Nebraska fires defensive coordinator Banker

Nebraska Cornhuskers coach Mike Riley announced the dismissal Wednesday of defensive coordinator Mark Banker, who coached with Riley for 20 seasons at four stops.

Banker, in his second year at Nebraska, directed a unit that ranked 10th in the Big Ten in 2016 in yards per play allowed, yards per rushing attempt and passing yards per game.

The Cornhuskers, who improved from 6-7 in the first season under Riley and Banker to 9-4, struggled defensively to close the season in a 40-10 loss to Iowa, followed by a 38-24 defeat to Tennessee in the Music City Bowl.

Ohio State beat Nebraska 62-3 in Week 10.

“I want to thank Mark for his work and contributions to our football program the past two years and for all of his service and dedication as a member of my other coaching staffs,” Riley said in a statement. “We will conduct a national search to find a great coach, teacher and recruiter as we continue our pursuit of championships.”

Banker followed Riley to Nebraska in December 2014 after spending 14 years with the head coach over two stints at Oregon State. Banker also coached under Riley with the San Diego Chargers for three years, and they spent one season together at USC.

Banker was the highest-paid assistant coach at Nebraska with a salary of $580,663.

Riley also announced the departure of defensive backs coach Brian Stewart, who is set to fill the defensive coordinator spot at Rice, sources told Sam Khan and Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com.

Additionally, Ryan Gunderson, Nebraska’s director of player personnel and a former quarterback under Riley at Oregon State, is leaving to pursue an on-field coaching position at another school, Riley said.

The firing of Banker serves as the latest quick-trigger move by Riley at Nebraska. He fired Hank Hughes as defensive line coach after the 2015 season and dismissed special teams coordinator Bruce Read after the loss to Iowa that closed the regular season in November.

The Huskers hired defensive assistant Donte Williams from Arizona last month.

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