By Lincoln Arneal
After firing Scott Frost, Nebraska Athletic Director Trev Alberts had multiple options on who to name as the interim head coach.
However, with No. 6 Oklahoma coming to Lincoln on Saturday for a nationally-televised game, Alberts said most of the staff has much on their plates this week. Offensive coordinator Mark Whipple would need to devote his attention to developing a game plan to attack the Sooners. In addition, the defensive staff needed to make adjustments after the Huskers were shredded for 45 points and 642 yards by Georgia Southern.
In the end, Mickey Joseph, associate head coach and wide receiver coach, was promoted to interim head coach on Sunday. Alberts said Joseph’s personality, energy and enthusiasm should serve him well as the program’s leader.
“We needed a different voice. We need to provide hope for these young men,” Alberts said. “Football is a tough sport. You have to force yourself to do things you don’t want to do physically. Having somebody that can pull that out of you and motivate you to do that, in my observations of Coach Joseph, I think he has some of those attributes. I’d like to see him function in that role.”
Joseph faces a tall task to right the Huskers’ ship after a 1-2 start. While no other personnel changes were announced, Alberts said Joseph has the full authority to reorganize the staff.
Alberts and Joseph met with the players on Sunday morning to discuss the path forward with Frost no longer involved with the program.
“There’ll be some immediate, fairly significant changes in his approach,” Alberts said. “He had a very poignant conversation with the team today that I thought they took very well.”
Nebraska hired Joseph, a New Orleans native, in December after spending the past five years at LSU under Ed Orgeron, including the last two as assistant head coach.
Joseph served as the head coach at Langston University, an NAIA school in Oklahoma, from 2011-12. He went 13-7 before leaving to coach at Alcorn State. Joseph also made stops at Grambling State and Louisiana Tech. In addition, he was the head coach and athletic director of Desire Street Academy in New Orleans for four years from 2005-08 before the school closed.
Alberts and Joseph overlapped during their playing careers at Nebraska. Joseph started nine games for the Huskers, rushing for 1,091 yards and 16 touchdowns while passing for 909 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Going forward, Alberts said he plans to conduct a national search and talk to many people, but Joseph could make himself a candidate with how he leads the program during the next few months.
“I think we have an opportunity to hire an outstanding coach that can lead the program,” Alberts said. “I’d love to see Mickey grow into that, and we’ll see where it goes. But again, we’ll do a national search, and at that point, if Mickey is an obvious candidate, he will be part of that conversation as well.”
In the interim, Joseph and the Nebraska staff will have to solve many challenges to turn around the season. Still, Alberts said he plans to keep a consistent approach and offer any support they need, including contacting recruits.
“I’ll do whatever Mickey and the staff ask me to do,” Alberts said.