Yesterday, Bill Callahan pops up in a national story, likely against his wishes. Since getting fired by Tom Osborne in 2007, Callahan took the buyout Steve Pederson prepared for him and retreated to NFL filmrooms. He did quite well as the Jets offensive line coach, turning D’Brickashaw Ferguson from a bust into a three-time Pro Bowler and resurrecting the Jets’ running game. He even helped Matt Slauson, a former Nebraska protege, become a good NFL player. But in five years, he offered only a small congratulatory comment to Osborne upon the latter’s retirement and made no other statements about his time at Nebraska.
I don’t think that most Nebraskan want to hear from Callahan. Callahan hasn’t hurt Nebraska football long-term; instead of winning just enough to keep his job (ALA Tommy Bowden or even worse Ralph Fridgen), Callahan graciously failed quickly and got out of town. In fact, he left Bo Pelini better players than he got from Frank Solich.
But now, there is an intruing story involving Bill Callahan magically changing a game plan on the Raiders the Friday before the Super Bowl in a “sabotage” attempt, according to Tim Brown. My Husker reaction: who cares. We here in Nebraska already knew that Bill Callahan wasn’t a great coach. The two people who hired him to be a head coach were Al Davis and Pederson, both of whom are known to hire yes-man coaches who they can feel free to meddle with. (It won’t be a surprise if, at this time next year, Jerry Jones taps Callahan to replace Jason Garrett.) If anything, Callahan changing his game plan two days before a game is inconsistent with his stick-to-the-playcalling-sheet-at-all-costs nature.
But one thing in the story that does seem to be consistent with Callahan’s nature was that Barrett Robbins snapped under the weight of information that Bill Callahan was giving him. Whether it was because Callahan changed the game plan or not, Nebraska fans can always remember the Huskers’ offensive players looking like they were stuck in concrete with all the routes and checks they had to run. Given how much information a center has to handle anyway, one could see how Robbins could easily become overloaded with the over-prepared Callahan as his head coach.
“Sabotage” was thrown around Nebraska numerous times during 2007, and certainly Callahan didn’t fight as hard as he could have to keep his job, if it’s true that he refused Kevin Cosgrove’s resignation. There’s the image of him without his headset on after the loss to Missouri, showing up to press conferences in business shirts as opposed to Husker gear after Pederson’s firing. I don’t think he quit so much as he didn’t mind going back to being an NFL assistant as much as coaches who are willing to adapt and change.
So, here it is, the lowly Bill Callahan sighting. I don’t bring up to mock him, just because he so rarely pops up on the radar. It may another five years until another good story about him comes out.