Friday, November 30, 2007 Pelini Will Be Next Husker Football Coach

Well, apparantly has gotten over their schizophrenia, and is now reporting that Bo Pelini will be named the next Husker football coach sometime after the SEC championship game. The Sporting News is also reporting it. Tom Osborne isn't saying anything, other than an announcement is "two or three days away" (hmmm... that would be Sunday or Monday, correct? And that would give with the reports...).

If it's true, I'm fine with it. Pelini has been my number one choice. He was my number one choice four years ago. In fact, I privately told someone in January 2004 that we hadn't heard the last of Bo Pelini at the University of Nebraska. At that time, I knew that it was going to be nearly impossible for any coach, let alone Bill Callahan, to live up to the standards that Steve Pederson set on December 1, 2003. And as it turns out, Bill Callahan couldn't even match the results of the guy Steve Pederson fired.

So if it's Bo, what does that mean? Well, focus first goes to who Pelini hires as his assistants. That will make or break him. I'm sure there will be some familiar names, such as Marvin Sanders. Not all of these guys have to have a link to the Nebraska program, though. Ties to the program are less important than the quality of these coaches. And when I say quality, I mean that Nebraska needs to have a well-rounded coaching staff. Four years ago, Nebraska went out there and hired the best recruiters available. What did we get? Highly rated recruiting classes, but poor performing teams that never were developed.

Well rounded means that you need to be able to recruit a little, scheme a little, motivate a little, teach a little. Some guys may be better at one thing than another, that's ok. But overall, Nebraska needs to ensure that overall, this coaching staff does everything well: recruiting, teaching, game-planning, and motivating. It doesn't do Nebraska any good to dismiss any of these areas, as it will bite the Huskers eventually. It nailed Bill Callahan's coffin this year.

I do have some reservations about Pelini. He's not the most polished. He may say or do something to get himself into trouble. That's why it's important to have Pelini surrounded by a great support staff to help prevent it.

So why do I like Pelini? Simple. I simply believe the ceiling for Bo Pelini is higher than any other coach on the list. He's a master motivator, and a great technician. He relates to players better than any other coach I've seen. Of all the coaches that Nebraska has been considering, Pelini has the biggest upside of any of them.

It's a risk. He also has the biggest downside. There is no guarantee that this will work out. We might be sitting here in three or four years wondering how anybody could have thought Bo Pelini would have been a good head coach. Or we might also be wondering why so many schools passed before on Pelini.

It's a gamble to be sure. But the next few years are going to be VERY interesting, and if Bo Pelini is indeed the next head coach, I'm more excited about the future of Nebraska football than I've been in four years.

Pitt Rehires Steve Pederson; Beano Cook Rejoices

Well, I'll be...

When I first heard the news that Pitt had rehired Steve Pederson today, I could only laugh. I mean, after the way he mismanaged the Husker athletic department ever since he was hired, I felt that Steve Pederson would never work again at an athletic director at a major institution.

I was wrong. Maybe he'll take his "management consultant" along with him, and maybe the folks at Pitt will find it productive.

Pederson had a shot back at his critics in Nebraska:
"I think managerial style depends on how many games your teams win."
Touche, Steve. You lasted nearly five years at Nebraska without addressing any criticism. You always changed the subject or dismissed the source of the criticism. (In some cases, the dismissal was an actual dismissal...see Gary Sharp, John Bishop, or Kevin Kugler...) I especially liked the time when you called a critic at a booster luncheon an "Oklahoma fan". It looks like Steve Pederson hasn't learned anything from his experience at Nebraska.

I had to chuckle at the response from Beano Cook:
"Christmas came early for the Panther faithful today. Steve Pederson saved Pitt athletics the first time he was here. Now, like Grover Cleveland, he returns to the office where he belongs. All Pitt fans should thank Santa Claus -- and Mark Nordenberg -- for this early gift." can I top Beano?

More from Pittsburgh:

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 Pelini Out Of Contention...Or One of Two Finalists

Your "Worldwide Leader in Sports", has some conflicting reports on the state of the Nebraska coaching search. Sayeth "Rumor Central": Turner Gill is the leading candidate; Jim Grobe thinks he has a good shot; Bo Pelini "didn't knock Tom Osborne's socks off". Sayeth Pat Forde: Nebraska has narrowed it's search down to two candidates: Gill and Pelini.

In other words...nobody knows anything at this point. Osborne himself told KLIN radio today that this is probably going to last another week or so.

Meanwhile, via the Journal-Star "Life in the Red" staff blog, here are some thoughts from the Islands on the Cornhusker football situation. (If anything, it's good for a few laughs...)

But these good people of the Midwest (they like to call it "the Heartland," as in, "Heartland Values," which is a lot like the "Aloha Spirit," only more Republican) know how to find their rays of light. But this time called for desperate measures. They turned to the ultimate secret of happiness. You know what I'm talking about. You know the ultimate secret of happiness.

They fired their athletic director and then their head coach.

(It was really low class to see those "Fire Herman Frazier" signs at Aloha Stadium. Although the people of Nebraska seemed to really, really, really enjoy the experience.)

Still, UH fans, take note: Although firing one's athletic director can be extremely gratifying, it often doesn't actually do much. Even with the great and powerful Oz giving pep talks to the boys, the Huskers kept losing. They gave up 76 points to Kansas.

Here's how bad it is: The radio play-by-play man quit.

We've grown used to being the target of smack from Denver, Kansas City, and Dallas. But Honolulu?!?!?!? Wow. Way to go, Steve. Way to go.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Nebraska Coaching Search Slows Down

When people were contemplating the potential coaching search before Thanksgiving, the consensus opinion was that this would go much faster than the previous football coaching search. (How could it not?) Several former players expected that it would be over within a couple of weeks. Yesterday, it was moving at lightning speed with rumors that a selection was imminent. (One report even said it was already over.) But Tom Osborne returned yesterday saying the search was not over and that nobody had been offered the job.

