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Husker ADs, football, and rumors.


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Disclaimer: Looong read.

 

I have some thoughts about rumors and Nebraska football. But to fully understand today and how we got here, we have to understand yesterday.

 

Nebraska has succeeded in part due to who the athletic director is.

 

Nebraska reached a sustained, elite level under Bob Devaney. Nebraska never experienced anything like it. Suddenly they were on television frequently, national media loved Nebraska, and they were on the cover of Sports Illustrated. All of this for a sleepy little school in a sleepy little college town in a sleepy ole state.

 

This bought Bob a lot of goodwill.

 

If you live around Lincoln, you can still hear rumors of Bob being passed out in his car in odd locations. Like a front yard. However, these rumors never gained a lot of traction and Bob made Nebraska football an elite power house.

 

We can say winning cures everything but at Nebraska, that isn't always true.

 

Bob had incredible influence with his program. His job was to succeed and protect that success. Eventually Bob also became the AD and remained the AD until the early 90s and retained a special AD designation until 96.

 

Like I stated earlier, one thing he focused on as HC and especially as AD was protecting the program. One of those jobs was dealing with rumors.

 

Rumors can be a dangerous thing to a university. The players are still very young and they haven't learned the life lessons that can let them sift through bulls#!t. This causes distractions.

 

Rumors are also incredibly useful for anyone recruiting against Nebraska.

 

The coaches don’t need any more distractions than necessary and rumors can cause more distraction than any coach would ever admit while on the job.

 

Let's not forget, Boosters. They are the ones cutting the big checks but they are human like the rest of us. Hearing something outlandish is impossible to ignore...but very possible to not believe nor react to. But if we are being honest...rumors can hurt the program that way too.

 

Let’s take a step back now.

 

Let me ask any of you old timers. How often did you hear rumors under AD Devaney? Not as much since the mid-90s onward right? When you did hear one, it probably just died or you heard nothing if it since. We can say that it was a different time with technology but in a small community like Lincoln and the state in general...word gets around.

 

Bob understood the impact of rumors and squashed rumors, attacked them. This is self-evident by the lack of real juicy news leaked from the program. Tom Osborne touring the University of Colorado for potentially switching jobs? That could have been a national news story but most of the information we have gotten about it happened years after the fact when it wouldn’t cause much harm. Now THAT is protecting the program.

 

Do you guys think Devaney’s support and protection of the program would make a coach want to stay at Nebraska despite over-zealous fans, heavy handed boosters, and other stressors at a major program? You better believe it.

 

Football was the lifeblood to the program and Bob understood that. He also understood that you attack a rumor the second you hear it, and if you have enough influence, you can destroy or neuter a rumor. You can create a culture where spreading a rumor is heavily frowned upon.

 

A former coach knows all-to-well what rumors and gossip can do. They have a special life experience…a wisdom towards how to handle and approach these issues. AD’s not from a strong coaching background may not naturally be aware of there or know what to do with these situations. Heck, some might even look at it as not part of their job.

 

Back then, the inner workings of the university and the football program was strictly need-to-know. The university wasn’t afraid to take a strong hand to the media if they perpetuated rumors.

 

Let's be honest too, there is always selfishness in these things in regards to protecting one’s legacy. “I don’t want these rumors around, I want to be remembered for running a clean program/athletic department.” So is it possible bad things happened and people got hurt but it was kept quiet? If we are being honest with ourselves, we'd have to say that is a strong possibility. Protecting a program against rumors and bad press is a double edged sword.

 

So yes, it is good to squash rumors but as we have seen from stories in other universities…sometimes the truth needs to come out, burying something will just come back to haunt you.

 

 

Now let’s leap forward to 1992.

 

 

Bill Byrne took over in 92, but Bob still had a special Emeritus designation in the university. Bill had some qualities you always look for in an Athletic Director. He had 7 years of experience being the AD of Oregon and was nationally recognized as being able to get donors to open their checkbooks.

 

It is kind of odd though, Oregon was on the verge of being very well funded. During his time at Oregon, Byrne did not have very many accomplishments outside of his fund raising.

