Tom Shatel of the Omaha daily newspaper sat down with Steve Pederson this week for lunch. Kind of a short interview, but some comments on what the athletic director said:
- In regards to Frank Solich's quest for new facilities: "Facilities are a big part of winning. But a lot of schools are going to invest in facilities. Recruiting is still the key to it." I'm still not so sure that Solich was fired over recruiting, but Pederson and Bill Callahan have staked their careers at Nebraska on football recruiting, so it's not surprising that he would say this.
- "We're playing in the toughest conference in the country, in my opinion." Some years, I could probably buy that claim. But this year? Let's get serious here. The Big XII is definitely in a down cycle right now; they might only be the 5th strongest conference in football.
- In response to a question about limiting access to the football program, what with the end of the Extra Point Luncheons and access to the field: "I don't believe so. I'm the guy who started the 'Husker Nation Pavilion,'" where fans can go before games for free. The thing about the field is, we don't want people on the field running around playing touch football. That's been an issue for years." So having the opportunity to buy $3 hot dogs and bottles of pop is somehow an acceptable subsitute for the real thing? C'mon here.
- On criticism of Callahan's coaching last year: "A pass here and a catch there might have changed a game or two dramatically. But the most important thing is making sure you lay the groundwork for your program. You are putting in a program and a way of doing things. You're not going to run the wishbone just to win an extra game. You want to put your system in and show people (recruits) this is what you are going to do." Nobody really suggested that Callahan switch to the wishbone, but the offensive gameplans for Southern Miss and Iowa State sure look like disasters, especially when compared to the game plans for Baylor and Oklahoma. However, the Baylor gameplan was influenced in large part by Marlon Lucky's recruiting visit. And the Oklahoma gameplan was intended to avoid a repeat of the Texas Tech debacle. At some point, Bill Callahan has to start paying more attention to the players he has than he pays the players he hopes to recruit. And the sooner, the better. Remember, last year he loved to talk about the flexibility of his offense.
- On scheduling: "As many home games as possible. We want to maintain a national schedule. We also know it's going to be hard to do that, because everyone wants home games. Ideally, you want to play as many I-A teams as you can. We are working on some big things that I think people will really like." Based on Pederson's record on scheduling since returning to Nebraska, I'm really skeptical here. Everybody remembers last winter's Houston debacle, but don't forget that Pederson rejected Iowa's overtures for a game this season. Meanwhile, Nevada announced plans to play Nebraska in 2007, but this game still doesn't appear on Nebraska's schedule. After this season, the only non-conference games scheduled are USC (2006 & 2007) and Wake Forest (2007).