Today at the players meeting (that was rumored to be to announce the next coach), Osborne did make an announcement that he was going out recruiting himself Thursday and Friday. Obviously, this means that the coaching search will likely not be completed this week. Not a huge surprise, what with Bo Pelini and rumored candidate Paul Johnson of Navy having big games to focus on this Saturday. The search has probably gone as far as it can this week.

I have mixed feelings about Osborne going out to visit recruits. On one hand, it's a good idea to confirm and reinforce Nebraska's commitment to these players. No doubt other schools are contacting these players and trying to take advantage of the uncertainty at Nebraska.

But on the other hand, it makes you wonder if Osborne isn't secretly looking to jump back into the coaching game. There were reports in the late 1990's that when Osborne was consulting with the University of Houston over their football program, Osborne ended up seriously considering taking the head coaching job there. Last month, Osborne joked that if he tried to coach again, his wife Nancy would shoot him. And while I'm sure that Osborne knows that at age 70, his coaching days are behind him, Osborne's jumping back in the saddle might be a little disconcerting to the coaches on his short list.

That being said, Osborne talking to recruits and their families might be a great idea at this time to help solidify a situation that has to be disconcerting to high school athletes confused by what is going on at Nebraska. Hopefully Osborne remembers how Bob Devaney let him run the football program, and plans to treat the next coach similarly.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Handicapping the Nebraska Football Candidates

Well, the Husker coaching search is progressing at warp speed (or at least it seems that way compared to the last bungled search). Tom Osborne and Harvey Perlman arrived back in Lincoln this evening after spending the last couple of days interviewing candidates. So far, it appears that Bo Pelini, Turner Gill, and Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe have been interviewed. Tom Dienhart of The Sporting News indicates that Navy's Paul Johnson and Cincinnati's Brian Kelly are not on Nebraska's list. Dienhart indicates that there may be one more candidate that has been interviewed, though it's not clear who it might be. It doesn't appear to be Boise State's Chris Petersen either, with almost no buzz about any other other names suggested by the Lincoln Journal-Star or Omaha World-Herald.

Here are my thoughts on candidates, in order from least to most likely.

Paul Johnson, Navy
Probably the most intriguing name on the list. He's won everywhere from Navy to Hawaii to Georgia Southern. He's smart enough to adapt his offensive style to the players he has, whether it's a spread over on the Islands or the triple option at Navy. Hasn't coached at a "BCS" school though.

Jim Grobe, Wake Forest
He inherited a winless Ohio Bobcat team and left with a .500 record going 8-3 in 1997. Then he took over Wake Forest and led them to an ACC championship and an Orange Bowl berth last season. In other words, he's been a winner everywhere and like Johnson, people think he'd be a perfect fit at Nebraska. Me, I'm a little more skeptical. I remember Wake's trip to Nebraska in 2005 when he abandoned a productive ground game at halftime to try an ill-suited passing game. And while 8-3 is great at Ohio, it was surpassed last season by Frank Solich who some felt wasn't good enough for the Husker job.

Turner Gill, Buffalo
Nebraska's adopted favorite son occupies a special place in Husker fans hearts. He's taken over a hapless University of Buffalo team and led them to a second place finish in the MAC east in just his second season. But, that's just his second season as a head coach. I can see him as the Husker head coach someday. I'm just not so sure it's in 2008.

Bo Pelini, LSU
He's the candidate with the biggest upside. A master motivator who finds a way to connect with players, you have to wonder why he's not already a head coach. Simply put, Pelini connects with players...but not necessarily college administrators. He's rough around the edges; remember his post-game comment to Bill Snyder? He's also from the Youngstown, Ohio area that produced Bob Stoops and Mark Mangino, the two top coaches in the Big XII today. Husker fans already know how the defense played for him, and he would have been a popular hire in 2004 if he had been given a serious interview. And with the putrid results from the defense this season, no wonder many fans have gravitated towards him. Some fans have questioned how well he can recruit, but my response is simply to ask, how has the over-emphasis on recruiting gone for Nebraska the last few years? Seriously, just because Pelini hasn't been asked to do much recruiting doesn't mean he can't do it... it just means that Pelini is going to need some good recruiters working for him. Can Pelini close the deal with recruits? Well, judging from how players react to Pelini, I wouldn't dare bet against Bo.

This coaching search is proceeding quickly, and KPTM-TV in Omaha is reporting that players have been invited to a meeting tomorrow to announce the new head coach. Tim Cassidy, the Huskers director of football operations told The Lincoln Journal-Star that this meeting is a post-season meeting to wrap up the season. Which is it? Both might turn out to be correct; this meeting might not currently have a new coach on the agenda, but a lot can happen in a few hours.

Week 13 Power Poll

I started to do this week's Power Poll...then stopped. How the heck do I rank Missouri #1? That simply can't be. Is Missouri really the best team in the country? Then I stopped to look at it another way. Who is better than Missouri? Until last week, I thought LSU was. Then they somehow found a way to lose to Houston Nutt at home. And right now? Well, I can't come up with anybody better than Missouri, so #1 they are.

1. Missouri (Sagarin says they are 1-1 against the Top 10 and played the toughest schedule of any of the 1 loss teams. Loss against Oklahoma is the best loss out there.)
2. West Virginia (Seriously stomped UConn...)
3. LSU
4. Oklahoma (When Sam Bradford healthy, they can make their case for best in the country...)
5. Kansas
6. Georgia
7. Ohio State (Please keep these pretenders out of the BCS title game!)
8. Virginia Tech
9. Southern Cal
10. Florida

Big XII Standings
1. Missouri
2. Oklahoma
3. Kansas
4. Texas Tech (huge gap between Kansas and Tech)
5. Oklahoma State
6. Texas A&M
7. Texas
8. Iowa State
9. Colorado
10. Nebraska
11. Kansas State
12. Baylor

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Subtle Reminder of Why Husker Fans Need to Donate

In revamping to remove the link to, the designers forgot to update the "Donate" link, which still has the top of Bill Callahan's head on it.