 

The program was stagnate.

 

Also, a very interesting thing happened the year before he came to Nebraska. In 1991 a sculpture was erected on campus grounds and Byrne ordered it removed as he didn’t feel it matched Oregon’s values. This got a lot of negative publicity…even leading to the President overruling Byrne and letting the statue stay. How did Byrne misjudge what the public would think to such an extent? Did he not understand what the University of Oregon is about? Could he have handled it in a way that would have avoided bad press? So many interesting questions when talking about the subject of rumors and bad press.

 

Citation: Oregon Unknowns: Byrne and the Blow Torch | FishDuck

 

Byrne was now in command but Devaney was still highly visible, influential, with his Emeritus status. Also, Dr. Tom was on the verge of something big and reaching the height of his popularity. Up to this point, the only thing that ever gained traction was a joke. “Why does Mrs. Osborne only let Tom eat cereal out of a plates? Because he loses all the bowls.”

 

In 96, Bob Devaney stepped down completely from the university. The Huskers just completed an amazing back-to-back championship performance and it looked like more titles were in the future.

 

However, something funny started happening…suddenly rumors were coming out about players. One being in a closet comes to mind. Distractions. 

 

Strange. The internet, e-mail, and text messaging didn’t really become a common thing. Yet, these rumors gained traction and were perpetuated. Even the chain e-mail boom was years away.

 

Other rumors emerged. We started hearing things that we never heard before. Some of them harmless “The team had the flu when they lost to Texas in the 96 Big 12 Championship?” Some not-so-harmless. Why were we hearing these things? Sure it was interesting and made us feel closer to the program but if we are honest, we didn’t need to know these things.

 

Byrne also continued his success at generating revenue and raising donations. However, to do this, he made a lot of changes that rubbed fans the wrong way. I imagine it could have rubbed coaches the wrong way too. Linking donations to seating. Slapping advertising on everything.

 

He had no tact with making these changes and selling them to the fans…and probably didn’t do a good job selling his ideas to coaches. Getting buy in. Making sure his decisions protected the program and making sure the faculty understood it protected the program and why it was important.

 

A small rift was growing on the future of the program. Dr. Tom wanted to call it quits. He wanted to quit on his own terms and not let the game pass him by. He decided the 1997 season would be his last.

 

However Bill Byrne and him disagreed on who should succeed him. There was a hot new coach by the name of Mack Brown who had shown a lot of interest in the NU program. For all of Bill’s faults, he had developed an ability, a system, or a network of people that allowed him to identify coaching talent. He was becoming good at it. (Remember when Van Horn left for the Arkansas baseball spot and Bill gave the spot to Mike Anderson and a few years later got Childress to leave for Texas A&M? A coup.)

 

Byrne was never a coach. He was an outsider. He had already shown at Oregon he didn’t have a grasp of the fans…what the program was all about. He showed it again with all the changes made while at Nebraska. He is on record mentioning his desire to win a “Director’s Cup” multiple times. An award for the athletic department that performed better across all sports than other schools. Sounds nice, but you better be focusing a little more on football than Olympic sports. He just didn’t seem to grasp the importance of Football to the University. He knew it was important sure. But not to the extent.

 

Maybe it was his fault, maybe it was Osborne’s. It was probably both, but for whatever reason Osborne felt compelled to name Solich his successor. He did so publicly and like the new found increase in rumors, It was not a secret that Byrne was caught off guard by this. I wonder what would have happened if Byrne learned how to communicate with Osborne and somehow sold him on the idea of Mack Brown. Or if Osborne sold Byrne on Solich.

 

Solich was already behind the 8-ball. He wasn’t Byrne’s pick. But he was winning at least. If a coach is winning at NU, going to bowls, and even competing in National Championship games…you can’t really do much. But Byrne was never a coach. It’s not that he wanted to give football space, it was that he was focused on other things…probably moreso than needed.

 

Maybe if he was paying attention to football he would have noticed a drop-off in recruiting. That eventually Osborne’s recruits would graduate. Solich did a lot of good things. He understood Nebraska football. But he didn’t see the things he needed to see until the 2001 off-season and the 2002 season.

