Wednesday, July 20, 2005

ESPN: Callahan on the hot seat

In ESPN's preview of the 2005 Huskers, Bill Callahan is rated as one of three coaches on the hot seat. The others are Charlie Weis at Notre Dame and Urban Meyer at Florida. While I'm positive the fanatics at Huskerpedia will vehemently disagree, the fact is that the "Husker Nation" still remains divided about the changing of the guard in Lincoln, and until Callahan starts winning, that division is not going away.

The pro-change posters will point to 60K fans at the Spring game as proof that Husker fans are solidly behind the changes, but they forget that the last 2 spring games were blessed with sunny skies and 80 degree weather unlike many of the previous years. I've talked with many long-time season ticket holders who said they've given up their season tickets. Ticket demand is definitely lower; last season, the renewal rate was the lowest in decades and the ticket office was still selling season tickets to fans in August. Hundreds of tickets went unused at the Baylor game. After the Colorado game, Steve Pederson was loudly booed twice at halftime, and afterwards, a banner thanking "Bob, Tom, and Frank for 42 years of excellence" featuring a teary-eyed Lil' Red was hung on the booster parking garage across the street. And don't forget that fundraising for the Tom and Nancy Osborne Complex has been stalled ever since the Solich firing.

Is 2 years too soon to fire a coach? In the past, perhaps. But last year, Florida and Notre Dame fired coaches after only 3 years. So, 2 years might not be too soon. Callahan's main strength is his recruiting, and that probably will buy him more time. More repeats of game day disasters like Southern Miss, Texas Tech, and Iowa State, or another "f'n hillbillies" outburst could lead to another house-cleaning in South Stadium. Some people will say that Steve Pederson won't fire Callahan, but they ignore that Pederson is the lightning rod for many fan's angst and will be the first to be removed.

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