LINCOLN - Rick Darlington
has conducted enough interviews in the last four months to politely make a point - but purposefully make it clear.
I'm not going to play again, am I? Zack asked Rick
with tears in his
Tears - of fear, of relief, of resolve - were not in short supply that weekend.
You aren't going to play your senior season, Rick
Rick returned in 2006 to be head coach for a second stint in Apopka, just northwest of Orlando.
The Darlingtons settled in as Apopka
became a powerhouse in Florida's largest class, 8A, annually producing multiple FBS recruits.
Zack ascended to starting quarterback, while Rick designed and called plays for the Blue Darters' offense, inspired in part by the philosophy of former Husker coach Tom Osborne, who ran power football out of a dizzying number of sets.
took Zack in his gray Chevy Silverado to the hospital.
Rick consulted with several doctors, including Dr. Semyon Slobounov, a professor and scientist at Penn State whose focus, according to PSU's website, is "sports-related traumatic brain injuries.
"At first, I was mad at him for staying in bounds," Rick
Said Rick: "I wasn't surprised, because that's the kind of man Coach Pelini is."
noticed that his
son's personality, his
character, didn't change after his
high school career ended.
Same competitive juices.
the same whether he's
on top of the world or whether he's
not playing football," Rick
been very consistent.
That's a silver lining."
had to retool his
, a 6-foot-1, 220-pound bruiser, in the single wing.
Handoffs every which way.
And it worked.
A Sentinel columnist wrote that Rick "could easily be the next Gus Malzahn" - the Auburn head coach who parlayed his own high school single-wing into one national title for the Tigers as offensive coordinator and an appearance in this season's BCS title game, which will be played in two weeks.
So while Rick
son will play football at NU, he
knows something else, too, when it comes to sliding.