Two Former Nebraska Cornhuskers Join Northern Iowa Coaching Staff

Joe Ganz carries the ball for Nebraska
Doug Pensinger / Getty Images

The Nebraska football team’s coaching tree grew a bit on Tuesday evening. That’s because Northern Iowa announced it has hired two former Cornhuskers as position coaches. Ironically enough, the two were also colleagues at Nebraska back in the day, though they were in very different roles back then.

UNI announced on Twitter that Joe Ganz will be the team’s new wide receivers assistant and Shawn Watson has joined the staff as to handle the quarterbacks. In hiring the duo, Northern Iowa managed to nab two coaches who know the area where the Panthers operate. Each has some experience in the coaching field, though there is quite a range of experience in filling out the staff under 20-year head man Mark Farley.

This is technically Ganz’s second full-time gig as an assistant. After playing quarterback for Nebraska from 2006 to 2008, he eventually decided he wanted to go into coaching. He also started that career with the Cornhuskers as a grad assistant but was hired as a full-time assistant by Bo Pelini at Youngstown State. When Pelini left the Penguins to become the defensive coordinator for the LSU Tigers, the rest of his staff had to decide where to head next.

After a few months in limbo, Ganz has caught on with Northern Iowa.

Joe Ganz throws the football for Nebraska
  Brian Bahr / Getty Images

Watson certainly knows about finding himself in limbo as he’s a well-traveled assistant. He landed in Lincoln in 2006 as the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator for the Huskers after being hired away from Colorado. In 2007, he was promoted to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach and began tutoring none other than Joe Ganz. It was under Watson that Ganz rose from oft-forgotten backup to starting quarterback for the Huskers in 2007 and 2008. The quarterback finished his Nebraska career completing 65 percent of his passes for over 5,000 yards and 44 touchdowns to just 18 interceptions.

After the 2010 season, Watson left Nebraska and spent three seasons with Louisville where he most notably coached Teddy Bridgewater. After that, he spent two seasons in Texas, a year at Indiana, two years at Pitt, and was the quality control coach at Georgia last season.

With that kind of a resume, it might surprise some to see such a seasoned coach dropping down the FCS level. This is actually the first time Watson has dropped down from the FBS level since he took the head coaching job at Southern Illinois from 1994 to 1996.

Now that a couple of former Nebraska football luminaries have landed at Northern Iowa, the big question is whether or not they’ll get to actually coach in 2020.