Mark Banker completed his second season as Nebraska's defensive coordinator in 2016 and his 14th consecutive year as a college defensive coordinator, after working with Mike Riley at Oregon State
for the previous 12 years. In all, Banker has 36 years of coaching experience and his defenses have historically been among the top in the nation.
In 2016, Banker's defense ranked 1st in the nation in 4th Down Stops (percentage), 10th in the nation/2nd in the Big 10 in Fumble Recoveries, and 16th in the nation/2nd in the Big 10 in Red Zone Defense,
helping the Huskers to a berth in the Music City Bowl against Tennessee.
In his first season at Nebraska, Banker's defense was strong against the run, continuing a trait of his defenses. The Huskers ranked ninth nationally in rushing defense, allowing 109.8 yards per game. The per-game rushing average was the lowest for a Nebraska defense since 2009 and the third-lowest mark since 2000.
Nebraska also ranked third in the Big Ten and in the top 25 nationally in third-down defense, allowing opponents to convert just 34.0 percent of attempts. The defense continued to progress throughout the season despite a rash of injuries. The Blackshirts held each of the final two regular-season opponents to fewer than 260 yards of total offense, while allowing only two touchdown drives of longer than 35 yards in those contests.
Banker developed one of the top defenses in the nation at Oregon State while developing over 50 players who earned postseason all-conference honors.
In 2012, his defensive led the Beavers to a dramatic improvement and an invitation to the Valero Alamo Bowl. The Beavers finished third for overall defense in the Pac-12 Conference, including second for scoring defense, and was sixth in the nation for third-down percentage defense. Jordan Poyer became the first OSU consensus All-American in over 40 years.
Banker’s 2011 defense produced freshman All-American defensive ends Scott Crichton and Dylan Wynn, as well as Pac-12 all-conference cornerback Jordan Poyer. A total of 10 first time starters played on the defense, making it one of the youngest units in the nation.
Banker was named the Pac-10 Defensive Coordinator of the Week in 2010 for his team’s effort in allowing just 255 yards in a 38-6 victory over No. 20 USC. Seven players on defense earned Pac-10 Conference postseason honors, including defensive tackle Stephen Paea earning his second Morris Trophy honor, presented annually to league’s top defensive lineman. Paea also earned consensus All-America honors.
Banker had only three starters return to his defense in 2009, yet he molded the team to make yet another run at the conference title finishing second. Paea was the recipient of the Pac-10’s Morris Trophy and linebacker Keaton Kristick joined Paea on the conference’s first team.
In 2008, Banker’s defense ranked second in the Pac-10, allowing 312.2 yards per game. There were many highlights to the season, including shutting down the vaunted USC offense in a 27-21 victory in then the No. 1 Trojans only loss of the year. The Beavers also shut out Pittsburgh in the Sun Bowl, marking the only postseason game where a team was held scoreless.
In 2007, the defense was first against the rush (70.6 yards), fourth for quarterback sacks (3.4 per game), sixth for tackles-for-loss (8.2) and eighth for total defense (306.2). Eleven players earned postseason honors and linebacker Joey LaRocque was drafted by the Chicago Bears
His 2006 team led the Pac-10 and finished third for quarterback sacks, was the conference leader for red-zone defense and led the nation for tackles-for-loss yardage (528). The team also produced four all-conference players, including first team honoree Sabby Piscitelli, one of the best safeties to ever play at OSU. Piscitelli went on to be drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Banker first stepped onto the OSU campus in 1997 with Riley, and has spent 16 of the last 17 seasons with him. He spent two years at OSU as the secondary coach and recruiting coordinator. The ’97 Beavers ranked among the Pac-10’s best for interceptions with 16 and Banker helped the program finish sixth in the league for pass defense.
Banker began his coaching career in 1979 as a graduate assistant for his alma mater, Springfield College in Massachusetts. He spent two years at Springfield, one as an offensive line coach and one as running backs coach, before embarking on a full-time career.
His first full-time opportunity came at Cal State-Northridge in 1981. He remained with the Matador program until 1994, serving 11 years as defensive coordinator. When he first arrived at CSUN the program had just 11 scholarships; when he left the program sponsored 54.
In 1995 he moved to the Football Bowl Subdivision (Div. 1) ranks at the University of Hawai’i as the outside linebackers and special teams coach. In 1996 he joined the University of Southern California staff, joining offensive coordinator Mike Riley.
Following his first tenure at Oregon State, Banker went with most of the coaching staff to San Diego to work for the Chargers. He was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2001 after serving two seasons as the cornerbacks coach. As the coordinator the Chargers ranked 11th in the league for total defense and first for rush defense average.