Nebraska Football: Where the coaching search stands in its final week

Army Black Knights head coach Jeff Monken watches his team (Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports)
Army Black Knights head coach Jeff Monken watches his team (Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Nebraska football head coaching search is almost certainly almost over. After all, there’s just a few days left in the Huskers’ season and once that’s done, fans should know one way or another who is going to be the next person to take the helm. The question at this point is just where things stands with the twists and turns of the last few weeks.

There was a time when it felt like the Nebraska football team had its head coach. And there have been times over the last couple of weeks where it felt as though the program was just starting its search anew. It’s hard to tell what has been concrete, what has been a smokescreen, and what might have been true, but just wasn’t finalized yet.

Kalen Deboer Off The Table For Nebraska Football

It is of course, not clear if the Washington Huskies coach was ever really a target of Trev Alberts. However, if he was, the former Fresno State coach is off the market now. That’s because he signed an extension with the school on Tuesday night.

This isn’t a rumor. The school has confirmed that Deboer is signed through 2028. It’s worth nothing that Deboer wasn’t really all that prevalent in the rumors and inuendo around Nebraska football, but he would have been a good one. He’s turned the Huskies around quickly.

So is Lance Leipold

This one is a bit more surprising and it came down about two hours after Deboer was signed to stick at Washington. Lance Leipold has been one of the longest rumored candidates for the Huskers. He has career ties to both the state and the school and it was thought that he was holding back on signing an extension.

It was thought to be that he was holding off on the extension because he was either going to Nebraska or Wisconsin. Turns out he’s going to be staying in Lawrence instead. It appears the talk that KU was “sweetening the pot” to keep Leipold was true.

Lane Kiffin Almost Off The Board As Well

On Monday night, it was thought that Kiffin was going to be signing with Auburn and leaving Ole Miss. However, after spending most of the evening trolling the reporter who first broke that story, it appears that it was actually quashed.

Today, rumors started circulating that Kiffin is expected to sign his own extension that would keep in at Ole Miss. While nothing has been made official, the fact that he didn’t immediately take to Twitter to end any talk of that happening might have been a form of confirmation.

Along those veins, Matt Rhule obviously didn’t get an extension this week, but it appears he’s out as well. New reports surfaced on Tuesday that said he was indeed offered the Nebraska football head coaching job, but he flat turned it down. Though, it’s worth saying that there are still some who believe he hasn’t said no. It’s not clear if he’s been allowed to do so.

What’s Left For Nebraska Football

Earlier this week, a name that hadn’t been talked about for a while resurfaced. Former Virginia and BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall was mentioned as a late arriving candidate. It’s hard to know how likely this kind of hire would be. He’s certainly not someone who will get people very excited. But he’s definitely available since he’s not currently coaching anywhere.

Reading the tea leaves, there are a handful of coaches that so far, haven’t gotten an extension. Could that mean they’re still in play for Nebraska football?

Right at the top of the list of those who have been at least briefly mentioned as a candidate that hasn’t gotten a new extension just yet is Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell. He’s been relatively under the radar in this coaching search, but he’s got to be the most accomplished of the guys who is left, considering he took the Bearcats to the College Football Playoff.

Added bonus that he might be talking to Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor about what he should be doing since they’re leading teams in the same city and Taylor was an assistant with the Bearcats before making the jump to the pros.

Taylor, a former Nebraska football star would likely have good things to say about the fan base in Lincoln.

One way or another, Nebraska football is going to have its coach sooner rather than later. The smoke is starting to clear but there are still plenty of questions as to who will be the last man standing.