A subtle message to Nebraska fans to help pay off Callahan's $3.1 million buyout perhaps?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Tom Osborne Did What Needed to Be Done

Some initial thoughts about Tom Osborne's press conference after dismissing Bill Callahan this morning.
  • I believe Osborne struggled with this decision until yesterday. The coaches asked for benchmarks after the Texas A&M game, and he told them that they likely needed to win 7 or 8 games. Six wins might be okay if the losses were close, though the die may have been cast after Kansas hung 76 on the defense for the sixth loss.
  • Osborne revealed that he was told after winning the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl in his fourth season that a regent informed him that if he hadn't won, he would have been fired.
  • He said that Bill Callahan worked hard and recruited well, but there was "something not right" with the program.
  • The meeting between Osborne and Callahan only lasted 10 minutes because Bill Callahan didn't want to continue the meeting.
  • All of the assistants remain on contract and will be paid at least through January 2009. They've been asked to help with recruiting while a new head coach is selected. The next head coach may or may not choose to retain any assistants.
  • Osborne said that the head coach was in charge of the whole program. He wouldn't tell the head coach who the assistant coaches should be or should not be. With that philosophy, Bill Callahan was ultimately responsible for the horrendous performance of the Nebraska defense.
  • Osborne called in a third party a few weeks ago to begin identifying possible candidates for the head coaching job in case he needed to make a change, but said that he stayed completely outside that process. He did not that effort to conflict with or influence his decision. The Lincoln Journal-Star reports that Bo Pelini has been contacted by this firm.
  • No guarantees as to how long this process will go, but Osborne expects to act quickly. I believe that this search process will likely be completed next week. (After the SEC Championship game to be precise.)
My first take is that this coaching change will be far less contentious than the last one, and I think Husker fans will end up being far more united when this completes than after the last one.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The End of an Error: Nebraska Surrenders To The Rest of the Big XII

On Thanksgiving Weekend four years ago, Steve Pederson stood in front of a statewide television audience and announced that he was ending the 42 year Devaney-Osborne-Solich era, claiming that Nebraska would not surrender the Big XII conference. Since that fateful day, Steve Pederson bungled his way through a coaching search filled with names that have since been fired or are in serious danger of being fired (or both!): Al Saunders (out as the KC Chiefs offensive coordinator and now in trouble with the Redskins), Dave Wannstedt (fired from Dolphins, and struggling at Pitt), Houston Nutt (reportedly coaching his final game at Arkansas today), and reportedly Chuck Amato (fired by North Carolina State). Oh yes, and Bill Callahan, fired by the Oakland Raiders.

Today, Nebraska took the field wearing the "Surrender White" uniform (white jersey with white pants) from the 1991 Citrus Bowl and the 2002 7-7 season. And promptly surrendered to one of the worst teams in the Big XII, the Colorado Buffaloes. Colorado only beat one Big XII North team this season: Nebraska.

Today's 65-51 football loss (yes, that's not a basketball score) finalized the second losing season for the Huskers since 1962. In Bill Callahan's four seasons at Nebraska, Nebraska has gone 5-6, 8-4, 9-5, and now 5-7. Today's game featured yet more "WTF" play-calling from Bill Callahan, as Nebraska goes into a cold and snowy Boulder and plays aerial circus with a leaky defense. Just like at Kansas, Nebraska abandoned the running game, and put the game on the shoulders of Joe Ganz. And after Ganz was injured at the end of the first half, that game plan spelled disaster for the Huskers as Ganz was erratic the rest of the game, getting picked off three times down the stretch and misfiring badly at other times. Oh yes, the CozBohl "Bend and Break" defense was successful in holding Colorado (10th worst offense in the Big XII) under 525 yards and 70 points.

Now Husker fans wait for tomorrow's meeting between Bill Callahan and athletic director Tom Osborne, widely assuming that Osborne will be dismissing Callahan. As I said yesterday at CornNation, while the meeting is tomorrow, I don't expect the dismissal to occur until Monday. Osborne won't steal attention away from tomorrow's Nebraska-Creighton basketball game in Omaha and won't make the same mistakes that Pederson made four years ago. When he acts, the players will be informed before the media is called in. (Not that the rumor mill might take hold before then...)

Enough has been said about Bill Callahan and Kevin Cosgrove at this point that it shouldn't be necessary to discuss them further. Hopefully we won't hear anything more about threating phone calls or any other stupidness. I don't believe that these coaches intended to have things work out this way, and the families of these coaches are going to be uprooted as they move on to other jobs. There's no need to make this any rougher than it already is.

It didn't work out. Let's all agree on that, leave it at that, and move on.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Husker Football Through the Eyes of a 5 Year Old

Let's be honest...this Husker football season has been a huge disappointment. Fans started out the season thinking of a return trip to the Big XII Championship game and possibly a BCS bowl game. The team even had loftier goals, chanting "National Championship" at the end of preseason practices.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving Day, and Nebraska plays Colorado tomorrow for a chance at a bowl game...namely the Independence Bowl in Shreveport. Lose tomorrow, and Nebraska has just it's second losing season in 45 years. Saturday, Dr. Tom Osborne will sit down with Bill Callahan and his staff and discuss the future of Nebraska football. Some folks expect that meeting to result in a dismissal of much of this coaching staff.

As the disappointment level rose as the season spiraled downward, interest in Husker football dropped as well. Fans were willing to pay hundreds of dollars for tickets to the USC game, but a few thousand fans walked out in the first half of a beatdown by Oklahoma State a week later. Tickets became plentiful on the open market. I had a couple of extra tickets sold in September for the Kansas State game, but when game week arrived, the purchasers backed out on the deal. I put the tickets up for sale again, but only received one response: "I'll take those tickets off your hand if you'll pay me $50!" Heck, earlier this week I received four more tickets to the Kansas State game (plus two parking passes!).

So the night before the game, I asked my brother-in-law, who usually joins me at the games if he wanted to bring his son to the game. He hesitated because he wondered if he was still too young, but I pointed out that nobody else wants these tickets, so unless he felt that his son was going to be too much of a distraction, he might as well go.