 

Maybe Byrne just didn’t care. He was off to Texas A&M in 2002.

 

In looking for a replacement, a premium was put on someone with Nebraska ties. On paper, there wasn’t anyone better than a man by the name of Steve Pederson.

 

Pederson has been on the Husker staff for years in ancillary roles up to recruiting coordinator. He was the Athletic Director at Pitt. Obviously a homerun hire.

 

Although there was a word or two that some may have been a-ok with Steve leaving their University at Pittsburgh. He was very heavy handed and one thing he changed was removing “Pitt” from their helmets, logo, and identity. The same Pitt that adorned the helmets of Dan Marino, Tony Dorsett and a slew of other greats. I can only imagine what would happen if someone removed our “N”s.

 

Still though, there was a lot to be excited about as a Nebraska fan. This guy should get it.

Then the 2002 season happened. The worst season in decades. Whenever Nebraska got into trouble in a game, there was always someone who stepped up and made plays. Rescued the Huskers more often than not. This time, that didn’t happen. The Huskers seemed evenly matched. The play calling was predictable. Not much had actually changed in that department other than there were no longer elite level players running it.

 

We have to talk about Steve Pederson here. To give some context to the man. He did have strengths. Some very good ones. He was not an actual coach but he was around it and knew when things were going good or bad behind the scenes. If we do a history of Pederson and NU, he was always an outsider, from his frat house days to the athletic department when he worked his way up to recruiting coordinator. He never fit in. Maybe not all of it was his fault. He performed his duties well and was exceptional at glad handing. I would have to think not being able to fit in, nor being “one of the guys” made an impression on him towards the coaching staff he eventually oversaw. In hindsight, he came off as insecure as NU AD and compensated by being heavy handed.

 

Though Pederson should take the blame for lack of relationship with Solich and his staff, if we are being honest we have to ask:”What bonds could be built with Solich after the 2002 season/disaster?” Pederson was already in a crisis. A big one. The lifeblood of the program just finished 7-7. A year after a national championship appearance. Less than a decade away from winning it all 3 out of 4 years. There was no time to build a relationship, it was time to stop the bleeding. Pederson, playing to his strength, knew recruiting had not met expectations and concluded that it may be time for some new blood in the staff.

 

Solich announced the changes with tears running down his face. To his credit, Solich did do his research and hired a very competent staff. I wonder what I would think of Pederson, if I was Solich. He was here one year and forced me to fire my friends…my family. I would not be happy about it.

 

On the flip side, as Pederson and Solich continued have little interaction, Solich showed he was a true leader when he took his new-look coaching staff on a trip to build bonds. They were going to be a family too.

 

This whole time though, the rumors went from a drip to a leaky faucet. Horrible rumors. Ones you didn’t want to believe. You couldn’t bring yourself to believe. The most mild being Solich was an out of control drunk.

 

It was very odd too…I don’t remember hearing this stuff before Pederson became AD. Can any of you?

 

Pederson could have stomped on these rumors, attacked them. Traced them back to who started them, confronted them, got in some faces, told them how it is going to be. But he didn’t. I wonder if he intentionally did nothing about the rumors…or worse.

 

2003 turns in a 9-3 season. We are heading back in the right direction but you can tell our talent is still very low compared to what it used to be. But we had new, enthusiastic coaches. It was a season of mixed reactions. A lot of positives, but our 3 losses were for over an average of 3 touchdowns. For some of our younger fans, you must understand, these were considered massive blowouts to us back then.

Having 1 loss of this amount on a season was considered embarrassing and unforgivable. We were victims of our own success and most weren’t paying attention to our talent level.

 

Then Solich was fired. Bo Pelini was the interim coach, led NU to beat a solid Michigan State, and the last Bo was in the Lincoln news was him driving out of the Athletic Department parking lot. Pissed that he felt he was given a token interview.

