Manning will serve as a U.S. Olympic freestyle coach during the Rio Games.

Manning will be one of three volunteer coaches, all of whom come from the Big Ten. Manning will be joined by Iowa head coach Tom Brands and Ohio State associate head coach Lou Rosselli.

Manning also coached during the London Games in 2012, helping former Husker Jordan Burroughs win gold in the 74 kilogram freestyle division. Burroughs enters Rio ranked No. 1 in the world in that weight class.

Manning is a two-time recipient of the Terry McCann Freestyle Coach of the Year Award after being crowned in April. Manning first took home that honor in 2011 after helping Burroughs to his first world title in 2011. Burroughs has since added world titles in 2013 and 2015 in addition to his 2012 Olympic gold.

At Nebraska, Manning has produced the most wins in program history (212) since taking over in 2000. He’s coached four national champions and 42 All-Americans. 

Burroughs will make the 11th appearance by a former Husker wrestler in the Olympic games. Nebraska has produced six Olympic medalists, including two gold medal winners — Burroughs (2012) and Rulon Gardner (2000).

The men’s 74 kilogram freestyle competition is scheduled for Aug. 19 at Carioca Arena 2 in Rio de Janeiro.

Huskers sell out football season tickets

Nebraska has sold all of its season tickets for the 2016 football season.

The athletic department announced Wednesday that season tickets officially sold out by Tuesday afternoon.

Fans will still have an opportunity to purchase single-game tickets made available when opposing teams return some from their allotment. Tickets to the season opener against Fresno State on Sept. 3 go for $75 and the homecoming game Oct. 1 against Illinois cost $65. Fans can also get a “B1G Pack” for tickets to both the Purdue (Oct. 22) and Maryland (Nov. 19) games for $120.

Nebraska enters the 2016 season with the longest active sellout streak in the country at 347 games.

Approximately 2,000 season tickets went on sale June 1 after the Huskers went through their renewal process. Nebraska sold about 500 in the first 24 hours, which was behind last year’s pace, and after a month, about 270 still remained. It took nearly two full months for them all to be sold.

That’s significantly longer than it took last year. In 2015, the Huskers made approximately 1,500 available for purchase after the renewal process. Those sold out in about 30 hours.

The sellout streak was still in danger of coming to an end last season. NU development officer Jack Pierce told The Associated Press in May he had to call up “friends of the program” days before three games and ask them to buy up tickets returned by the opponent.

Kris Brown, Adam Carriker among standouts in 2016 Nebraska Football Hall of Fame class

Two-time Husker national champion Kris Brown and two-time first-team All-Big 12 selection Adam Carriker headline the 2016 Nebraska Football Hall of Fame class announced Wednesday.

Brown, an NFL All-Pro selection in 2007 and one of the greatest place-kickers in Nebraska football history, helped the Huskers capture national championships in 1995 and 1997. His 388 career points rank No. 2 in Nebraska history, while his 1,123 career points (44th) and 256 career field goals (39th) both rank in the top 50 in NFL history.

Carriker won first-team all-conference honors in 2005 and 2006, was the 2006 Big 12 defensive lineman of the year and was Nebraska’s defensive MVP as both a junior and a senior before being chosen in the first round of the 2007 NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams.

Scott Raridon, who was a first-team All-Big Eight offensive tackle in 1983, and 1979 first-team All-Big Eight kicker Dean Sukup join Brown and Carriker in the class.

Doane University All-America offensive lineman Fred Davis completes the 2016 class. Davis was a two-sport standout in football and track and was the first Doane athlete to be named a first-team All-American, earning back-to-back honors in football during the 1966 and 1967 seasons.

The Nebraska Football Hall of Fame class will be inducted Sept. 9 on the University of Nebraska campus and will be introduced prior to Nebraska’s football game with Wyoming at Memorial Stadium on Sept. 10.

Cincinnati Bengals sign former Husker DE Jack Gangwish

From Husker walk-on to the NFL, Jack Gangwish took another step in his football career Wednesday.

Gangwish, a 6-foot-2, 265-pound defensive end, has signed a deal with the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals, the team announced Wednesday.

The move is the latest in an impressive career arc for Gangwish, a native of Wood River, Nebraska. He joined the Husker football team in 2011 as a walk-on. After a redshirt season, he worked for two years before finally making his debut in 2014 — when he was named Nebraska lifter of the year — when he played in 12 games, including three starts. As a captain in 2015, he started nine games for NU, recording 15 tackles — including four for loss — and 1.5 sacks, while adding seven quarterback hurries.

