After months of being one of the scapegoats for everything wrong with Nebraska football, Joe Dailey has decided to move on.
In a statement issued Monday afternoon, NU Coach Bill Callahan confirmed that he granted the junior quarterback’s request for a release from his scholarship to pursue a transfer to another school.
According to Callahan, he and Dailey met Monday afternoon with NU Offensive Coordinator Jay Norvell and discussed Dailey’s desire for a transfer.
Though Callahan said he reiterated that the quarterback position still was open and that a starter had not been officially named, Dailey said it was in his best interest to transfer to another school.
“We’re disappointed in Joe’s decision to leave our program,” Callahan said. “He is a quarterback who knows our offense after spending a year in our system. We have invested a great deal of time and energy in training him to be a successful quarterback at Nebraska.
“I have great respect for Joe as a person and a player, and we appreciate his contributions to this program. We wish Joe the best.”
Dailey declined to comment on his decision when reached by phone Monday evening.
Because Dailey played eight games as true freshman in 2003, he will have three years to play two seasons if he transfers to a Division I-A school not in the Big 12.
Dailey would have to transfer to a Division I-AA school to be eligible for competition next season.
Though Dailey’s decision came as a surprise to his coaches, the decision shouldn’t be a complete shock.
Since earning the starting job at quarterback last fall, Dailey endured heavy criticism and much of the blame for the Huskers’ 5-6 record in 2004.
Despite throwing for 2,025 yards and 17 touchdowns, it was Dailey’s 19 interceptions and inconsistent play that made many question whether he was NU’s answer at quarterback.
Dailey’s situation worsened this spring, when the signings of junior college transfer Zac Taylor and touted prep Harrison Beck all but solidified the notion that the Huskers were looking for a change.
The past week, though, has been the toughest of all for Dailey.
After injuring his shoulder days before the Huskers’ annual Red-White game, Dailey was demoted to fourth on the depth chart behind Taylor, sophomore Beau Davis and redshirt freshman Joe Ganz.
With Taylor’s record-breaking performance – completing 20-for-27 passes for 357 yards and three touchdowns, all in the first half – any momentum Dailey may have had coming into the game shifted in favor of Taylor.
Dailey didn’t help his cause much either, finishing 7-for-20 passing for 121 yards and one interception.
Dailey’s coaches weren’t the only ones surprised by his departure. Many of his teammates hadn’t even heard until asked about it Monday night.
“He knew that he was going to have to fight for his position, whether he ended up first string or fourth string,” senior running back Cory Ross said. “He did pretty much everything he could.
“I’m surprised, but if he thinks it’s best for him, I wish him the best.”
Said senior wide receiver Mark LeFlore: “Wow. It’s a complete shock to me. I figured he would have told me, but I guess Joe has to do what’s best for him.”
LeFlore also said he and Dailey had worked extensively during the offseason, and that there was “no doubt (Dailey) has improved drastically.”
As a result of Dailey’s transfer, NU’s change at quarterback has finally become official.
“Joe and I are good friends, and it’s sad to see him leave,” Ross said. “But like I said before, Joe’s a fighter and he’s a competitor. I wish him the best and hope everything starts getting better for him.”