 

I felt for Bo at the time. What he did with the defense was incredible. The first series of his…the game against Oklahoma State I watched him before every OSU offensive snap, he was standing behind their offense just watching and observing. They marched right down and scored…I was thinking “Here we go again.” But then he made adjustments, and on the very next series it was like I was watching a different defense. Okie State never had a chance.

 

However, if the school didn’t hire Bo, then surely Pederson has a whopper of a card to drop on the table.

 

What happened next was the most convoluted, embarrassing train wreck of a coaching search in probably college football history. 41 Days of terrible press and incompetence from Pederson of pulling the trigger before he had the next hire squared away.

 

Citation: The coaching search that changed Nebraska: An empty jet, mystery NFL coach and 41 eye-opening days – The Athletic

 

Callahan wasn’t the worst hire in college football history. Far from it. He had his moments. He was a defensive coordinator away from being elite. However, he was a big peace in Pederson’s desire to “modernize”. Which in turn further alienated people from the Athletic Department that Bill Byrne had started.

 

I will stop here. I might not return to this or I might continue it.

 

There is just so much that could be discussed and I heavily condensed everything down to this point.

 

I want to leave everyone with one thought though. At the beginning of the season Frost was the target of rumors, if we are honest, his teams have performed terribly. However, Trev Alberts, within a month? Weeks? Held a press conference where he stood by his Football coach and addressed the violation rumors.

 

Trev is a football guy. He understands you have to attack rumors. Get ahead of them. Set an example that prevents further ones.


 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Savage Husker said:

I can see a lot of truth to this.
 

I also believe that when Trev Alberts spoke at his introductory press conference that he touched on this, in a passive way. 

We have had a procession of ADs that didn't get or understand the Football program. The challenges it faces.

 

We have an AD,  that truly loves NU Football for the first time since going back to Devaney. In between, aside from Osborne's stints, we have had a parade of AD's that just didn't get it. I'll give Moos a pass.

 

If you were paying attention though, whenever Osborne took over, the rumors and other bulls#!t died down too. Remember him getting in front of the camera and supporting Callahan his last year?

 

Protect the program.

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1 hour ago, desertshox said:

i lost interest partway through. how did it end?

You did better than me. I only made it through the first two paragraphs (approx. 0.5% of the dissertation). I then scrolled and scrolled for what seemed like an eternity only to see some brilliant statement like Callahan was not a bad coach, far from it. That’s when I knew I had made a good choice to not wreck 3 hours.

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22 minutes ago, JJ Husker said:

You did better than me. I only made it through the first two paragraphs (approx. 0.5% of the dissertation). I then scrolled and scrolled for what seemed like an eternity only to see some brilliant statement like Callahan was not a bad coach, far from it. That’s when I knew I had made a good choice to not wreck 3 hours.

 

I am not a Callahan fan but I find it hilarious people thought or imply he was a terrible coach. His fault was loyalty to Cosgrove.

 

He recruited well. His offense did well. The defense got exposed after Carriker and co, moved on.

 

By the way, where did i say "Callahan wasn't a bad coach, far from it?"

I'll help you out, I didn't. 

 

I do agree with you that it would have taken you three hours to read it though.

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12 minutes ago, Kentmick said:

 

I am not a Callahan fan but I find it hilarious people thought or imply he was a terrible coach. His fault was loyalty to Cosgrove.

 

He recruited well. His offense did well. The defense got exposed after Carriker and co, moved on.

 

By the way, where did i say "Callahan wasn't a bad coach, far from it?"

I'll help you out, I didn't. 

 

I do agree with you that it would have taken you three hours to read it though.

 

3 hours ago, Kentmick said:

 

Callahan wasn’t the worst hire in college football history. Far from it. He had his moments.

Seems like a pretty glowing endorsement of the coach responsible for destroying what BD and TO built and nurtured to me.

 

Spin it how you want.

 

Probably could've got through it in much less time but with insight like that, it would've felt like 3 lifetimes.

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1 hour ago, JJ Husker said:

 

Seems like a pretty glowing endorsement of the coach responsible for destroying what BD and TO built and nurtured to me.

 

But spin it how you want.

It's a glowing endorsement to say he wasn't the worst hire in college football history and far from the worst hire? You have no idea what you are talking about.

