Big Ten football notebook | Wisconsin, Nebraska introduce new head coaches, Cade McNamara enters transfer portal

The Michigan quarterback will transfer out of the program after losing the starting spot to sophomore J.J. McCarthy earlier this season.


Jerod Ringwald

Michigan quarterback quarterback Cade McNamara speaks with media during day one of Big Ten Media Days at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind., on Tuesday, July 26, 2022. McNamara was asked about being back in the stadium after last playing against Iowa in the Big Ten Championship in December. “Those feelings that we felt [from the Big Ten Championship] as they’re being triggered right now, you know, it only makes you want to work harder,” McNamara said at his podium. The event marked the 50th annual Big Ten Media Days.

Austin Hanson, Pregame Editor

Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara has entered the transfer portal, per multiple reports. The former four-star recruit played in all 14 of the Wolverines games in 2021, amassing 2,470 yards and 15 touchdowns.

McNamara started last year’s Big Ten Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The 6-foot-1, 206-pounder threw for 169 yards and a touchdown in Michigan’s 42-3 win over Iowa.

McNamara was benched at the beginning of the 2022 season in favor of J.J. McCarthy — a five-star recruit. McCarthy backed up McNamara last season, racking up 485 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns as a true freshman.

McNamara had been dealing with a leg injury throughout the 2021 and 2022 seasons. He had surgery on his right knee at the beginning of November. He released a statement following the procedure performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in California.

“Turns out, I have been dealing with a serious injury since the middle of last season,” McNamara wrote. “Then, after suffering another serious knee injury this season, my goal was to get back on the field as soon as possible. Sadly, I was unable to heal properly, but thanks to Dr. ElAttrache, he was able to help me determine exactly what I needed to do to come back the best version of myself. What lies ahead is a lot of work and rehab, but I will come back better than ever!”

McNamara’s return-to-play timetable is currently unknown. 

Late Monday afternoon, some began to speculate that Iowa might be a transfer destination for McNamara.


Tyler Barnes, Iowa football’s director of recruiting, currently follows McNamara and his father, Gary McNamara.

Cade McNamara has yet to release a list of destinations and schools he has locked in on. Eligibility-wise, Cade McNamara is listed as a graduate transfer.

Rhule named head coach at Nebraska 

Nebraska officially introduced Matt Rhule as its new head football coach Monday. Reports of Nebraska’s interest in Rhule began to circulate before the Cornhuskers’ matchup with the Hawkeyes last Friday.

“I am here because this is the right fit, it’s the right time,” Rhule told reporters during his introductory press conference on Monday. “And if I have one message for you: We can absolutely do it. We can absolutely get University of Nebraska football exactly where it’s supposed to be. It will be hard. It may take time, but it will be done.”

Nebraska defeated Iowa, 24-17, in Mickey Joseph’s last game as interim head coach. Joseph was the Cornhuskers’ associate head coach, wide receivers coach, and passing game coordinator before he received the promotion.

Joseph replaced Scott Frost, who was fired on Sept. 11 after the Cornhuskers started the season 1-2 with losses to Northwestern and Georgia Southern. Nebraska will pay Frost around a $15 million buyout, according to the Omaha World-Herald.

“Let’s be honest, there’s a Power 2 now,” Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts told ESPN. “Certainly not to denigrate any of the other conferences, but that’s kind of where we’re heading. … If we’re going to be serious about having Nebraska football competing at the upper level of the Big Ten Conference, there’s going to be resources needed to acquire that talent.”

Rhule coached the NFL’s Carolina Panthers for about two seasons, posting an 11-27 record. The Panthers fired Rhule on Oct. 10.

He was owed $34 million by the Panthers, per ESPN. Rhule, who signed a seven-year contract with Carolina in January 2020, said the Panthers were involved in his negotiations with the Cornhuskers.

Rhule inked an eight-year, $74 million deal with Nebraska, according to multiple reports. Ninety percent of his contract is guaranteed.

Luke Fickell introduced as Wisconsin head coach

Wisconsin named Luke Fickell its new head football coach Sunday. The former University of Cincinnati coach replaced interim head coach Jim Leonhard, who many thought would get the Badgers’ job full-time.

Wisconsin fired Paul Chryst, who coached the Badgers for eight seasons, on Oct. 2. Wisconsin was 2-3 when they terminated Chryst. Under Leonhard’s supervision, the Badgers finished the regular season 6-6.

Fickell went 57-18 with Cincinnati, leading the American Athletic Conference Bearcats to three bowl games and a 2021 College Football Playoff appearance.

Fickell was an assistant coach at Ohio State from 2002-16, serving as interim head coach in 2011.

Fickell was introduced as the Badgers’ new head coach Monday evening. Per ESPN’s Pete Thamel, Fickell signed a seven-year deal with the Badgers that is worth about $7.9 million per season.

“This is a destination job at a program that I have admired from afar for years,” Fickell said in a statement Sunday. “I am in total alignment with [Wisconsin athletic director] Chris McIntosh’s vision for this program. There is a tremendous foundation here that I can’t wait to build upon. This world-class university, athletic department, and passionately loyal fan base all have a strong commitment to success, and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”