Following the 2015 season, he worked out in Lincoln in preparation for the Huskers’ pro day, saying that he hoped for some looks from NFL or CFL teams.

“I would love to stay with the game,” Gangwish said.

Stay with it he has, and at the highest level.

Gangwish joins former Husker running back Rex Burkhead, a 2013 NFL draft pick by Cincinnati, and Trevor Roach, whosigned as a free agent in 2015 and was on the active roster for Cincy during the playoffs, on the Bengals’ roster.

‘No question’ Randy Gregory needs help, says Cowboys owner Jerry Jones

While Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is disappointed in Randy Gregory’s continued issues with substance abuse, he’s mostly concerned for the former Husker’s well-being.

Speaking with reporters Wednesday, Jones addressed the latest reports concerning Gregory’s most recent failed drug test. News broke Tuesday that Gregory had entered treatment to address his addiction, which Jones confirmed Wednesday.

“It does point out the difficulty you have with addiction,” said Jones, according to DallasCowboys.com. “There’s no question that he needs the kind of help and care that he’s getting right now. That is disappointing, and we’ll see what the days bring with him.”

Multiple reports suggested Gregory would now face a 10-game suspension to start the 2016 season after a failed drug test. That was up from the four-game penalty he faced for a failed test earlier this year.

Jones said Wednesday the Cowboys have not received word from the NFL that Gregory faces anything more than a four-game suspension. But Dallas officials were well-aware this news was looming.

“You could say that there’s no surprises here,” Jones said.

Gregory is not expected to be with the team when Dallas opens training camp later this week. There’s no time frame for his return.

“We are, first and foremost, interested in how he can basically address his addiction and get to where he can function in society first,” Jones said. “And then we’ll look at him as a football player second.”

This is just the latest chapter in Gregory’s turbulent and brief NFL career.

Gregory failed his first drug test during last year’s NFL Combine, later admitting he also failed multiple tests while at Nebraska. Once believed to be a potential top 10 draft pick, Gregory slipped into the second round because of concerns over his marijuana use.

Injuries then limited his production as a rookie. He played in 12 games in 2015 but didn’t record a sack.

Then, in February, it was announced Gregory would face a four-game suspension to open the 2016 season. This latest revelation could force him out even longer.

Nebraska special teams coordinator Bruce Read, punter Caleb Lightbourn still following Sam Foltz’s lead

LINCOLN — At the end of the specialists’ portion of football practice, Nebraska special teams coordinator Bruce Read would sometimes gather his kickers, punters, snappers and holders for a brief word.

When Read was done, he said, he’d turn to Sam Foltz.

“I’d just look at Sam and say, ‘what else?’ ” Read said Tuesday. “He was definitely the leader of that crew.”

As Nebraska football continues its grieving process after Foltz’s death — and prepares for his Saturday funeral in Grand Island — Read said he’s just trying to recover from losing a beloved guy in his room.

“It seemed to get worse every minute on the first day,” Read said. “The next day was a blur. Today you’re still trying to cope with everything.”

Foltz, he said, was the kind of kid you’d want to coach. Or have for a teammate. After news broke that he had died in a Wisconsin car crash, Read and other specialists just tried to talk about Foltz — who he was, how he approached football and life — and console one another.

The one player who probably needed consoling the most — kicker Drew Brown — was finally able to address the team Tuesday morning. Brown was in a different car from Foltz the night of the crash, but he and ex-Wisconsin punter Drew Meyer found the accident site after Foltz, LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye and former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler — who also died in the crash — didn’t make it to Meyer’s house.

Brown was a hub of information for two days for teammates and coaches, including Read himself. The kicker was right in the middle of learning the worst about Foltz and communicating that to others. The fact that Brown was able to just talk to the team, Read said, was a step toward healing.

“Drew and Sam had been joined at the hip since Drew got here,” Read said. “He’s struggled with the fact that they were together for that whole trip — except they got in separate cars. On the same plane, on the same bus, on the same field — except for that one time they split up.”

Read said he expects “great things” from Brown this season. Brown may have been the Big Ten’s best kicker by the end of last season, and he rarely missed in spring practice. Foltz was his holder.

Addressing the pieces around Brown — and snapper Jordan Ober — will be a struggle that Read has to address quickly with fall camp nearing. It’s hard for him to even conceive the need to replace Foltz. He looked at a personnel sheet — and saw Foltz’s name. He looked at some film he’d prepared for camp. Foltz is all over it.

“Oh, man, it’s going to be hard,” Read said.