So sure enough, off to Lincoln we go. His eyes grew wide when he saw the stadium and all the people. Everything was a new experience: the marching band, the huge HuskerVision screen, using the binoculars to see if he could see Grandma and Grandpa in their seats in the North end zone. So much to experience, he was one of the few fans in red in the stadium that didn't care that Kansas State jumped to a 10-7 lead with a couple of long drives in the first quarter against Cosgrove's defense.

But then Nebraska's little good luck charm too effect as the Huskers erupted to a 38-10 halftime lead. Dad would tell his son to cheer louder for the defense and hopefully they'd make a play, and suddenly they did. We ridiculed Ron Prince's decision to go for it on 4th and 24 from midfield with 30 seconds left in the first half, and cheered loudly when Joe Ganz and Todd Peterson made him pay for it with a couple of long passes to score a late touchdown. People around us told that if the Huskers were going to play like that with him there, we needed to bring him more often.

At halftime, we had to find him cheese pizza for lunch, and he smiled at a vendor and got a free bottle of water. In the fourth quarter, Herbie Husker came up to our section and posed for a picture with dad and son. (Hopefully the guy who took the picture for us will e-mail it to us soon!) On the drive back from the game, he finally fell asleep exhausted from his big day, but the rest of the weekend, it was all he could talk about.

I don't know what will happen tomorrow, and I'm not positive what is going to happen after that. It's likely not going to be a positive time for Nebraska fans as we encounter another off-season of uncertainty. We're going to be constantly reminded of getting smoked game after game, questions about whether we were too easy or too rough on Bill Callahan and his coaching staff. People are going to throw things back into our face about Steve Pederson's claims about Husker fans being the "Greatest Fans in College Football".

In a season like this, you forget why you are a fan of Nebraska football. Long time fans remember 60-3 records, playing in five national championship games in eight years, and struggle with the idea of the Huskers being 5-6 and getting beaten soundly in most of those losses. But those same struggles on the field presented an opportunity for a five-year old to attend his first Husker game and remind me of why I'm still a Husker fan.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Week 12 Power Poll: Whoda Thunk It?

As more teams fall by the wayside, the improbable becomes more and more plausible.

1. LSU
2. Missouri (Did I just write that?)
3. Kansas (Wait a minute... #2 Missouri vs. #3 Kansas ??? ESPN Gameday and ABC's primetime game? Next thing you know, you'll tell me that Nebraska has a losing record! Oh...yeah...right...)
4. West Virginia
5. Oklahoma
6. Georgia
7. Oregon
8. Arizona State
9. Ohio State
10. Virginia Tech

Big XII Standings
1. Missouri
2. Kansas
3. Oklahoma
4. Texas
5. Oklahoma State
6. Texas Tech
7. Texas A&M
8. Nebraska
9. Iowa State
10. Kansas State
11. Colorado
12. Baylor

Say it very slowly. Missouri vs. Kansas for the Big XII North. Winner goes to San Antonio with a chance to play for a BCS National Championship. Missouri and Kansas. BCS National Championship. Missouri. Kansas. BCS National Championship.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Revisionist Thinking on Bill Callahan

Well, it took a few days, but an attempt to rethink the expected coaching change at Nebraska finally emerged. Steve over at BigRedNetwork asks whether Husker fans really want to "toss out an offense that’s producing the most points we’ve seen since Tom Osborne was the head man?" Or more simply, is the Bill Callahan offense finally ready to explode? Shouldn't we wait and see what Joe Ganz can do in a full season as the starter?

It's an interesting idea, but we've heard these arguments before. After running up the score on Kansas State, it's true that the offensive numbers have improved. So why not giving Bill Callahan another chance?

For starters, while Joe Ganz has looked good in his two starts, the Huskers have serious questions to answer on offense in 2008. Quarterback looks promising with a now experienced Joe Ganz and an intriguing Patrick Witt. (And let's not close the door on Zac Lee either...) Running back looks to be solid with Roy Helu and Quentin Castille having another year of experience. Marlon Lucky, despite his shortcomings at I-back, could flourish if used more as an all-purpose back to showcase his talents in the passing game as well as on kick returns. But who else will catch passes in 2008? Maurice Purify, Sean Hill, Terrence Nunn, Todd Peterson, Frantz Hardy, and Dan Erickson are all seniors. Here are the returning receivers: Nate Swift, Menelik Holt (2 career catches), Chris Brooks (1 career catch), Niles Paul (1 career catch). Sense an issue here? Lack of experience at receiver is going to present an issue in 2008, and when combined with the steep learning curve in this offense, would serve to temper expectations for 2008.

Looking at Joe Ganz, he looks to be the type of player that could adapt to many systems. He ran several option plays against Kansas. He threw for 500 yards last weekend. While Bill Callahan can certainly take some pride in the development of Ganz, Ganz appears to be a more than capable quarterback.

Finally, four years ago we were told that a change in the direction of the program was needed. Nebraska fired a 75% (career and final season both) winning percentage coach, and replaced him with a coach that has lost 6, 4, 5, and 6 (and counting) games each year. Recruiting services generally like the incoming players, but few young players see playing time. Questions about talent development have become huge issues. This roster has question marks for next season at wide receiver and linebacker. Even the commitment by the head coach towards the program can be questioned, as he no longer wears Husker apparel except when required by contract to.

73 points and 702 yards are great numbers, but it was just one game in a season filled with sub-par performances in all aspects of the game. Husker fans should be pleased for the players who had a big game, but sadly enough, the burden of evidence is already clear as to where this program is headed.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Save Rosenblatt's Alternative: Too Little Accomplished for Too Much Money

As I called it two months ago, the Save Rosenblatt committee has completed their study of Rosenblatt Stadium, and sure enough, come back with an alternative that costs a lot of money yet still doesn't meet the demands of the NCAA. They point out their proposal only will cost $60-$65 million, as compared to the $95-$115 million new downtown ballpark proposal. Which is true. They also address some of the NCAA's demands:
  • Wider Concourses
  • Additional Parking
  • A Clean Zone surrounding the ballpark
  • Expanding Rosenblatt's locker rooms
  • Expanded media facilities
  • 2,000 additional seats
But they fail to address several of the NCAA's other demands, which led the NCAA to request a new downtown stadium:
  • Open concourses with a view of the field
  • Additional skyboxes for NCAA corporate sponsors
  • Nearby hotels and restaurants
Most eye-opening is the statement of Save Rosenblatt committee member and city councilman Garry Gernandt:
"The purpose of (the Save Rosenblatt plan) is to keep the CWS here for five years. We've been getting five-year extensions for years, and that has always worked for us."
Let's do some simple math with the figures most advantageous to the Save Rosenblatt committee:
Remodel Rosenblatt: $60 million / 5 years = $12 million a year
New Downtown Ballpark: $115 million / 20 years = $5.75 million a year
Now I'm not an accounting whiz by any means (though I did work on accounting systems about a dozen years ago), but it's not difficult to see that building a new downtown ballpark is the most financially prudent decision.

