Today, Ron Zook finds himself being the Green Bay Packers‘ newest assistant special teams coach. What a waste.
I don’t say that because the Packers don’t deserve Zook’s knowledge. He already has three years of NFL special teams work under his belt with the Pittsburgh Steelers — that’s invaluable wisdom. What vexes me most about Zook’s absence from the college game is not only that he’s no longer a part of it, but that he’s not a member of the Nebraska Cornhuskers‘ coaching staff.
He turned down an offer to become the recruiting coordinator/safeties coach for the Louisville Cardinals, according to 92.5 FM Jacksonville’s Frank Frangie, but I really want to know what the Cardinals were offering Zook. I’m pretty sure I could entice Floyd Mayweather to put down some money on whether or not the Big Red could get him to sign a contract.
I know some Husker fans will immediate point to the lack of room on the staff, but there should be some. Ross Els may have a triple-pronged title, but if he actually is responsible for Nebraska’s linebackers, special teams and recruiting, he’s batting a .333 average.
I’m gonna need another loan from Mayweather. I’d also put down some major duckets on the notion that Zook could coach the Huskers’ punt return unit to do better than having players stand up at the line of scrimmage, only for a punt to be lovingly cradled via fair catch.
One of the most remembered players of the Bill Callahan era is Santino Panico. Huskers fans found Panico’s job hilarious because apparently he was supposed to do the exact same thing that Jordan Westerkamp appears to be charged with: catch the punt. That’s it. It was mocked then, and should be mocked now.
Els reportedly received a raise recently for some strange reason. The only other coach to receive one following the 2013 season was defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski, who did everything he could to put a decent product on the field. Despite the injuries he had to work around, Kaczenski did a pretty good job — an effort worth a little extra spending money even.
Let’s play a game of “What If”. I don’t know Els’ actual salary, but I’m going to ballpark it somewhere around the area of $250,000. If there’s one athletic program that is more than willing to pour money into a product in believes in, it’s Nebraska. Els’ salary (whatever it may be) is a drop in the bucket.
Let him go. Double the number for Zook. No, go one further and triple it. Not only will you have a special teams unit that includes your standard Huskers kicker that’s the envy of schools across the nation, but a kick and punt return game that is an actual threat.
On top of Zook’s special teams services, here is a man who deserves his personal recruiting war room. Nebraska fans are psyched about how the 2015 class is shaping up already, and they should be. With Zook’s services, there’d be no more worry about finishing in the top-25 recruiting rankings. The Big Red would be battling for top-15 spots, dare I say the occasional top-10.
If you’re both a Huskers and Packers fan, good on you. Imagine what incoming recruit Demornay Pierson-El could do under Zook’s tutelage when it comes to returning the ball. He’s a talent, but the odds of him helping the Big Red’s field position – if not taking one to the house – decreases dramatically under Els. Perhaps at some point down the road, Zook’ will be interested in getting back into the college game.
Until then, Nebraska fans will have to look to the land of cheese and wonder why he didn’t sign a contract to husk corn.