Nebraska Football: Bob Wager charges left Matt Rhule no choice

Head coach Matt Rhule of the Nebraska football team speaks at Big Ten football media days at Lucas Oil Stadium (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Head coach Matt Rhule of the Nebraska football team speaks at Big Ten football media days at Lucas Oil Stadium (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Nebraska football head coach Matt Rhule has talked a lot about ensuring everyone on the Huskers team is walking a straight line. Whether that’s doing well in class, or dressing right, or always being on time to meetings, while Rhule has never said the words “zero tolerance policy,” it’s clear that he demands something as close to perfection as possible from those around him.

That’s why when now former tight ends coach Bob Wager was cited for several driving offenses on Wednesday, the new Nebraska football coach had little choice but to accept his resignation. Especially this year. Especially this month.

Wager announced on Friday evening that he had received a citation for a “driving offense” earlier in the week and because of that, he was stepping down from his position as Nebraska football’s tight ends coach.

It turns out there was more than one offense. In fact, it was five offenses stemming from one incident of driving under the influence. Those charges were DUI with a blood alcohol level of more than .15, driving with an open container, careless driving, refusal of a preliminary sobriety test, and refusal of a chemical sobriety test.

The Nebraska football program moved fast. At the same time Wager stepped down, the University announced that Josh Martin was taking over Wager’s position. Martin was on staff as a special teams analyst. He’ll now return to full-time coaching.

Nebraska football had to make the move

It’s not just that Matt Rhule is someone who demands that people around him keep their nose clean that made Wager’s exit a necessity. It’s also the fact that the Big Ten is having a bad month.

Wager’s resignation came before the media got wind of his Wednesday infractions. The Nebraska football program would not sit around and wait for people to find out about wrongdoing like they did in Evanston.

Rhule wasn’t going to allow there to be any kind of degrading of his character like PJ Fleck saw just ahead of Big Ten Media Days.

Coming off an event where Matt Rhule was unanimously praised for his handling of the media and in turn, where Nebraska football was talked seriously about returning to the top of the mountain, he couldn’t allow one of his assistant coaches to continue on staff with such serious allegations against him.

It’s not as though this isn’t without precedent in the Matt Rhule regime, either. When former interim head coach Mickey Joseph was arrested, the school almost immediately cut ties, even if he wasn’t officially fired until a few weeks later.

Letting Bob Wager go doesn’t sweep this issue under the rug. Nor will Nebraska football move past it for a while. Rhule will almost certainly face quite a few questions after his first practices of fall camp on July 31.

But it does make a statement that when he makes it clear he wants his program to be above board, he means that applies to literally everyone associated with Nebraska football.