The NCAA wants a new ballpark. We might be able to band-aid Rosenblatt and get another five years out of it, but then five years down the line, the NCAA will be back to request a new stadium. Give the NCAA what they want now, and we're not discussing this issue again until 2031.

Fail to do so, and we might get five more years before we're spending that $115 million on top of the $60 million we just spent (except now that inflation has made that $150 million). Or worse, the College World Series goes on a rotation between Indianpolis, Orlando, and Omaha.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Callahan Takes Credit for Ganz to Jumpstart Job Search

Many Husker fans were rubbed the wrong way by Bill Callahan's comments about Joe Ganz' performance on Saturday:
"He's a product of the system," Callahan said of Ganz. "This is a player that we've developed and you could see his development ooze all over the field on Saturday."
He went on to brag about the offense's performance, taking aim at criticism that his offense is too complex for college:
"Everybody’s very critical of myself about how our offense is too complicated, and it’s too pro-like, and it’s this and it’s that," Callahan said. "But the fact remains, the numbers don’t lie. And the performance of these players doesn’t lie. It’s there. It’s all out there ... Somewhere in there, there’s coaching, there’s development, there’s system. There’s some real positive things that aren’t being brought out."
Callahan pointed out that Nebraska is 12th in the country in passing offense and 18th in total offense. What he failed to point out is that Nebraska's offense is currently only 36th in scoring offense (8th in the Big XII) after the Scoring Extrava-GANZ-a the last two weeks; before Ganz took over, the Huskers were 36th in total offense and 62nd in scoring offense nationally.

Even more upsetting to fans is how Callahan chose to marginalize his starting quarterback, saying he's merely a product of his system, and minimizing the work that Ganz put in. (Heck, the way I read it, he minimized the efforts of Zac Taylor and Sam Keller as well...)

Is all this fair? When read as absolutes, no. Callahan deserves some credit for the numbers Joe Ganz put up the last two weeks. He's the coach, and he prepared Ganz. But is this outburst appropriate when Ganz' took his offense from downright mediocre to merely okay? Not really.

Let's be honest here. Callahan knows he's going to be fired in two weeks. These comments weren't about Joe Ganz and the Huskers; these comments were to send a message that Callahan isn't a bad offensive coordinator. Here's my resume (look at it now after I ran up the score on Kansas State); will you hire me?

It's certainly not an attempt to justify his return as head coach, as he points out the shortcomings of the defense. As head coach, Bill Callahan is responsible for the whole team, not just the offense. That means he also needs to take ownership of numbers like a 5-6 record, a #105 ranking in scoring defense, and a #112 ranking in total defense. You can't merely explain it away as youth or blame in on Kevin Cosgrove. Callahan chose Cosgrove, knowing well his history of mediocrity at Wisconsin. Callahan chose to focus recruiting on offense, thus leaving the defense undermanned. Bill Callahan is still ultimately responsible for the horrible defense the Huskers have played this season.

Husker fans and players shouldn't take offense at Bill Callahan's comments; we're looking at a man who has already working for his next job. Expect more ugliness as we enter the the final days of Bill Callahan's head coaching career. Bill knows it's over, and is now working to resume his career as an assistant coach, probably as an offensive coordinator as his head coaching days will be in his rear view mirror after failing at Oakland and Nebraska.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Week 11 Power Poll

1. LSU
2. Oklahoma
3. Oregon
4. Missouri
5. Kansas
6. West Virginia
7. Georgia
8. Arizona State
9. Ohio State
10. Virginia Tech

Big XII Standings
1. Oklahoma
2. Missouri
3. Kansas
4. Texas
5. Oklahoma State
6. Texas Tech (Here's where it gets weird... You can make a case for just about everybody else except Baylor to be #6)
7. Texas A&M
8. Nebraska
9. Iowa State (Won 2 in a row...)
10. Kansas State (Losing to Nebraska and Iowa State lands you here...)
11. Colorado (0-4 against the rest of the Big XII North, but 3-0 against South...go figure...)
12. Baylor

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Running Up the Score: Not Cool, Bill

Running up the score has been a charge that's been leveled at Nebraska for years. Sometimes it couldn't be helped, such as when Nebraska put 84 up on Minnesota when third string quarterback Craig Sundberg couldn't be contained by the hapless Gophers in the Metrodome. Other times, it's been a valid charge, such as when Matt Turman threw a touchdown pass late against Arizona State in 1995, or the 2000 Alamo Bowl where Bobby Newcombe threw deep to Matt Davison with the Huskers up huge.

But never was it so flagrant as Saturday when Bill Callahan had Joe Ganz throwing two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, then had Marlon Lucky score the final touchdown with four minutes left in the game to go up 73-24. The starting I-back is still in the game, scoring a touchdown to take a 49 point lead with just a few minutes to play. Three fourth quarter touchdowns scored by starters in a blowout... not cool... And yes, hopefully the final entry in the Bill Callahan "Call of Shame".

Some could argue that this team deserved and needed a big victory... which is true. But the big victory was already attained. Keeping starters took reps away from younger players who certainly could use the playing time. It also exposed those players to potential injury, especially if someone on the defense took particular offense.

