Published Tuesday, October 8, 2013 at 12:01 am / Updated at 2:43 pm
football
Jamie Williams helps Pelini with Jimmys and Joes, not X's and O's
Nebraska at Purdue
When: 11 a.m. Saturday
Where: Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, Ind.
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: 1110 AM KFAB

LINCOLN — Jamie Williams played enough football in his career — at Nebraska and later for 12 years in the NFL — to come to one definitive conclusion: Every season has its twists, turns and potholes. Even the best seasons.

It’s a mindset the NU associate athletic director wants to have as sport supervisor for Husker football and coach Bo Pelini’s liaison for new Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst.

“Bo and I both know football isn’t a straight line,” said Williams, who’s also charged with overseeing leadership, recruiting and diversity initiatives across the athletic department. “You have to define yourself every year. You have to write the script every year. There’s always something you can’t predict — like a turf toe.”

Like Nebraska’s four-year starting quarterback, Taylor Martinez, suffering that injury on his left foot. Williams, who played for the Cardinals, Oilers, 49ers and Raiders in the NFL, had the injury more than once.

“I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy,” he said.

What Williams wants to focus on now is helping Pelini and Husker football build on NU’s already-strong “brand” and win championships. Williams was appointed to oversee the sport last year by then-Athletic Director Tom Osborne, Eichorst said in a statement through his spokeswoman, and Eichorst kept him in the role this year.

But with the retirement of Osborne — who hired Pelini and was a handy point of contact and reference — Williams started having more conversations with the NU coach “every day or every other day.” He often attends practice and stands in the back of Pelini’s postgame press conferences. He’ll admit, too, he’s probably a little more hands-on than Osborne was, though not about game plans or X’s and O’s. Having served six years as athletic director at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, Williams now prefers the high-level view.

BIG RED TODAY ON FACEBOOK
Join the conversation on the Big Red Today Facebook page.

“College football is such a dynamic process, so we talk about a lot of things,” Williams said. “We’re both football guys, so we can talk and laugh it up, but the one thing I don’t want to do is get in his coaching. I want to clear a path so he can focus on what’s important.”

Pelini said the setup of talking with Williams — who reports to Eichorst — “was different to get used to at first,” but that Williams “brings a good perspective.”

“Jamie has been around a lot,” Pelini said. “Obviously he played a lot of years and brings a player’s perspective to it. He’s been around the game. He’s a lot like Coach Osborne. We don’t talk a lot of specific X’s and O’s, football things. It’s more generalities. He approaches it from an administrator’s standpoint. From that respect, it’s been a really good relationship.”

Eichorst, in his statement, said Williams “has solid credentials and experiences to draw upon. He was a former Husker football student-athlete, enjoyed a long and successful career in the NFL and is an established athletics administrator and mentor.”

One area in which Pelini and Williams have worked: recruiting. Williams said Pelini requested more recruiting staffing help in the offseason, so NU is hiring a director of recruiting operations while giving more recruiting responsibility to the director of player personnel, as well. After those positions are filled, Williams said, NU will hire two more regional recruiting assistants to work under the recruiting director.

“Everything you can do to get more information out and to identify guys earlier,” Pelini said about the rationale behind his request. “Everything is getting sped up so much. I feel it’s like coaching defense. Everything is getting sped up. It’s always an issue. It’s always a concern that you have to keep addressing.

“I think obviously Jamie and Shawn, they understand that, too. At the same time, you have to play within what the rules are. You have to do it the right way. You have to have a purpose behind what you’re doing and a plan. I think we do.”

Attracting top talent — which Williams said he plans to address in every Husker sport, since recruiting falls under his oversight — is harder than ever. Williams compared it to having three TV channels he watched growing up compared with the hundreds of channels on cable and satellite TV now. There are more athletes at more advanced stages of their development, with more teams scouting them.

“It’s a proliferation of data points,” Williams said. “It keeps you busy.”

Pelini echoes those thoughts.

“It’s just about finding ways to get an edge and get better,” he said. “Just keep looking at ways to keep improving what we’re doing.”

* * *

Video: The Big Red Today Show, Oct. 8

Contact the writer: Sam McKewon

sam.mckewon@owh.com    |   402-219-3790    |  

Sam McKewon covers Nebraska football for The World-Herald. Got a tip, question or rant? Good. Email him. Follow him on Twitter. Call him.

PHOTO GALLERY AND VIDEO »

 

< >
SPOTLIGHT »
2013 college football preview
View our 2013 college football preview, a 26-page, three-part section filled with coverage of the Huskers, Big Ten conference and more.
Big Red Bowl Retrospective
See complete historical results, game recaps and photo coverage from the Nebraska Cornhuskers college football bowl game appearances, from the 1941 Rose Bowl up to today.
Big Ten football recruits
The World-Herald's Big Ten recruiting database contains every football recruit that signed with a Big Ten school from 2002 to 2011, complete with color-coded interactive map representations, player information, high-concentrations recruiting clusters and more.
Devaney Center timeline
Check out a World-Herald timeline to see the evolution of memorable moments at the Devaney Center, complete with photos, videos, memorable quotes and more.
Follow OWHbigred on Twitter
Looking for the latest Husker sports news from The Omaha World-Herald and Omaha.com? Follow us on Twitter!
Husker scholarship distribution chart
Want to see how many scholarships NU has invested at each position? Wondering how the Huskers have appropriated their offers by class? Check out our handy chart to look further into how Bo Pelini has built his team.
Husker Signing Day 2013
The World-Herald's top-notch coverage of the Nebraska football's class of 2013, complete with videos, photos, articles, live recruit interviews, interactive components and more.
Husker turnovers: A slippery slope
Bo Pelini has coached 68 games at Nebraska. When NUís turnover margin is positive or even, the Huskers are 35-2. When they lose the turnover battle, theyíre 13-18. Why hasnít Nebraska joined the nationís elite? More than anything, itís turnovers.
Interactive: Bo Pelini's contract
View an interactive PDF of Pelini's revised contract signed by the NU football coach, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Darin Erstad's contract (2012)
View an interactive PDF of NU baseball coach Darin Erstad's contract released in August 2012, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Tim Miles' contract
View an interactive PDF of Tim Miles' contract signed by the Nebraska men's basketball coach on May 4, 2012, complete with brief legal explanations, comparisons to other Big Ten coaches and more.
Omaha.com's Big Ten coverage
Delivering the best news coverage and analysis of the Big Ten Conference, from Omaha.com and other top news outlets from around country.
Husker Recruiting: Changes shrink NU's sphere of influence
For decades, the Great Plains represented fertile recruiting ground for Tom Osborne's football program. Restoring that lost tradition won't be easy.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
Buy Now
BRT ON TWITTER »
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT »
< >