 

Also, you blame Callahan for "destroying what BD and TO built". Well,Callahan didn't hire himself, Steve Pederson did. Pederson is the one who destroyed the program. Pederson was working on that before he even hired Callahan. Did you even read the Athletic article? Considering the train wreck of the coaching search, the fact that we got a coach who recruited well, made it to the Big 12 title game, beat Michigan in a bowl game, we did better than it could have been. 

 

Was Callahan a fit for Nebraska? Nah. But I think Callahan did his best. Gave an honest effort. The only thing that I found unforgivable was not letting Cosgrove go. But then again, I assume he was circling the wagons after fans made death threats to Cosgrove and harassed his kids. I mean, I can sympathize with that.

 

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There are a few things I can comment on.  

First off, its hard to get the rallying behind the team and the University when its a non Nebraska Alumni or someone who has not been in the state who has been eating, drinking and sleeping Nebraska Football. 

Trev Alberts, saw a team make a change when they went into attacking 4-3 football.  Nebraska gained speed, attacked with no remorse and earned the right to the Blackshirts having an attitude that they were feared once they took the field.  Nebraska was 1:16 away from a National Championship Season in 1993.

I can imagine without a doubt, Trev Alberts told the returning players of the 1994 season, "You've got to get back to the Orange Bowl again"

Fast Forward to the 1995 Orange Bowl, when Nebraska pulls ahead 24-17.  You can see Trev Alberts telling people "you guys are awesome!"  

He knew FINALLY, Tom Osborne had his National Championship, after 22 years.  all the hard work finally paid off. 

Scott Frost has had the taste of Defeat this season, but we're so close, this isn't a matter of "Moral Victories" but, Nebraska Football is in the right direction.  in 1996 Nebraska had 2 losses.  A blowout at the hands of Arizona State, and a late loss to Texas.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but many people said "this is the end of Nebraska Football"  Then in 1997, Nebraska found a way.  It was as if it was "Refuse to Lose Part 2".  1997 C0-Champions.

 

All of the finest College Football teams have had their ups and downs.  Nebraska Football is on the rise again.  

Some way, somehow, this season, you are going to see it all come together.  It's going to happen against either Ohio St, or what could be the #1 team at the time 

Iowa. 

 

 

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8 hours ago, Kentmick said:
 

Disclaimer: Long read.

 

I have some thoughts about rumors and Nebraska football. But to fully understand today and how we got here, we have to understand yesterday.

 

Nebraska has succeeded in part due to who the athletic director is.

 

Nebraska reached a sustained, elite level under Bob Devaney. Nebraska never experienced anything like it. Suddenly they were on television frequently, national media loved Nebraska, and they were on the cover of Sports Illustrated. All of this for a sleepy little school in a sleepy little college town in a sleepy ole state.

 

This bought Bob a lot of goodwill.

 

If you live around Lincoln, you can still hear rumors of Bob being passed out in his car in odd locations. Like a front yard. However, these rumors never gained a lot of traction and Bob made Nebraska football an elite power house.

 

We can say winning cures everything but at Nebraska, that isn't always true.

 

Bob had incredible influence with his program. His job was to succeed and protect that success. Eventually Bob also became the AD and remained the AD until the early 90s and retained a special AD designation until 96.

 

Like I stated earlier, one thing he focused on as HC and especially as AD was protecting the program. One of those jobs was dealing with rumors.

 

Rumors can be a dangerous thing to a university. The players are still very young and they haven't learned the life lessons that can let them sift through bulls#!t. This causes distractions.

 

Rumors are also incredibly useful for anyone recruiting against Nebraska.

 

The coaches don’t need any more distractions than necessary and rumors can cause more distraction than any coach would ever admit while on the job.

 

Let's not forget, Boosters. They are the ones cutting the big checks but they are human like the rest of us. Hearing something outlandish is impossible to ignore...but very possible to not believe nor react to. But if we are being honest...rumors can hurt the program that way too.

 

Let’s take a step back now.