Ron Prince didn't take offense at Callahan's stunt, at least not publicly. It's his job to stop it, and the Wildcats were unable to do it yesterday. But just because the Huskers could do it doesn't make it right. It was a middle finger salute to Kansas State as well as his critics. And it leaves a bad taste in the mouth of fans who, while elated to see the Huskers play well for the first time in two months, recognize that what Callahan did was in poor sportsmanship.

Even in victory, Bill Callahan came off as a loser on Saturday.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Where Has this Husker Team Been All Season?

Over and over as today's game unfolded, you heard this question throughout Memorial Stadium. You read it online in various forums. Where did this team come from? Well, the answer is very simple.

It's been here all along.

How can that be, you ask. I watched this team get wiped out on both sides of the ball by USC, Missouri, and Oklahoma State. We watched this team struggle with Ball State and Iowa State. No way was this team there those days, you insist.

But it was there. And if not for two very stubborn men, we would have seen it long before today. Actually, we did see both halves of it the last two weeks, but today it came together.

Up until late in the Texas game, Nebraska's best quarterback had to patiently wait on the sideline for his chance. We watched Nebraska's offense sputter against USC. We watched them trail Ball State. We watched them get blown out three straight weeks against Missouri, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M. Even against Texas, the offense wasn't very effective. Sam Keller came to Nebraska with the big arm, the potential NFL draft pick, and the history of picking apart defenses. We all assumed he was going to be the savior to take Nebraska to the Big XII title game and a big bowl game.

Then the season started. We saw Keller stare down receivers. We saw him misfire repeatedly. We saw him turn the ball over. Yet Bill Callahan stuck with Keller until a shoulder injury forced Keller's season to come to an end. And Nebraska's offense suddenly came to life. Joe Ganz came in cold and led them to a late touchdown. Last week, he led them to 39 points in his very first start. And this week, 73 points.

Now we know who the better quarterback is, at least in this offense. Joe Ganz. The 2-star Rivals recruit who was mostly recruited by MAC schools. Sam Keller might have had the game experience and the big time arm. But Joe Ganz brings many more important things to the game: a solid mastery of this offense, vision to know where receivers such as Maurice Purify are, and a little mobility to buy himself some time and possibly make a play when nothing else is available.

The other factor? Simply put, a much more aggressive defense. Maybe not as aggressive as what Nebraska showed against Texas...but much more aggressive than we've seen most of this season. It wasn't a great performance by the Husker defense, giving up 400+ yards and 31 points. But it was an improved performance by a unit that was setting records for futility. We saw two weeks ago how an aggressive scheme allowed Nebraska to control the game for the first three quarters. Today's game should provide more evidence that CozBohl's "Bend and Break" defense is not suitable for college football.

Some people might look at today's 73-31 victory over Kansas State and ask just how Nebraska could fire Bill Callahan after a huge victory like this. They are missing the point. This team has been there all season long.

Bill Callahan and Kevin Cosgrove just didn't realize where it was. 73 points from Nebraska isn't redemption for Bill Callahan, but rather an indictment of him. As taught by Callahan, it takes years to master it. See Joe Dailey (sub-par in 2004), Zac Taylor (sub-par in 2005), Zac Taylor (Big XII offensive player of the year in 2006), Sam Keller, and now Joe Ganz. With only four years of eligibility, quarterbacks do not have the luxury of spending years to master Callahan's system. The fact that the quarterback switch was forced by injury, and not by recognition by Callahan of the offense's problems only magnifies the problem.

It's simply more damning evidence that Bill Callahan isn't the man to lead the Nebraska football program.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Mavs Sweep Ohio State; Senior Day; Callahan's Agent Throws a Tantrum

UNO's hockey team got a much needed sweep tonight at Ohio State, winning both games convincingly at 5-2. Jerad Kaufman seems to be settling back into the 2005-06 mode that lead this team to the NCAA tournament, all the while showing a much more physical presence on the ice that seemed to be UNO's Achilles heel in recent years. The 0-4 start in conference looked horrible...but when you consider that those games were against #1 Miami and #2 Michigoon... Now with 6th place Ferris State and last place Alaska coming to Omaha the next two weekends, UNO has a chance to make their move in the standings.

Tommorow is Senior Day for Husker football, and one can only wonder what kind of reaction the team will get. In fact, I wonder just how many people will show up. I've seen lots of tickets for sale with almost no interest. (I had someone back out on a couple extras I had earlier this week, and the only offer I got for them was to pay THEM $50 to go...) Only 150 people bothered to show up to this morning's Big Red Breakfast in Omaha, which makes me think that some fans have already given up on the season. Which is too bad, because no matter what you think about this team and this coaching staff, it's still Nebraska football. These players, especially the seniors, deserve a proper sendoff as they won't be finishing their careers the way they envisioned. What makes Nebraska football special is how we treat former players...and everybody that put on the scarlet and cream deserve our thanks. I'll be there cheering for these players.

Last night, KMTV reported that Bill Callahan told the team that he had been asked to resign, and while he refused to resign, he told the team the staff was unlikely to return next season (video). Today, the Lincoln Journal-Star asked players to confirm the KMTV report and was unable to do so, raising a lot of questions about Travis Justice, who broke the story. What's the truth? Well, I firmly believe that SOMEONE has personally approached Bill Callahan and asked him to resign, likely between the time Steve Pederson was fired and Tom Osborne took over. Has he told the team? Hard to say, but it doesn't sound that way. Is he going to resign? Absolutely not. If he hasn't by now, it's not going to happen. Bill Callahan is going to be the head coach of Nebraska for the next 14 days, and fans need to just accept that fact, no matter how painful it is.

Apparently this is starting to take it's toll on people associated with Bill Callahan and his staff. Today's Omaha World-Herald reports on the abuse that the sons of Kevin Cosgrove and Phil Elmassian are enduring at Lincoln Southwest this fall. Shameful? Yep. Even if kids can be cruel, it's not fair to transpose the problems of parents onto their kids. The families of these players are already facing an uncertain future, likely having to move away from their friends as their fathers restart their careers elsewhere. Absolutely no reason to pile onto the families. Absolutely no reason at all.

