Hot Reads: The Wayback

What were you doing 10 years ago today?

If you were a Nebraska fan with internet tendencies, you were probably reading breaking reports that Bill Callahan would be the next head coach in Lincoln.

Jan. 8, 2004. That’s the day the reports broke. Callahan was officially announced the next day.

There’s less than a complete picture of those days surrounding the hiring freely available online, but here’s a couple of snippets to commemorate(?) the 10-year mark.

Mike Fish of SI.com was skeptical from the start:

You wondered if the beef had gone rancid in Lincoln. Or if maybe Pederson’s prime choice — perhaps a pro coach with deep college roots, like Miami Dolphin head coachDave Wannstedt — didn’t become available as planned. To get rejected by NFL coordinators Al Saunders andMike Zimmer, not to mention Arkansas coach Houston Nutt, has to be an embarrassment to the once mighty Cornhuskers.

And the hiring of Bill Callahan, freshly canned by the Oakland Raiders after a 4-12 season that saw his players turn against him, shouldn’t fire up the faithful. Which makes you wonder if firing Frank Solich after a 9-3 season was such a smart move. In the bigger picture, let’s consider how far and why Nebraska has fallen from college football’s high-rent district.

“I don’t know what the pull is with Callahan. Bill Callahan is out of a job,” one college coach told us. “They kept saying they were going to get a big-name coach. I mean, is Al Saunders a big-name coach? People who are not in the football world would not even recognize the name.”

Here’s a column from Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com, which was a little more open to the idea of Callahan succeeding in Lincoln, but the fun part is this quote from AD Steve Pederson:

“When USC hired Pete, I said, ‘What a great hire, what a fabulous hire!’ … ” Pederson said. “If you have a chance to have an NFL head coach that has such vast football knowledge combined with such unique football knowledge, you take it.”

It’s still a risk, a big risk, for Nebraska. Until Friday, Pederson was perceived the same as Garrett, circa 2001 — so far out over his skis that he was going to take a header Wide World of Sports-style.

Larry Beil of Yahoo! Sports, however, was convinced this was a fiasco from the start:

The makeover of the Nebraska football program took longer than a Joan Rivers facial. After many failed attempts to lure a coach, the Huskers found their man in ex-Raiders coach Bill Callahan.

The Cornhuskers were desperate for a “name” coach, but come on. Callahan proved that he couldn’t handle the pressure or communicate with his players in Oakland. He was an obscure offensive line coach who put on the head coach’s hat when Jon Gruden bolted for Tampa Bay.

Now at Nebraska, fans will be critiquing his choice of breakfast entree before spring practice.

Callahan will implode the same way Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia will come down. After three years of Callahan, folks in Lincoln will be putting up a statue for the legend, Frank Solich.

Callahan got four years, of course, but that’s a pretty prescient prediction. And it all started 10 years ago today.

Wrapping Up

If there’s one thing you need to read from Monday’s national title game it’s this story from George Schroeder of USA Today. He spent the days leading up to the game, and the game itself, trailing Gus Malzahn and Auburn. It resulted in a lot of details you won’t get anywhere else.

Stuff like this short scene from the sidelines when Auburn was leading:

When Auburn jumped to a 21-3 lead, Bo Jackson, who watched the game from the sidelines, ran to quarterback Nick Marshall and mimed as though feeding himself, over and over, with a spoon: “See what I’m telling you! See what I’m telling you!” the former star said. Junior tight end Brandon Fulse screamed: “We’re exposing ’em! We’re taking their makeup off!” Yet, for all the intensity of the sidelines, the locker room at halftime was calm. Leading 21-10, the Tigers appeared confident but determined.

The story is full of moments like that. I highly recommend it.

And, should you be up for another story on that game, this one from Spencer Hall of SB Nation is also excellent.

The Grab Bag

Early odds have the Huskers at 50/1 to make the College Football Playoff in 2014. … Dan Hoppen of HuskerOnline.com breaks down the pros and cons for Ameer Abdullah going pro. … Interesting read from a “Bill O’Brien confidant” on his last few days at Penn State. …   Meanwhile, Vanderbilt coach James Franklin is reportedly PSU’s top choice to replace O’Brien. … A billionaire Texas booster calls the hire of Charlie Strong a “kick in the face.” … Michigan State DC Pat Narduzzi is in the mix for the job at Louisville, but he might have to beat out Bobby Petrino. … And, finally, I summarized some quick thoughts on ESPN’s coaches broadcast of the title game over here.