Why did Bill Callahan fail at Nebraska?

headcard

Nebraska Legend
Feb 2, 2005
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At first he struggled because of the drastic change in offensive identity. Changing from an option based offense to a prostyle offense is a very difficult transition. At the end, he struggled because he wouldn't move on from a poor DC and the players on that side of the ball simply gave up. Callahan's tenure basically mirrored Riley's, except for the fact that Callahan and his staff recruited their balls off.
 

Kleitusbpn

Redshirt Freshman
Apr 27, 2008
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He is a very good if not great oline coach but didn't stay long enough for that to germinate.

Because his defensive coordinator was a joke.

There was a personality conflict with the fans in my opinion but some of that wasn't his fault. I think it has become pretty obvious in the time since then that nebraska fans can be a lot like the crotchety old guy down the street when it comes to their coaches in any sport. They may even be right but they come off as arrogant and self righteous and trust me people notice.

Sure, you can say that's the job anywhere but the football pressure cooker here specifically is nitpicky at the best of times.

So was it on Callahan? Yeah in my opinion. He failed at his job. So did Doc Sadler -- at least as badly in my opinion -- and frankly husker fans pretty much love the guy. So we aren't all bad.

That doesn't make Bill a bad man or anything. Truthfully i think the opposite.. Just a bad fit at a bad time. And it got ugly enough that some people still have a bad taste in their mouth.
 
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HuskerLove1

Redshirt Freshman
Sep 22, 2018
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I've said this numerous times before on this board - if BC would have fired Cosgrove and hired a real DC he could still be coaching at Nebraska and we'd probably have another NC banner hanging-up.

BC was a really good coach and a great recruiter - he was way too loyal to his inadequate DC (which is the same fear I have for HCSF).
 

wkato

Sophomore
Dec 23, 2006
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There was the story going around at the time that if you weren't a 1 or a 2, you didn't get much practice time. Basically stood around and watch everyone else get reps. His on the field mannerisms weren't the best, nowhere near Bo, but still ruffled feathers. The F'n Hillbillies comment and the throat slashing episode episode comes to mind. We took big flak for those two episodes. Bo just took it up a couple notches. He also tried to remove Nebraska's past, took down the pictures of Nebraska greats, etc.
 

CatColumbia

First Team All-Big Ten
Apr 19, 2014
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I know some guys who played under Solich and Callahan. There was a big change in culture. The staff was very disfunctional, specifically on defense. The players couldn’t stand Elmo, the DBs coach. Players couldn’t adjust from the fact that they played in a national championship game 3 years prior and then were getting yelled at by a coach from Purdue. Anyways, it amazes how well Callahan actually did in year 2-3. There was still that Nebraska culture during those years (Carriker, Moore, etc.). Once those guys were out in ‘07 the program had no foundation and when the going got tough, there was nothing there to get it back in order. That’s the behind the scenes story. For the optics, Callahans refusal to let go of Cosgrove cost him the job. That ‘07 class was set to be the best class in our history before our season imploded.
 

drubendall

Junior
Apr 18, 2004
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Cosgrove definitely was a terrible hire for the defensive side of the ball. That said, Callahan had plenty of shortcomings on offense as well. He racked up the yards and points against some weaker opponents, and had some exciting play makers running the ball and in the passing game, but his offense struggled mightily at times against good opponents. I don't think he had the proper mindset to be a college head coach. He was entrenched in an NFL style, transactional view of his roster. He was luring guys in with a dream to get them to the next level. Definitely a big disconnect with program overall and the fan base. That said, I give Callahan a grade of D.
 

litespeedhuskerfan

Nebraska Football Hall of Fame
Aug 27, 2006
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I remember what a big deal people made out of that. Beige Bill. He's probably like, seriously this is what you guys want to talk about?
He did it on purpose because the wheels had already fallen off and he dudn't want to he here anymore and couldn't quit so he acted like a child and eventually got his wish, I mean his money.
 

Herbert Husker

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Jan 26, 2018
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West Coast Offense can only be successful in college with elite players. Callahan was recruiting at a high level... for Nebraska. But he didn't have USC's roster. Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Mark Sanchez. Add in their RBs and WRs. We were pretty much trying to be USC with inferior talent.
 
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tpmcg

Offensive Coordinator
Mar 25, 2002
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like riley, he was in over his head as a head coach, especially here.
he, like solich and pelini, are now in positions that much better suit them.
if i could go back in time however, idve just let frank ride it out and let him retire, gracefully.
so much unnecessary turmoil to satisfy a spoiled, if not petulant fanbase.
 
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newAD

Head Coach
Oct 14, 2007
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I've said it before and I'll say it again. What he did was pretty remarkable. In three seasons, he instilled the WCO, and had Nebraska in the CCG. Truly think about that.

Why did he fail? The obvious answer was Cosgrove. Players like Ruud, Moore, and Carriker covered for just how bad Cosgrove and some others on the defensive staff were. I truly wonder if BC has regrets about his time here, because I think he could have done well with some staff changes.

However, the one thing that people forget, he threw all his chips down on Sam Keller in 2007. What if Sam Keller never came here and Ganz got 2 full years starting here?
 