On the other hand, Callahan's agent, Gary O'Hagan, went into meltdown mode today with the World-Herald, lashing out at Nebraskans over the continued uproar over Callahan's job performance:
"Listen to how stupid you people are. You people need to start studying soil content or something. Why don't you find out how many pair of socks get washed every day in the locker room?"
If this is what we have to look forward to over the next two weeks, this promises to be a most enjoyable leadup to Thanksgiving. Not.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Big 12 RoundTable - The End is Near

This week's Roundtable is hosted by Tejas' own Gabriel's Horn.

1. With only two or three games left, how are you feeling about your season? Disappointed, elated, surprised, a little violated?
Disappointed? Definitely an understatement. Elated? No way. Surprised? Kind of. I expected better, but wasn't completely sure. And I never was sold on Bill Callahan in the first place. A little violated? How about a whole bunch of violated. And do I really have to tell you why?

2. I have to ask, how do you feel about the (possible) buyout of Fran at Texas A&M?

As long as Bill Byrne won't be chasing the same coaching candidates Tom Osborne will be, it's probably not so bad for Nebraska. As for Fran's demise, you can't say you didn't see this one coming...

3. We’ve picked coaches, players, stadiums and everything else from other teams. Now, we get down to something even more near and dear: mascots. If you could pick another Big 12 mascot other than your own - who would it be and why?

We've got cows and buffaloes. We've got lions (well, Wildcats), tigers and bears, oh my. We've got big winds (Cyclones) and imaginary birds (Jayhawks). We've got historical references (Cornhuskers & Sooners). We've got Cowboys and Raiders (Red). But WTF is an Aggie?

I hate to say it, but Ralphie is not only the most intimidating mascot, but he's also unique. (How many Tigers, Cowboys, and Wildcats mascots are there?) And he's probably our ultimate answer to getting rid of 'Lil Red.

4. Unexpected Greatness, Unexpected Suckage. Who surprised you this year? Who did you get really excited about, only to be let down? (The first Roundtable asked who was the face of the franchise - do you still feel that way?)
When a team who was only expected to lose two or three games has already lost six, you're not going to find a lot of unexpected greatness. If I look at people who were better than I thought in the preseason, I'd probably take Zach Potter at defensive end. Unexpected Suckage? Probably Matt Slauson, who started the season on the Outland Trophy watch list and lost his starting spot for a while. Getting excited about only to be let down? Well, Ndamakong Suh probably needs to be on a milk carton as he's practically disappeared. Heck...last week, FSN couldn't even get his number right. And Nebraska's entire linebacker corp has proven to be a huge disappointment.

5. I told you there would be booze. Characterize your team by the beverage of your choice.
We're those little bottles of booze on an airplane. You hand over your money, and you get this little sip (Nevada). Then you spend the rest of the flight (season) realizing you got screwed royally.

Lightning Round - worth double the points (which will still work out to zero…), and twice the fun!

- Love ‘em.

Chase Daniel, Player of the Year.
Kansas Jayhawks. The team full of players that virtually nobody wanted is still undefeated in November.
Cortney Grixby. Best corner at Nebraska, yet most abused by fans. Always kept his head high.
Nate Swift. Not the fastest, Not the flashiest. But the most consistent receiver on the field.
Zach Bowman. Battled through injuries his whole time. We'll never know how good you could have been.

- Diss ‘em.
Steve Pederson, Bill Callahan, and Kevin Cosgrove. Your names will be reviled and the source of jokes and ridicule for years to come.
Marlon Lucky. Could have been a great wingback in the old days. Just not an I-back.

- Pick ‘em.

Colorado @ Iowa State - Iowa State
Texas A&M @ Mizzou - Mizzou
KState @ Nebraska - KState
Texas Tech @ Tejas - Texas finds a way to win again
Baylor @ Oklahoma - Oklahoma
Kansas @ Oklahoma State - Kansas

- Rank ‘em.
1. Oklahoma
2. Missouri
3. Kansas
4. Texas
5. Kansas State
6. Oklahoma State
7. Colorado
8. Texas Tech
9. Texas A&M
10. Iowa State
11. Nebraska
12. Baylor

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Farewell to the Husker Information Minister

I'll be honest here... I'm not particularly sad that Jim Rose is no longer the "Voice of the Huskers". While I respected his knowledge of Husker history and his love for the program, his role as chief apologist for Steve Pederson and Bill Callahan really doomed his career. Hence, the term "Husker Information Minister". Nebraska will go on and find a more qualified announcer for next season. The two leading candidates IMHO would be Greg Sharpe, the former K-State announcer who will finish out this season, and KOZN's Kevin Kugler. Kent Pavelka is also another possibility, though he has plenty of detractors.

But deep down, you do have to feel for a guy who had to give up his dream job. He recognizes that health and family take precedence, and you have to respect that. With that in mind, here's wishing Jim Rose best of luck.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Monday Night Beer: HuskerNation Continues to Suffer

Or are you still drinking something stronger after Saturday's 76-39 blasting?

Matt Hayes of the Sporting News reports that LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini was stunned by the NU-KU score:
A brief conversation between LSU defensive coordinator -- and one-time interim NU coach -- Bo Pelini and I after the Tigers' big win over Alabama:

Me: "Did you see the Nebraska score?"

Bo: "No, I heard it was bad."

Me: "76 points bad."

Bo: Speechless; his jaw looking a lot like my mailbox that won't close.

Checking out some of my fellow bloggers, reactions go from numbness over at BigRedNetwork, acceptance over at CornNation, disinterest from DoubleExtraPoint, and anger from Jason Peter (DoubleNickel). Me, I alternate from any and all of these perspectives. JJ over at CornNation points out that we just have to survive the next 18 days, and then we can put this whole sorry chapter behind us. Perhaps it's time to get a counter going...

Tom Dienhart of the Sporting News throws a couple more names into the pool for the upcoming opening in Lincoln: Wisconsin's Bret Bielema and Kansas State's Ron Prince. Wow... a lot of Husker fans would have to take back a lot of things they've said if Prince were to move up US-77.

