Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Must Win for Callahan, Part II?

Before the Iowa State game, HuskerH8ter AJ asked if that game was a must win for Callahan. I said no at that time. In the end, it was a moot point; the Huskers won handily.

So, let's fast forward 4 games. After a victory against Kansas State, Nebraska returns to Memorial Stadium on a 2 game losing streak to face Missouri, with the winner having a 1 game lead and the tiebreaker in the race for the Big XII North.

Is this a must win for Bill Callahan?

My take: No...but it's awfully close.

First, why not: With a loss, Nebraska will be 6-4 which would still be bowl eligible, even if they were to lose out. It's tough to fire a coach who made it to a bowl game (not that it matters to a certain athletic director), and frankly, three years probably isn't enough time to judge a coach. Nebraska certainly doesn't want to hitch a ride on the coaching carousel that sabotaged schools like Kansas State, Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa State in the 80's and 90's.

But here's why it's close: With the sorry state of the Big XII North the last 3 years, there is no excuse for not winning a title. Finishing the regular season at 7-5 most likely does not send a strong message that this program is in a resurgence after an 8-4 season in 2005. If a 75% winning percentage wasn't good enough for the Cornhusker football program in 2003, it's hard to accept these results.

Even if it doesn't result in the immediate firing of Callahan, a loss puts an end to all the goodwill gained from the end of the 2005 season. Already the and FireBillCallahan blog are back in action.

Here's another factor: In the Sagarin computer rankings, Nebraska's loss to Oklahoma State dropped the Huskers to #39. That's 5 spots behind Hawaii, 4 spots in front of Navy, and potentially even more problematic to the leadership in Lincoln, only 10 spots ahead of the Ohio Bobcats, a perennial bottom-feeder in the MAC that hasn't been to a bowl game since 1968. That's a comparison that has to be extremely uncomfortable to anyone who made outrageous statements about "gravitating to mediocrity."

The best way to keep this in check is to win on Saturday. Must win? No. But if they don't win, things are going to get rather hot.


Brandon said...


I agree with you that it's not a must win in the sense that Callahan's job isn't on the line. But I do think that it is probably the biggest game thus far during his tenure as head coach, and here's why:

After every loss this year, the company line has been the same. "Our goals are still intact." As a staff they've, to borrow a phrase, pounded THAT rock all year long. But in doing so Callahan may have painted himself into a corner. Lose to Missouri and lose the North and has the season become a total failure?

In my personal opinion, with the state of the North at present, I think it is, but with the constant pointing to the North crown in times of adversity, I'm not sure casual observers can see it any other way either.

Callahan has essentially boiled the season down to one goal, one game. Now it's here.

It always seems to be sunny in Callahanland, but I have to believe that even he knows that there could be a storm coming after Saturday.

AJ said...

I disagree with Mike.

7-5 in year 3....after you fired a 9-3 coach is not going to sit well.

The problem for you guys is Steve-O will have to throw his golden boy out on his ear to stop the bus coming at both of them eventually. In an age where Ty Willingham and others are tossed for not making progress, it's pretty easy to see that 7-5, in a year when the North sucks, three years after he's hired is NOT making progress.

As a Mizzou fan, I hope the guys gets a lifetime contract. However, I would expect Big Steve will put band-aids on and spit it like only he can. I'd look for Callahan to hit the pavement right about the time USC is running over his team in Lincoln next year.

We'll see...but to me...yes. This is a must win game for him. (And that's not because they play AT Mizzou next year and MU returns 17 of 22 starters, 10 on offense)

Husker Mike said...

Oh, 7-5 is not going to sit well at all. But I think that one of the biggest mistakes many programs make is giving up on a coach too soon.

I also don't think that Steve Pederson will fire Bill Callahan. Steve Pederson's successor (or interim replacement) will fire Bill Callahan. Steve Pederson simply won't have the opportunity to fire Callahan because he will be gone first. Pederson put his job on the line in making the change he made.

AJ said...

Pearlman doesn't have the marbles to take out Pederson. I'm afraid what you see is what you matter how restless the natives get.

Husker Mike said...

Harvey Perlman definitely has Pederson's back, which might mean that to fire Callahan, you might have to fire all three, which would take quite an uprising to oust them all.

Not necessarily impossible, though. Look towards UNO where Belck and Buck resigned in disgrace this summer after their mismanagement was exposed. But it will take much more than 7-5 to start this ball rolling.

jjj112665 said...

Pearlman may not make the decision to fire Steve or keep him. If enough boosters start complaining to the Regents and money quits coming to Lincoln or the sell out streak comes close to ending the regents may TELL pearlman to send him packing. If that happens I would guess that BC would be close behind.