He’ll ask his players not to try to carry the “burden of the whole football team on their shoulders.” He’ll look for a holder to work with Brown — “you don’t just drop anybody in there” — and a new punter. Read, who worked in pro football, said Foltz was a surefire NFL guy — “ I’ve coached a lot of ’em. There’s no doubt in my mind.” He’d already been a good mentor to NU’s backups, walk-on Isaac Armstrong from Lincoln Southwest and freshman scholarship punter Caleb Lightbourn from Washougal, Washington.

At Sunday’s prayer vigil remembering Foltz, Lightbourn stepped out of the crowd to offer his own brief memories of Foltz, who was helping Lightbourn refine his punting technique.

“The special thing about Sam was — even though I was behind him, he took me under his wing and wanted to make me better,” Lightbourn said. “He wanted to make sure that, no matter what happened, not only was he improving himself but the people who were coming after him.”

Lightbourn said he’d try his best to follow Foltz. Nebraska had planned on redshirting Lightbourn this season.

“There’s no way I could ever replace him,” Lightbourn said. “But knowing I had the opportunity to work with him — even though it was a short amount of time, only 2½ months — I became a better person in that short of time. I’m a better person because of Sam.”

Read said the same thing. He was much older than Foltz, but learned from him. He said Foltz’s teammates did, too, and those lessons would help the specialists process their grief and come together.

“If there was any hint of feeling sorry for themselves or backing off or not having a full-on, 100 percent attitude, Sam would punch right in the mouth,” Read said. “We all know what Sam would want us to do. And that would be to grind, and work and represent and do the best we can.”

Read paused.

“And it helps me somewhat, thinking ’bout that,” he continued. “Knowing his attitude. Phenonemal work ethic. Self-made guy. Happy. Everything you want in a player and teammate. He was — fantastic.”

Big Ten notes: Fant makes good first impression with Beathard, Hawkeyes; Memorial Stadium memories and more

CHICAGO — Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz was eating dinner with three of his players in Chicago on Monday when his quarterback brought up an impressive freshman tight end from Omaha.

Noah Fant, the Omaha South product, has caught the attention of senior C.J. Beathard, who had an encouraging report to share with Ferentz. Apparently Fant is doing well in workouts.

The expectations aren’t changing for Fant. Said Ferentz: “We’ll just let him progress at his rate.”

But the future is bright for the 6-foot-5 220-pounder.

Ferentz said he told Fant during recruiting that Iowa saw his potential as a tight end, even though other college programs were targeting him mostly as a defensive tackle. Fant is talented enough to play either position, Ferentz said. Tight end, at this point, suits him best, though.

“If we let our coaches fight over it, they’d still be fighting, probably,” Ferentz said. “I thought he had some talents and abilities offensively that were a little bit uncommon.”

New approach to targeting

The targeting call that got Nate Gerry ejected from the Foster Farms Bowl was included on the national training tapes used by officials in the offseason.

Bill Carollo, the Big Ten’s coordinator of officials, remembers the play well. He didn’t think targeting was the correct call. He said he definitely heard lots of feedback the night of NU’s 37-29 win over UCLA back in December.

But the NCAA has expanded the role of the replay official when flags are thrown for targeting. That change should help, according to Carollo.

Previously the replay official could only examine whether contact was made above the shoulders. Now the video reviewer can evaluate all aspects of the rule and can also stop the action for a possible targeting infraction — even if the officials on the field don’t see it. Carollo said Big Ten head referees will have access to a TV monitor on the sideline to assist replay officials on all video reviews.

“We’re trying to get it right,” he said. “It’s our most important call.”

Overall, Carollo said, league officials called 21 targeting fouls last season. Nine were reversed. He remembers two in particular that weren’t called — and should have been. Two others were called — and shouldn’t have been.

“We don’t miss it too often,” Carollo said.

More tributes to Foltz, Sadler

Several Big Ten coaches and league officials again expressed their condolences to the families and friends of Nebraska’s Sam Foltz and former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler.

Foltz and Sadler were killed in a car accident Saturday night. They were recognized often by seemingly everyone in attendance at Big Ten media days — first on Monday, and again Tuesday.

Michigan State’s team met with reporters and conveyed their sentiments as they reflected on their time and experiences with Sadler, whose MSU career ended in 2014. Other coaches used the first portion of their press conference to acknowledge the tragedy and offer words of sympathy. So did Bill Hancock, the College Football Playoff executive director, and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany.