The really bizarre thing that has happened in recent days is a rehashing of the whole Solich firing. I guess since about 98% of Husker fans now agree that Bill Callahan needs to be fired, we need something to discuss while we wait for Tom Osborne to act, since discussing football is too painful and basically irrelevent. Here's a news flash for those who choose to dredge this old debate back up: nobody's had anything new to offer in the Solich debate in about three years.

The Lincoln Journal-Star captured an image of Kevin Cosgrove leaving the field in Lawrence as a broken man. I'm starting to get an image of Cosgrove as a man in crisis, which might explain his bizarre comments last week about being afraid to blitz. JJ at CornNation wants Cosgrove and Callahan to finish out the season so that history will fully recognize the level of their failure. And that might be true in a historical sense. But let's be honest; there's no reason to make these players continue to endure this disaster. If this football season were a horse, it would have been euthanized weeks ago.

PowerPoll Time!
1. LSU
2. Ohio State
3. Oklahoma
4. Oregon
5. Missouri
6. Kansas
7. West Virginia
8. UConn
9. Boston College
10. Georgia

Big XII Ratings
1. Oklahoma
2. Missouri
3. Kansas
4. Texas
5. Kansas State
6. Oklahoma State
7. Colorado
8. Texas Tech
9. Texas A&M
10. Iowa State (does anybody believe that Nebraska could beat the Cyclones now?)
11. Nebraska
12. Baylor

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A Mind Numbing Weekend (otherwise known as "Kansas Scored Again")

What more can be said about this Nebraska football season as it spirals into the abyss of Callahan's career. 76-39 pretty much says it all. 76 points? 76 points? Just when you think Kevin Cosgrove can't possibly do a worse job...he proves you wrong again. The only silver lining is that there are only two more games and three more weeks of this.

I've been kicking around an idea about calling for a "White Out" at Memorial Stadium during the home finale to send a message to this coaching staff, but I've backed away from that idea. Let's face it, fans don't really need to send a message to this coaching staff. If they don't already realize that their time in Nebraska is over, no message from Husker fans would get through. In this situation, the best thing is to try and stay supportive of the players, both the ones who should get an improved coaching staff next season as well as the ones playing their final game on Saturday. You've really got to feel for the seniors who will be remembered as being part of the failed Steve Pederson/Bill Callahan error.

So now we wait. A win against Kansas State wouldn't be out of the question if you go strictly by the numbers, but the intangibles make a win really tough this next week. So now the players and fans wait out the season, hope for the best, but still expect the worst. Or in the case of Kevin Cosgrove, cringe at the idea of how much worse things can get.

If the Kansas debacle wasn't bad enough, UNO hockey got swept by Michigan this weekend. UNO fans at least have some optimism as the Mavs took it to the Weasels at times during the weekend, but couldn't close the deal either night. The problem with the Mavs is that starting the season 0-4 really, really hurts in the conference standings. Fans can point to yet another slow start and another roster full of youth (how do we get some balance so that youth isn't always an excuse?), but the fact remains that when you look at the roster and the schedule, starting 0-4 was always a realistic possibility. The good news is that the schedule eases up a bit the next few weeks, with a road trip to 2-6 Ohio State this week followed by home series against 4-3-1 Ferris State then 0-4 Alaska. UNO needs to get some wins, fast.

At least with UNO hockey, I still have hope for this season. The only hope remaining for Husker football is the December coaching search once this nightmare of a season finally ends in Boulder.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Please Make It Stop!

Not sure if anybody yelled "Dead Coach Walking" towards Bill Callahan as he walked out of Kansas Memorial Stadium, but if they had, they wouldn't have been far off from the truth. Today's 76-39 drubbing certainly makes the inevitable all the more clear. I'm sure it's going to be difficult for the families of these coaches who are going to be uprooted as these coaches try to resurrect their careers elsewhere. But today's game was simply more proof that this coaching staff is overmatched at the coaching level.

Example in point: Joe Ganz making his first start since high school. Callahan hands him the ball and has him throw the ball on every down in the second quarter. Absolutely no running game in the 2nd quarter, save for a few scrambles. First start against a top ten opponent, and Callahan goes one-dimensional and puts it completely on the shoulders of a green quarterback. Ganz did pretty well for his first start, but it's completely shameful that his coach put the onus on him. But we've come to expect that of Bill Callahan.

Kansas and Nebraska are simply polar opposites with respect to football. Nebraska has tradition, facilities, history, and more Rivals stars than you can shake a stick at. But Kansas has superb coaching, great preparation, and dedication. And today, they have scoreboard to prove that all that those Rivals stars are meaningless if you don't have great coaching, preparation, and dedication.

I've rated Kansas in the top 10 of my Power Poll most of the season, and I've been ridiculed by some, saying that Kansas was a fraud. Is 9-0 Kansas a fraud? Absolutely not. But today's game was simply more evidence of the fraud that was committed on Nebraska and it's fans by Steve Pederson and Bill Callahan.

Speaking of frauds, if Nebraska's defense is no longer wearing black practice jerseys, why is Kevin Cosgrove wearing a black shirt on the sideline? All of those reasons for revoking the Blackshirts apply to Cosgrove over and over and over again. Cosgrove wearing black on the sidelines is an insult to past Blackshirts who set the standard for Husker defense. Why is the architect of the worst Husker defense in nearly 50 years allowed to wear black?

Those of you who listened to the broadcast probably noticed that Jim Rose was absent from the booth. Last week, he was suffering from a cold, though he was absent from KFAB yesterday as well. Greg Sharpe, former Kansas State Wildcat announcer, was called in on Thursday to replace Rose; however, nobody is mentioning illness as a reason. Is Rose's support of the "Vichy" Nebraska regime coming back to haunt him? Hard to say. Rose has tried to distance himself from Steve Pederson in recent weeks, but it may not be enough to salvage his career as the Voice of the Huskers, as they'll likely want to remove any aura of the last four years as the Husker football program tries to recover from the damage Pederson and Callahan did to this program. Keep in mind, it may just be a bad cold, in which case every Husker fan needs to wish him a speedy recovery.