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Newz Forum: FOOTBALL: Bill Callahan gets 'fresh start' with 'Huskers

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posted on Aug, 18 2004 @ 06:27 PM
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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Ten days after getting run out of Oakland, Bill Callahan walked into Lincoln and took over one of the nation's most high-profile college football programs. Time will tell whether it's a soft landing for the man who two years ago led the Raiders to the Super Bowl.
 

But one thing's for sure.

"It's a fresh start," Callahan said.

A fresh start for Callahan and the Cornhuskers, who despite playing for a national title in 2001 have lost their place among college football's elite since the championship years of the mid-1990s. Athletic director Steve Pederson took a calculated risk by firing Frank Solich, who had a 58-19 record after serving as Tom Osborne's right-hand man for 19 years, and hiring Callahan, an outsider who had never visited the state before his job interview.

It didn't help Pederson when the usually stoic Osborne appeared weepy during a news conference the coach turned-congressman called to criticize the decision to dismiss his hand-picked successor. The 48-year-old Callahan has tried to appease the old-guard fans, promising to stay true to the past. He invites former players to visit practice, and he's keeping alive traditions such as calling the defensive starters "Blackshirts."

But Callahan has made fast and decisive changes.

Nebraska's signature, stop-us-if-you-can triple-option offense is out. The modern-age West Coast offense is in. A stable of assistant coaches who loyally served Osborne and Solich are out. In are new lieutenants who, except for receivers coach Turner Gill and tight ends coach Scott Downing, have no previous ties to the Huskers. A roster that often numbered 200-plus in the Osborne and Solich days has been trimmed to 126, raising concerns among Nebraska high school coaches that homegrown players will have reduced opportunities to play for the Big Red.

"I knew the history of Nebraska," Callahan said. "I will say that the more you're immersed in this position, you get a real appreciation and a deep respect for what these fans are all about and what Nebraska football means to the state."

He says he's not wary of working at a place where his predecessor was fired after posting a .753 winning percentage.

"Expectations are high, and I embrace that," he said. "That's part of the folklore here."

Callahan was a college assistant for 15 years before going to the NFL in 1995, and he built a reputation as an outstanding recruiter.

Quarterback Joe Dailey said the players have taken to Callahan's more gregarious style.

"Coach Solich was a silent guy," Dailey said. "Coach Callahan is a very vocal guy. He talks up a storm and gets you excited."

Callahan went to Oakland as offensive coordinator in 1998. After Jon Gruden left for Tampa Bay after the 2001 season, Callahan was promoted to head coach. In his first year the Raiders led the NFL in offense and reached the Super Bowl, where they lost to Gruden's Buccaneers. Callahan's second season as head coach ended with his firing on Dec. 31 after a 4-12 campaign. A team that initially appeared primed to make another run at the Super Bowl was beset by injuries, and by the end of the year a vocal group of veterans had turned on Callahan.

Callahan won't discuss his departure from Oakland other than to say, "Any time you spend too long a time in one place, it can wear on you. My time was up in Oakland. It was time to move on, move forward." Pederson contacted Callahan after at least three other candidates withdrew from consideration. Callahan said it was an easy decision to come to Nebraska. He signed a six-year contract that, with incentives and perks, is worth $1.5 million a year.

"He's a Nebraska kind of guy," Pederson said. "My hope would be that I would never have to hire another football coach. I think we've got a guy who will have a tremendous career at Nebraska."

Although things ended badly for him in Oakland, Callahan said he doesn't have anything to prove as a coach.

"Something to prove? That's a revenge factor, and that's not in my makeup," Callahan said. "There are good coaches in this conference, and I come in here humble and respectful."

At the same time, Callahan knows he must win soon and often.

"There is a history of winning here that you have to measure up to," he said. "Being a national champion and having that goal is no different than shooting for the Super Bowl each year you're in the National Football League."



Ben

posted on Aug, 18 2004 @ 07:34 PM
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Bill is a good coach, and he should be able to get a fresh start and take the Huskers back to the top.



posted on Aug, 18 2004 @ 09:36 PM
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Originally posted by Ben
Bill is a good coach, and he should be able to get a fresh start and take the Huskers back to the top.

NNOOO!!!


Ben

posted on Aug, 19 2004 @ 11:05 AM
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how come you dont think so gibbs?



posted on Aug, 19 2004 @ 04:21 PM
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As a Penn State fan, I simply cannot be hapy about anything that may even remotely be good for Nebraska football.

always remember 1994


Ben

posted on Aug, 19 2004 @ 05:07 PM
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Penn state football isnt so hot right now, sorry to say.

I am a semi corn husker fan, i liked how they used Eric in the option that was a pretty site to watch.



posted on Aug, 19 2004 @ 10:11 PM
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Doubtless, the Lions haven't been all that well the last few years. But, the Huskers can NOt be forgeiven for stealing the championship in '94.


Ben

posted on Aug, 20 2004 @ 11:01 AM
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Do you know when big joe is going to retire from the lions



posted on Aug, 21 2004 @ 01:05 PM
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Originally posted by Ben
Do you know when big joe is going to retire from the lions


Nobody knows, probably not even him..

I imagine that he will be on the sidelines in a couple of years, and have a heartattack chasing down the referees...



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