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mgbreis

Senior
Dec 16, 2004
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However, the one thing that people forget, he threw all his chips down on Sam Keller in 2007. What if Sam Keller never came here and Ganz got 2 full years starting here?
Ganz was amazing. I just watched a few highlights from '08. First, wow - we really didn't have HD tv in '08? Second, if only he could've been a senior in '09 we would've been a serious contender that year.
 
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otismotis08

Assistant Head Coach
Jan 5, 2012
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parts unknown
He took down all of the traditions, and left us without an identity. It was a complete 180. Crazy thing is it almost worked for a little while. But now (after all the coaching changes) we're still trying to reclaim our identity. SF will get some of it back, just not sure how long it will take to right the culture, establish a nationally recognized identity that we can recruit to, and compete for championships again.
 
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Reditus

Walk On
Jun 20, 2019
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I think Callahan employed a pro type approach instead of a college approach in his coaching. I don't think he spent much time on fundamentals. He employed a New York Phonebook sized playbook. In practice they didn't correct mistakes they just tried to run as many plays as they could and they tried to correct the mistakes in the meeting room from the film vs on the field. There was no repetition on plays so execution suffered. Just my opinion.
 
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CatColumbia

First Team All-Big Ten
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I think Callahan employed a pro type approach instead of a college approach in his coaching. I don't think he spent much time on fundamentals. He employed a New York Phonebook sized playbook. In practice they didn't correct mistakes they just tried to run as many plays as they could and they tried to correct the mistakes in the meeting room from the film vs on the field. There was no repetition on plays so execution suffered. Just my opinion.
In my opinion Callahan’s drastic switch from option to west coast produced more impressive results than what Frost has done in switching from Riley’s offense. Perhaps Zac Taylor had a lot to do with that.
 

tpmcg

Offensive Coordinator
Mar 25, 2002
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I've said it before and I'll say it again. What he did was pretty remarkable. In three seasons, he instilled the WCO, and had Nebraska in the CCG. Truly think about that.

Why did he fail? The obvious answer was Cosgrove. Players like Ruud, Moore, and Carriker covered for just how bad Cosgrove and some others on the defensive staff were. I truly wonder if BC has regrets about his time here, because I think he could have done well with some staff changes.

However, the one thing that people forget, he threw all his chips down on Sam Keller in 2007. What if Sam Keller never came here and Ganz got 2 full years starting here?
oh, very good points!
i remember carriker and dagunduro just collapsing their side auburn oline in bowl game.
the next year we were left ill equipped
 
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The_Man_Behind_The_Man

Redshirt Freshman
Nov 28, 2016
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He was to loyal to his shitty d coordinator. If he fires cosgrove, he may still be at Nebraska. Dude could recruit
Totally agree that loyalty was Callahan’s undoing here. Ironic that Cosgrove was a D-Coordinator in the BIG-10. Once Callahan’s Offense got going we could score points but the Defense couldn’t stop anyone. If we had gone to BIG-10 earlier would Cosgrove had done better being familiar with the teams? Wasn’t he D-Coordinator under Alvarez? Would be interesting to see alternate timelines.
 
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Cosgrove definitely was a terrible hire for the defensive side of the ball. That said, Callahan had plenty of shortcomings on offense as well. He racked up the yards and points against some weaker opponents, and had some exciting play makers running the ball and in the passing game, but his offense struggled mightily at times against good opponents. I don't think he had the proper mindset to be a college head coach. He was entrenched in an NFL style, transactional view of his roster. He was luring guys in with a dream to get them to the next level. Definitely a big disconnect with program overall and the fan base. That said, I give Callahan a grade of D.
This is a good point. Everyone likes to say "if he had a better D-Coordinator, by golly he'd still be here!" But that is not accurate. There were plenty of awful offensive games and even a few where the defense bailed us out. We led the country in sacks in 2005! The defense giving up in 2007 was terrible and they were pretty bad throughout the tenure, but there were plenty plenty of "offensive" games from Callahan's offense as well. We won a game against Pitt 7-6 because we blocked multiple kicks.
 

petmj1

Newbie
Sep 26, 2017
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No doubt he could recruit and Pelini benefited from that the first few years. I distinctly remember once Ganz took over at QB late in Callahan's tenure, the offense took off. Ganz gave that offense somewhat of a true "dual threat" QB rather than the traditional pro style. Makes you wonder how the offense could have evolved under Callahan with this new spread, fast pace tempo we see today.
 

Wyldcard

Graduate Assistant
Gold Member
Feb 12, 2018
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John Blake was supposed to take over as DC as KC was supposed to leave and go coach with his buddy Brad Childress at Minnesota but changed his mind, that's why Blake left and went and coached with his Dallas buddy Butch Davis at North Carolina.

Blake had all of the defensive players, not just statrters ready and willing to run through a wall for him and that made Coz jealous and he did not like it one bit. The front 7 were under his tutelage and led the nation in sacks both years in 05-06. 49 in 05 and 54 in 06 and it was the DL that produced the majority of them both years.
 
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