Things I know, and things I think I know:

Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl will be hesitant to talk much about himself this week — he's been that way for as long as I've known him — even though he returns Saturday to a place where he learned plenty about himself.

He was Nebraska's linebackers coach from 1995-99 before replacing Charlie McBride as defensive coordinator in 2000. NU's defense in 2001 was a top-10 unit nationally, but a 62-36 loss at Colorado waylaid the program. 

After Nebraska finished 7-6 during the 2002 regular season, Bohl was among the assistants let go by then-head coach Frank Solich.

Those were particularly dark days for the program. And it was an especially unpleasant period for Bohl, who was in his mid-40s and suddenly out of work. His marriage was failing. His priorities were out of whack, he told me during a 2008 interview in Fargo, North Dakota, where he was leading North Dakota State to unprecedented success.

Bottom line, he learned from his struggles in Lincoln and altered his approach to coaching and life. As a coach, he said, he learned he needed to improve his communication skills with players.

"I think I got too doggone embroiled in specific schemes, in X's and O's," he said. "I can still remember walking down a hallway, seeing a player and not even acknowledging him because I always was thinking so much."

As far back as the late 1990s, he said, he had decided he might make a better head coach than coordinator. He saw himself as a big-picture guy, a CEO of sorts. Turns out, he was right. He took over as North Dakota State's head coach in 2003 as the Bison were making the ambitious move to Division I-AA (now the Football Championship Subdivision).

In his final three seasons in Fargo, 2011-13, North Dakota State went 43-2 and won three FCS crowns.

Now, in his third season as Wyoming's head coach, he's 7-18 entering Saturday's game at Memorial Stadium. Perhaps his foremost challenge is recruiting players to Laramie, a wind-swept burg of 23,000 on the high plateau of Wyoming.

Former Nebraska secondary coach George Darlington recalls conversations with the late John Melton, who was among the crew of assistants that legendary head coach Bob Devaney brought to Nebraska from Wyoming in 1962.

"John said they literally guarded the train station and bus station in Laramie during the early days of fall camp to make sure kids didn't go home," Darlington said with a chuckle. "It is a difficult job."

When Bohl took over the program in December 2013, he had a simple message for players: "Those who stay are going to be champions."

Of course, the 58-year-old speaks with a high degree of credibility, as someone who built a powerhouse program in windswept and frigid Fargo.

He has quite a story to tell — a remarkable comeback story, really.

* Darlington, a defensive assistant at NU from 1973 until 2002, once again will share his ample wisdom with those who sign up for his annual football facts class, which this year begins Thursday and runs seven weeks in a row (for information, call 402-437-2700 or visit continuinged@southeast.edu).

Darlington, by the way, watched Nebraska's game Saturday night from Tom Osborne's suite at Memorial Stadium.

"I think they're better in the secondary athletically," Darlington said. "Hopefully, No. 25 (safety Nate Gerry), when he comes back this week (from a one-game suspension), will have improved from last year. He missed a ton of tackles in crucial situations. I'm critical of him because he has the athleticism to be a great player."

* Perhaps you've heard the news: Brian Rosenthal, after nearly 16 years at the Journal Star, has moved on to the Nebraska athletic department to be a writer and creative content specialist for huskers.com. There's a lot going on in life, and it often comes at you quickly. So, Rosenthal's big move really didn't fully hit me until Saturday night, when I saw him in the press box wearing a smile, not to mention a bright red polo with a big white "N" on the chest.

It looked pretty natural, come to think of it. We wish him well.

* My dad's in his 70s and has been watching Nebraska football games forever. He's a tremendous sports fan — intelligent, frank and fair in his assessments.

Safe to say he wasn't blown away by the Huskers' performance.

"I didn't see a 9-3 team out there," he said, perhaps referring to my preseason prediction.

In other words, he didn't see a team capable of winning any sort of championship.

Neither did NU head coach Mike Riley, apparently. He was agitated in the postgame. Going forward, that will remain in the back of my mind.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.


Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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