“Life is fragile,” Delany said. “We lost Sam and Mike this week. Major loss of life. It has impacted everybody. … It’s on everybody’s minds. It’s on my mind. And I just want to be clear that hearts are broken, and our prayers and thoughts are with Mike and Sam and their families.”

Nebraska coach Mike Riley and NU’s three player representatives (Tommy Armstrong, Jordan Westerkamp and Josh Banderas) did not attend media days in Chicago this week.

Memorial Stadium memories

Running back Dare Ogunbowale said last season’s 23-21 win over Nebraska in Memorial Stadium will help Wisconsin’s leaders prepare this year’s squad for its difficult road tests.

The Badgers play at Michigan State, at Michigan and at Iowa — all before Halloween.

Experience is the greatest teacher, according to Ogunbowale. And Wisconsin’s veterans have plenty of memories to draw on from that come-from-behind victory at NU, when they used Rafael Gaglianone’s 46-yard field goal with four seconds left to clinch it. Quarterback Joel Stave led the winning drive.

“At Nebraska, any guy on the team will tell you, that’s one of the loudest places we’ve played,” Ogunbowale said. “I was next to Joel, hearing him clap to the center to snap the ball — and the center had no idea, just because of how loud it was. That’s definitely something we can use, that experience.”

It was also a breakout game for Ogunbowale, who ran 18 times for 117 yards. Nearly all of that production came in the second half.

“That was a very fun game to be a part of,” he said.

The Badgers meet the Huskers on Oct. 29 in Madison.

Ex-Husker fits in at MSU

Former Nebraska defensive tackle Kevin Williams is adjusting fine to his new home at Michigan State.

Williams joined the Spartans as a graduate transfer in May, and he’s worked out with the Spartans all summer.

“He’s fit right in,” senior linebacker Riley Bullough said.

Williams was a Husker for five years, though he suffered two season-ending knee injuries while in Lincoln. He played in 23 total games. But he received a sixth year of eligibility and this spring decided to finish his collegiate career elsewhere.

He ultimately picked the Spartans, who Bullough said haven’t added many graduate transfers during his time with the program. Williams has made an impact.

“He’s done a great job with the workouts,” Bullough said. “I’ve watched film with him a couple times. Smart player. I’m just excited to get into camp next week, put the pads on, and see what he can do.”

Lovie’s Husker connection

One question at Tuesday’s writers’ room media session brought a big smile to the face of Illinois coach Lovie Smith.

His hometown is an east Texas hamlet of 1,288 called Big Sandy. Another name of note from that town is Leroy Chalk, a member of the Nebraska basketball hall of fame and still third on the school’s all-time rebounding list.

Smith paused when asked if he had heard of Leroy Chalk.

“Since my mother’s maiden name is Chalk, I would say the chances are good,” he said, smiling. “Leroy is my cousin.”

Chalk lettered at Nebraska from 1969 to 1971, then played professionally in western Europe for 17 years.

GoFundMe set up to Memorialize Sam Foltz

LINCOLN – Following the death of Husker punter Sam Foltz, a GoFundMe page has been set up with the hope of memorializing the beloved Greeley native.

The page is looking to raise $10,000 that will be donated to the University of Nebraska to erect a statue of Foltz after he was killed in a car crash Saturday night in Wisconsin.

Foltz and former Michigan State Punter Mike Sadler were in the car that was traveling on Beaver Lake Road in the town of Merton. Authorities say the westbound vehicle spun out of control on wet pavement and left the roadway before striking a tree.

Foltz played in 38 games over his Husker career and won the Eddelman-Fields Big Ten Punter of the Year Award last season.

The GoFundMe page is titled Sam Foltz Statue, and already has more then $5,700 worth of donations in less than 24 hours.

Visit the GoFundMe Page here.

Unexpected title earns former Husker Tyronn Lue new contract with Cleveland

CLEVELAND (AP) — Thrust into an awkward situation in January, Tyronn Lue finished on top in June.

On Tuesday, the affable coach was rewarded for the greatest run by a Cleveland team in more than a half-century.

Lue, a former Nebraska star, was given a multiyear contract extension with the Cavaliers, who promoted him halfway through a season that ended with a historic comeback and NBA championship.

A former assistant, Lue took over when David Blatt was fired in January and led the Cavs to an unexpected title, the city’s first for a pro sports team since the Browns won in 1964.

Terms of Lue’s extension were not immediately disclosed. The AP and other media outlets reported an agreement on the extension Monday.

Cavs general manager David Griffin, who approached Lue about the job after dismissing Blatt on Jan. 22, credited the coach’s steadiness in helping the team win.