 

Let me ask any of you old timers. How often did you hear rumors under AD Devaney? Not as much since the mid-90s onward right? When you did hear one, it probably just died or you heard nothing if it since. We can say that it was a different time with technology but in a small community like Lincoln and the state in general...word gets around.

 

Bob understood the impact of rumors and squashed rumors, attacked them. This is self-evident by the lack of real juicy news leaked from the program. Tom Osborne touring the University of Colorado for potentially switching jobs? That could have been a national news story but most of the information we have gotten about it happened years after the fact when it wouldn’t cause much harm. Now THAT is protecting the program.

 

Do you guys think Devaney’s support and protection of the program would make a coach want to stay at Nebraska despite over-zealous fans, heavy handed boosters, and other stressors at a major program? You better believe it.

 

Football was the lifeblood to the program and Bob understood that. He also understood that you attack a rumor the second you hear it, and if you have enough influence, you can destroy or neuter a rumor. You can create a culture where spreading a rumor is heavily frowned upon.

 

A former coach knows all-to-well what rumors and gossip can do. They have a special life experience…a wisdom towards how to handle and approach these issues. AD’s not from a strong coaching background may not naturally be aware of there or know what to do with these situations. Heck, some might even look at it as not part of their job.

 

Back then, the inner workings of the university and the football program was strictly need-to-know. The university wasn’t afraid to take a strong hand to the media if they perpetuated rumors.

 

Let's be honest too, there is always selfishness in these things in regards to protecting one’s legacy. “I don’t want these rumors around, I want to be remembered for running a clean program/athletic department.” So is it possible bad things happened and people got hurt but it was kept quiet? If we are being honest with ourselves, we'd have to say that is a strong possibility. Protecting a program against rumors and bad press is a double edged sword.

 

So yes, it is good to squash rumors but as we have seen from stories in other universities…sometimes the truth needs to come out, burying something will just come back to haunt you.

 

 

Now let’s leap forward to 1992.

 

 

Bill Byrne took over in 92, but Bob still had a special Emeritus designation in the university. Bill had some qualities you always look for in an Athletic Director. He had 7 years of experience being the AD of Oregon and was nationally recognized as being able to get donors to open their checkbooks.

 

It is kind of odd though, Oregon was on the verge of being very well funded. During his time at Oregon, Byrne did not have very many accomplishments outside of his fund raising.

 

The program was stagnate.

 

Also, a very interesting thing happened the year before he came to Nebraska. In 1991 a sculpture was erected on campus grounds and Byrne ordered it removed as he didn’t feel it matched Oregon’s values. This got a lot of negative publicity…even leading to the President overruling Byrne and letting the statue stay. How did Byrne misjudge what the public would think to such an extent? Did he not understand what the University of Oregon is about? Could he have handled it in a way that would have avoided bad press? So many interesting questions when talking about the subject of rumors and bad press.

 

Citation: Oregon Unknowns: Byrne and the Blow Torch | FishDuck

 

Byrne was now in command but Devaney was still highly visible, influential, with his Emeritus status. Also, Dr. Tom was on the verge of something big and reaching the height of his popularity. Up to this point, the only thing that ever gained traction was a joke. “Why does Mrs. Osborne only let Tom eat cereal out of a plates? Because he loses all the bowls.”

 

In 96, Bob Devaney stepped down completely from the university. The Huskers just completed an amazing back-to-back championship performance and it looked like more titles were in the future.

 

However, something funny started happening…suddenly rumors were coming out about players. One being in a closet comes to mind. Distractions. 

 

Strange. The internet, e-mail, and text messaging didn’t really become a common thing. Yet, these rumors gained traction and were perpetuated. Even the chain e-mail boom was years away.

 

Other rumors emerged. We started hearing things that we never heard before. Some of them harmless “The team had the flu when they lost to Texas in the 96 Big 12 Championship?” Some not-so-harmless. Why were we hearing these things? Sure it was interesting and made us feel closer to the program but if we are honest, we didn’t need to know these things.

 

Byrne also continued his success at generating revenue and raising donations. However, to do this, he made a lot of changes that rubbed fans the wrong way. I imagine it could have rubbed coaches the wrong way too. Linking donations to seating. Slapping advertising on everything.

