THE FLIP SIDE… Nebraska

It’s been an interesting season for Sean Callahan at Huskers Illustrated. Nebraska’s stunning fall from grace has been bad enough, but the Bill Callahan saga has been, at times, surreal and sad.

Anyway, here’s his take on what has gone awry in Lincoln:

Heading into the 2007 season, I, like many other people
were very optimistic that Bill Callahan’s program at Nebraska was off and
running. 

Nebraska won their first Big 12 North title since 1999,
they played in their first January bowl game since 2001 and it appeared all the
parts were in place for a nine or 10 win season in 2007. So what went wrong? 

Well, I guess the biggest thing I see is Nebraska lacks
leadership through adversity. Last season, guys like Zac Taylor and Adam
Carriker were the glue that kept things together.  This year, Callahan doesn’t
have those “glue guys.” The USC loss really shattered the ego of this football
team and I feel it’s led to the spiral effect to where things are at right now. 

I also think Nebraska might have relied too much on JUCO
talent on the defensive side of the football, and that has led to  a lack of
development at key positions like defensive line and linebacker — areas where NU
really struggles at this season. A wise old K-State fan once told me that
recruiting JUCO’s is like getting on a drug – once you start using it, it’s hard
to get off it. Callahan was starting  to phase out of recruiting JUCO players,
but the lack of development and damage was already done. 

Covering Nebraska football right now is as unique of a
time as I can ever remember. Every day there are rumors flying around about
potential press conferences that Callahan and defensive coordinator Kevin
Cosgrove plan to resign. My favorite rumor I heard was Callahan and Cosgrove
were stepping down, and Charlie McBride and several of the other retired NU
coaches were going to step in and coach the team for the remainder of the
season. 

Every Tuesday, Callahan has his regular press conference
and it’s almost gotten to the point where everybody knows what’s going to happen
and people are backing down from the tough questions. Two things have now been
established throughout this whole process — Callahan will not resign and Osborne
won’t make a decision until after the Colorado game.

I’ll give Callahan credit, people have tried to get him
fired up by asking him tough questions, but he continues to keep his cool. The
last thing he needs is a major meltdown, which in the football world is called
“committing coaching suicide” when you are on the way out.   

However, I will say this, I think Callahan has done some
really good things at Nebraska, but obviously the only thing that matters are
wins and losses.  I do feel that whoever takes over this job will have a team
with enough talent where NU should still be very competitive if coached
properly.  Next season Nebraska has eight home games, including five in a row to
start the season.  Their only road games are at KSU, ISU, OU and Texas Tech.