I get the feeling many Nebraska football fans are largely unfamiliar with Jake Peetz.

Familiarity increased markedly Wednesday when LSU announced Peetz was its new offensive coordinator. 

A Nebraska long-snapper and defensive back in the early 2000s, Peetz's relatively quiet rise in the profession has been heading toward something big, but probably only a few Husker fans were keenly aware of it.



An O'Neill native who attended St. Mary's High School, Peetz worked seven seasons as an assistant in the NFL and four in the NCAA, most of which were spent as a quarterbacks coach. He spent this season with the Carolina Panthers in that role. 

In my past conversations with Peetz, he's made clear that his time spent in the Alabama program — he was an offensive analyst in 2013 and 2018 — were critical in his development as a coach. LSU is scheduled to open SEC play in 2021 against Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Make no mistake, that day will have ample significance for the 37-year-old Peetz, and not just because of Alabama's remarkable prowess.

"People ask me the secret to coach (Nick) Saban," Peetz once told me. "I tell them it's so simple that you're not even going to write it down, and you're going to think I'm hiding something from you.

"It's this: Everybody has a defined role and expectation, and you're held accountable to that. That's what it is to the nth degree. Your role is defined. You're going to have a very high expectation, and you will be held accountable, and you're going to be given every opportunity to succeed.

"I think I'll look back at that experience, working for Coach Saban, as the defining moment in my learning and my understanding — and being pushed to the limit."

If you're a Nebraska football fan, you are perhaps still thinking, "Who is this Jake Peetz guy? And how did he advance this far in coaching, to where he works in such a prominent role for an LSU program that just won a national championship in 2019?"

"I think a lot of success is having the willingness to learn and having great people to lead you and teach you," Peetz said in 2017, making sure to point out that former Nebraska head coach Bill Callahan in 2004 encouraged him to get into coaching. 


Peetz was considering law school at the time. His parents were attorneys. 

But Peetz jumped into the coaching profession, and began to climb the ladder — including a stint this season working under Joe Brady, Carolina's offensive coordinator, who helped guide LSU to a 2019 CFP national championship in his only season with the Tigers. 

Yeah, that connection was the key to Peetz landing his new gig. 

He was in his first year as the Oakland Raiders' quarterbacks coach in 2017 when we caught up during the offseason. He was hired by Oakland in 2015 as an offensive assistant following NFL stops at Washington (2014) and Jacksonville (2008-12), and collegiate stops at Alabama (2013), UCLA (2007) and Santa Barbara (California) City College (2006).

He's held a variety of titles: defensive quality control, scouting assistant, offensive analyst, offensive quality control and wide receivers assistant.

Those years at Alabama seemed to make the biggest impression on him. That should come as no surprise considering Saban is arguably the best coach in the history of college football. 

There was a byproduct of Peetz's duties at Bama that was particularly beneficial. That is, Peetz had to learn the Crimson Tide defense and its verbiage because when the Tide's offensive coaches broke down an opponent's defense, they had to use terms that Saban could understand.

They needed to speak Saban's language, if you will.

"At Alabama, everybody that comes in there (to work) learns Coach Saban's terminology," Peetz said.

By the way, Saban had advice for Peetz.

"He told me if you want to be great in this profession, you need to learn and understand defense at a very high level if you want to be good on offense," Peetz said.

It's common sense, really.

"How are you going to develop an offense to attack a defense if you don't understand clearly what the defense is trying to achieve?" Peetz said. "If you don't understand your opponent, you're throwing mud at the wall and seeing if it sticks.

"I was forced to learn Coach Saban's defense at a high level so I could communicate all of that, and that, to me, put my trajectory at a great incline because I started to understand defense the way he saw it — not exactly like he saw it, obviously. I wish …," Peetz continued. "But it helps me so much more on offense to understand (Alabama's defense). And to be around him when he would come in and talk to the offensive staff, when we were all in there, and he would talk about, 'These are the concepts you're talking about running, this is what they're doing on defense,' because he would watch the opponent's defense, too.

"He would always talk about the 'why.'"

In other words, Saban would say he liked certain plays for precise reasons. He could tell you exactly why.

(I've long maintained "why" is arguably the most important word in our language).

"I was trying to be a sponge because I knew I was in the midst of great coaches," Peetz said. "I wanted to be like them. I didn't want anything they said to go un-analyzed or not understood. I think I'll look back at that experience, working for Coach Saban, as the defining moment in my learning and my understanding, and being pushed to the limit." 

He'll again be pushed to the limit by Alabama soon enough, just in a different sort of way. 

Saban's obviously very familiar with LSU's new offensive coordinator — and many others are now learning more about him, too. 

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