 

He had no tact with making these changes and selling them to the fans…and probably didn’t do a good job selling his ideas to coaches. Getting buy in. Making sure his decisions protected the program and making sure the faculty understood it protected the program and why it was important.

 

A small rift was growing on the future of the program. Dr. Tom wanted to call it quits. He wanted to quit on his own terms and not let the game pass him by. He decided the 1997 season would be his last.

 

However Bill Byrne and him disagreed on who should succeed him. There was a hot new coach by the name of Mack Brown who had shown a lot of interest in the NU program. For all of Bill’s faults, he had developed an ability, a system, or a network of people that allowed him to identify coaching talent. He was becoming good at it. (Remember when Van Horn left for the Arkansas baseball spot and Bill gave the spot to Mike Anderson and a few years later got Childress to leave for Texas A&M? A coup.)

 

Byrne was never a coach. He was an outsider. He had already shown at Oregon he didn’t have a grasp of the fans…what the program was all about. He showed it again with all the changes made while at Nebraska. He is on record mentioning his desire to win a “Director’s Cup” multiple times. An award for the athletic department that performed better across all sports than other schools. Sounds nice, but you better be focusing a little more on football than Olympic sports. He just didn’t seem to grasp the importance of Football to the University. He knew it was important sure. But not to the extent.

 

Maybe it was his fault, maybe it was Osborne’s. It was probably both, but for whatever reason Osborne felt compelled to name Solich his successor. He did so publicly and like the new found increase in rumors, It was not a secret that Byrne was caught off guard by this. I wonder what would have happened if Byrne learned how to communicate with Osborne and somehow sold him on the idea of Mack Brown. Or if Osborne sold Byrne on Solich.

 

Solich was already behind the 8-ball. He wasn’t Byrne’s pick. But he was winning at least. If a coach is winning at NU, going to bowls, and even competing in National Championship games…you can’t really do much. But Byrne was never a coach. It’s not that he wanted to give football space, it was that he was focused on other things…probably moreso than needed.

 

Maybe if he was paying attention to football he would have noticed a drop-off in recruiting. That eventually Osborne’s recruits would graduate. Solich did a lot of good things. He understood Nebraska football. But he didn’t see the things he needed to see until the 2001 off-season and the 2002 season.

 

Maybe Byrne just didn’t care. He was off to Texas A&M in 2002.

 

In looking for a replacement, a premium was put on someone with Nebraska ties. On paper, there wasn’t anyone better than a man by the name of Steve Pederson.

 

Pederson has been on the Husker staff for years in ancillary roles up to recruiting coordinator. He was the Athletic Director at Pitt. Obviously a homerun hire.

 

Although there was a word or two that some may have been a-ok with Steve leaving their University at Pittsburgh. He was very heavy handed and one thing he changed was removing “Pitt” from their helmets, logo, and identity. The same Pitt that adorned the helmets of Dan Marino, Tony Dorsett and a slew of other greats. I can only imagine what would happen if someone removed our “N”s.

 

Still though, there was a lot to be excited about as a Nebraska fan. This guy should get it.

Then the 2002 season happened. The worst season in decades. Whenever Nebraska got into trouble in a game, there was always someone who stepped up and made plays. Rescued the Huskers more often than not. This time, that didn’t happen. The Huskers seemed evenly matched. The play calling was predictable. Not much had actually changed in that department other than there were no longer elite level players running it.

 

We have to talk about Steve Pederson here. To give some context to the man. He did have strengths. Some very good ones. He was not an actual coach but he was around it and knew when things were going good or bad behind the scenes. If we do a history of Pederson and NU, he was always an outsider, from his frat house days to the athletic department when he worked his way up to recruiting coordinator. He never fit in. Maybe not all of it was his fault. He performed his duties well and was exceptional at glad handing. I would have to think not being able to fit in, nor being “one of the guys” made an impression on him towards the coaching staff he eventually oversaw. In hindsight, he came off as insecure as NU AD and compensated by being heavy handed.

