Bill Busch has worn many different hats on Nebraska coaching staffs.
The Pender native was a Husker graduate assistant from 1990-93 and then returned to Lincoln as a safeties coach and special teams coordinator from 2004-07. He rejoined the staff prior to last season as a defensive analyst and was elevated to special teams coordinator for this fall.
Now, another challenge is thrown in Busch’s direction.
Interim head coach Mickey Joseph announced Sunday that Busch will take over as Nebraska’s defensive coordinator following the firing of Erik Chinander.
The twists and turns of Busch’s career aren’t limited to Nebraska, either.
The early days of his career included stops at FCS schools Nebraska Wesleyan and Northern Arizona and also New Mexico State as a defensive backs coach. Busch then went to Utah from 2001-03, briefly crossing paths with Urban Meyer.
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After his second stint with the Huskers, Busch served as defensive coordinator for two seasons before becoming the safeties and special teams coach at Utah State. In his final season with the Aggies, Busch was named national defensive backs coach of the year by Football Scoop after helping build the Aggies into a top-15 defense in the country.
“You only really get one chance in your career to put a stamp on a program. We took them (Utah State) from one of the worst teams in college football to a top-15 team,” Busch said in 2013. “It was the chance of a lifetime for me to be a part of, where you took something from literally nothing to something extremely special.”
When Gary Andersen left to become Wisconsin’s head coach, Busch went with him as the safeties coach for Wisconsin from 2013-14 while also working with the special teams unit.
Busch’s time with Wisconsin also kicked off a run of Big Ten schools. He joined Ohio State as a defensive analyst for the 2015 season before becoming the defensive backs coach at Rutgers the following year. The Scarlet Knights had the No. 16 pass defense nationally in Busch’s first season with the program, and he took on additional responsibilities as their co-defensive coordinator in 2016.
Busch then worked on the same LSU staff as Joseph, working with the safeties. That prior relationship, paired with Busch’s work with the Huskers’ special teams this season, likely gave Joseph the confidence to elevate Busch into the new role.
“I think coach Busch is doing an excellent job,” Joseph said on Thursday. “I got a chance to work with coach Busch at LSU, and he’s always been really detailed in what he’s done.
Throughout his coaching career, Busch has faced a variety of offenses and a variety of challenges. His current task with Nebraska might be the most difficult yet.
As it stands, Nebraska is the fourth-worst defense in the nation, averaging 514 yards allowed per game. Given his experience working with defensive backs and secondary groups, Busch is a natural fit to help Nebraska’s pass defense.
But, the fact remains that the Huskers have given up 233.5 yards per game on the ground. Ahead of an eight-game slate against the run-heavy Big Ten, that’s the area where change is needed most of all.
Busch will have a bye week to start instituting his changes, and it’s unclear if he will continue his role with the special teams unit. Nebraska could elevate another analyst into an on-field role, which Joseph opted to do with offensive analyst Mike Cassano becoming NU’s new wide receivers coach.
Busch has been a defensive coordinator before and he’s shown the ability to conquer challenges everywhere he’s gone.
Now, he’ll get the chance to do it close to home by coaching the once-vaunted Blackshirts.
“I worked my entire professional career to get the opportunity to coach football at the University of Nebraska,” Busch said when he was elevated to an on-field role in January. “Now, I have been blessed to do that twice — how cool is that?”