Monday, October 15, 2007

Huskers fire Athletic Director

The University of Nebraska, after the Football game debacle on homecoming, has fired athletic director Steve Pederson. Some are wondering if head coach Bill Callahan and the coaching staff will be out at the end of the season as well. Stewart Mandel over at cnnsi.com had this write up as well.

I think the defensive coordinator is gone (as well he should be). I am not sure if Callahan will be canned. He might be, but some booster is going to have to pony up the money to payoff Callahan's five year contract he just signed earlier in the year. He might very well be gone, but I think they will give him another year to right the ship.

Former Coach Frank Solich had to do that and went 9-3 his last season. And he got canned anyway. I always liked Frank Solich and really thought he got the short end of the stick on that deal. He wasn't the best coach in the world, but he had a career winning percentage well over .600. I mean the man had the foresight to bring in Bo Pelini as defensive coordinator. I think Solich's major problem was that he had the misfortune to follow the beloved Tom Osborne as head coach. Nobody could possibly have lived up to those expectations.

I have to admit, I think Callahan thus far has largely been a disaster. I may be biased, as I think the West Coast offense is about as interesting to watch as paint drying. It might work for the NFL, but I think its just too complicated and gimmicky for college ball, especially at a place like Nebraska which lived and died by the power option back in the day. People justified Callahan scrapping the run machine of the Huskers as an outdated offensive scheme. While I agree that I wouldn't personally run an offense were the option was a staple play. There may be some truth in that, as last year, Florida won the national championship with a spread option.

But, that is all water under the bridge now. Solich is out getting DUI's as the University of Ohio's head coach. Pederson is gone now. I say good riddance to him. He was too dictatorial and moody to be a good AD. I have friends in various collegiate coaching jobs who said no self respecting coach would dream of applying at Nebraska as long as Pederson was there.

However, I will play devil's advocate. In Pederson's defense, I think his head won't solve Nebraska's immediate image problem if Callahan is fired. Nebraska has largely become a coaching hornet's nest. People want to win, and 9-3 seasons are historically not good enough. Talk is being made that Osborne will be an interim AD. I don't know if that's a good idea. I don't know too many coaches would be apply with Osborne looking over their shoulder.

Combined with the fact that the fans largely want to win and win immediately, I don't know if firing Callahan will solve any long term problems. Does anyone think that this program as it now stands, even without Pederson, is going to attract any coaches who are going to do any better that Callahan. As I see it, only coaches will destructively huge egos or NFL/Collegiate has-beens who need a job will apply.

I have always said that head coaches need to have at least five years before they are terminated. Callahan is still playing with some seniors that Solich recruited. Only on the fifth year will a head coach have a program with all starters being people he himself recruited. (There might be a 5th year senior here or there, but that's an anomaly.) I think if Callahan is willing to clean out the deadwood on staff, he should get a 5th year to prove his stuff. Callahan did have a few descent years. With a major change in offensive philosophy, Callahan deserves to have at least one chance to run his offense with players recruited specifically for the West Coast offense.

That having been said, if Callahan's days are shortly numbered, I think Nebraska did do itself a favor by firing Pederson first. Without him, recruiting a higher quality coach is now possible. Whether the overall situation without Pederson is able to lure a better quality coach remains to be seen.

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