“Ty took over our team under very trying circumstances, and his calm, confident approach was invaluable as we found our way to success,” Griffin said. “His vision, leadership and tactical acumen were fundamental to us reaching our goals.”

After replacing Blatt, who was canned despite taking the team to the finals in 2015 and getting them off to a 30-11 start, Lue immediately changed the team’s offense. He felt the Cavs were best when they pushed the ball up the floor, and Lue was able to better incorporate star forward Kevin Love, who was a forgotten man in Blatt’s system.

As a former player, Lue knew when to be tough and when to ease up on his players.

“The opportunity to continue coaching the Cavaliers and this very special group of players is tremendous,” Lue said. “I am extremely appreciative of the effort and commitment that (owners) Dan Gilbert, Jeff Cohen, Nate Forbes and David Griffin showed in extending my contract.”

During the playoffs, Lue became the first head coach in league history to win his first 10 postseason games. The Cavs overcame a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals to dethrone the Golden State Warriors.

Lue became the fourth-youngest head coach to win an NBA title and the third to win a championship after taking over a team mid-season, joining Pat Riley (2006 and 1982) and Paul Westhead (1980).

Lue joined the Cavs as an associate head coach in June 2014. Before he was with Cleveland, Lue coached on Doc Rivers’ staff with the Los Angeles Clippers and Boston Celtics.

The 39-year-old Lue played 11 seasons in the NBA, with 554 career games. He played on title teams with the Lakers in 2000 and 2001.

Big Ten media days open with somber tone after accident claims lives of Sam Foltz, Mike Sadler

CHICAGO — The Big Ten’s annual media event, normally a display of enthusiasm and optimism, had a somber undertone as it opened inside a hotel ballroom Monday afternoon.

The unofficial start to the league’s football season was still worth celebrating, but seemingly everyone — whether behind a camera or in front of it — wanted to take a moment to express sympathy and support for the two conference programs dealing with tragedy.

Nebraska senior Sam Foltz, one of the league’s promising specialists, died in a car accident in Wisconsin on Saturday. Former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler, a gregarious standout during his MSU career, also was killed in the crash.

The Huskers didn’t make the trip to Chicago. No Mike Riley. No player representatives. Michigan State’s contingent wasn’t around Monday, either, set to meet with media members Tuesday.

But the two teams were certainly on the minds of their Big Ten peers all day long.

“Your heart’s just ripped out for them,” Purdue coach Darrell Hazell said.

Hazell struggled for words as he met with a small group of reporters. Fresh on his mind was defensive tackle Will Colmery, who suffered a seizure in the weight room last month and soon had a benign tumor removed from his head. But Colmery is recovering. He may play again.

Foltz and Sadler are gone.

“It’s just a tragedy,” Hazell said.

That was the sentiment shared by each coach Monday. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany issued a statement before the press conferences began, saying that he and conference officials were “sending our thoughts and prayers to the families, teammates, coaches, administrators and friends who have been impacted” by the deaths of Foltz and Sadler.

ESPN play-by-play announcer Joe Tessitore, on hand to help host the league’s kickoff luncheon Tuesday, offered his time to talk with several staffers and reporters, conveying his condolences and sharing his memories. Tessitore’s son, John, is a rising junior who’s pursuing a collegiate kicking career. They were both at the Kohl’s Kicking Camp over the weekend, along with Foltz and Sadler.

“Sam and Mike being back at that camp was special,” Tessitore said. “They’re rock stars.”

That’s why Monday was so difficult for coaches. They couldn’t openly gush over the potential of their team without acknowledging the pain felt by players across the league.

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald was first. He stood at a lectern, decked out in blue and white Big Ten labeling. Three pieces of hardware — the conference championship trophy and the prizes for the two division winners — were resting at a table to his right.

“It’s with heavy heart and great sadness that I kick off here,” Fitzgerald said. “On behalf of Northwestern, our football program and all our players, we’d like to express all the thoughts and prayers to their families, Coach (Mark) Dantonio, Coach (Mike) Riley and the Spartan and Husker families on their tragic loss.”

Hazell was next. Then Rutgers’ Chris Ash, Penn State’s James Franklin, Minnesota’s Tracy Claeys. They all had something to say about the devastating accident.

Some went into further detail later. Franklin recalled his past experiences. Fitzgerald, too. They all understand how tough this is. And they know nothing they say will make it any better.

“They went way too early,” Claeys said.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh addressed the accident during a side-session with reporters after his press conference. Harbaugh played for Riley in San Diego.

“A tragedy like this, it just — it takes the breath out of you,” Harbaugh said.