Bob Diaco is used to working from the press box as a defensive coordinator. It will just be a change for Nebraska football in 2017 to have its defensive coordinator on level six of Memorial Stadium during home games and visiting coaches booths on the road.
In recent seasons, Mark Banker, John Papuchis, Carl Pelini, Kevin Cosgrove, Bo Pelini and Craig Bohl all worked from the sideline during games. It was the regular place, too, for Charlie McBride from 1982 through 1999, the first 16 of those 18 years working alongside former Husker head coach Tom Osborne.
Diaco told The World-Herald this summer that he prefers the vantage point and that his demeanor switches for games — he’s very dialed in.
Asked about it during his Tuesday post-practice session with reporters, Diaco said: “I just like to focus. Vantage point. Distractions, lack of them there. Hide from the masses, the pitchforks and the burning sticks.”
Diaco will return to the press box after spending the last three seasons as head coach at Connecticut. Previous stints as a defensive coordinator came at Notre Dame and Cincinnati, and as co-defensive coordinator at Central Michigan.
The late Bob Elliott, who worked with Diaco at Notre Dame, had told The World-Herald during NU spring practice that Diaco shifts gears during games — when he is studying the opposing offense and calling plays — from the ball of energy that people see at practices.
“Bob’s great before a game, he’s great at halftime … but he’s a different guy up in the box,” said Elliott, the veteran coach who died last month. “He’s calm. And sometimes I get out of hand and he has to calm me down.”
Papuchis spent his first four years on the Husker staff watching from the press box as defensive line coach. He moved to the sideline full-time in 2012 after replacing Carl Pelini as NU defensive coordinator, a position he would hold for three seasons.
“Like anything, when it’s new there’s a little bit to get used to,” Papuchis told The World-Herald after the season-opening game in 2012. “Obviously as time goes on my comfort level will become greater and greater. That’s the first game, other than the bowl game, that I’ve been on the sideline since 2002. So it’s been a while.
“The game looks different obviously from the field level. Where you need to stand to see what you need to see is different, so it takes a little bit of time to get used to it.”
Recent Nebraska offensive coordinators have mostly worked from the press box, although Danny Langsdorf spent the 2015 season on the Husker sideline before moving back upstairs a year ago, and Shawn Watson came down for some games in 2009.