 

Though Pederson should take the blame for lack of relationship with Solich and his staff, if we are being honest we have to ask:”What bonds could be built with Solich after the 2002 season/disaster?” Pederson was already in a crisis. A big one. The lifeblood of the program just finished 7-7. A year after a national championship appearance. Less than a decade away from winning it all 3 out of 4 years. There was no time to build a relationship, it was time to stop the bleeding. Pederson, playing to his strength, knew recruiting had not met expectations and concluded that it may be time for some new blood in the staff.

 

Solich announced the changes with tears running down his face. To his credit, Solich did do his research and hired a very competent staff. I wonder what I would think of Pederson, if I was Solich. He was here one year and forced me to fire my friends…my family. I would not be happy about it.

 

On the flip side, as Pederson and Solich continued have little interaction, Solich showed he was a true leader when he took his new-look coaching staff on a trip to build bonds. They were going to be a family too.

 

This whole time though, the rumors went from a drip to a leaky faucet. Horrible rumors. Ones you didn’t want to believe. You couldn’t bring yourself to believe. The most mild being Solich was an out of control drunk.

 

It was very odd too…I don’t remember hearing this stuff before Pederson became AD. Can any of you?

 

Pederson could have stomped on these rumors, attacked them. Traced them back to who started them, confronted them, got in some faces, told them how it is going to be. But he didn’t. I wonder if he intentionally did nothing about the rumors…or worse.

 

2003 turns in a 9-3 season. We are heading back in the right direction but you can tell our talent is still very low compared to what it used to be. But we had new, enthusiastic coaches. It was a season of mixed reactions. A lot of positives, but our 3 losses were for over an average of 3 touchdowns. For some of our younger fans, you must understand, these were considered massive blowouts to us back then.

Having 1 loss of this amount on a season was considered embarrassing and unforgivable. We were victims of our own success and most weren’t paying attention to our talent level.

 

Then Solich was fired. Bo Pelini was the interim coach, led NU to beat a solid Michigan State, and the last Bo was in the Lincoln news was him driving out of the Athletic Department parking lot. Pissed that he felt he was given a token interview.

 

I felt for Bo at the time. What he did with the defense was incredible. The first series of his…the game against Oklahoma State I watched him before every OSU offensive snap, he was standing behind their offense just watching and observing. They marched right down and scored…I was thinking “Here we go again.” But then he made adjustments, and on the very next series it was like I was watching a different defense. Okie State never had a chance.

 

However, if the school didn’t hire Bo, then surely Pederson has a whopper of a card to drop on the table.

 

What happened next was the most convoluted, embarrassing train wreck of a coaching search in probably college football history. 41 Days of terrible press and incompetence from Pederson of pulling the trigger before he had the next hire squared away.

 

Citation: The coaching search that changed Nebraska: An empty jet, mystery NFL coach and 41 eye-opening days – The Athletic

 

Callahan wasn’t the worst hire in college football history. Far from it. He had his moments. He was a defensive coordinator away from being elite. However, he was a big peace in Pederson’s desire to “modernize”. Which in turn further alienated people from the Athletic Department that Bill Byrne had started.

 

I will stop here. I might not return to this or I might continue it.

 

There is just so much that could be discussed and I heavily condensed everything down to this point.

 

I want to leave everyone with one thought though. At the beginning of the season Frost was the target of rumors, if we are honest, his teams have performed terribly. However, Trev Alberts, within a month? Weeks? Held a press conference where he stood by his Football coach and addressed the violation rumors.

 

Trev is a football guy. He understands you have to attack rumors. Get ahead of them. Set an example that prevents further ones.


 

 

 

 

Thanks for the disclaimer. 

 

Yeah, Trev's okay. 

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7 hours ago, desertshox said:

 

can we change one of the rep points to this?

 

That rep would be broken within the day thanks to the Politics and Religion board. 

 

 

 

 

Also, the TL;dr version:

 

$ Bill Byrne sucked before he got to Nebraska, sucked at Nebraska, and left sucking. Only reason we didn't know how sucky $ Bill Byrne was is due to the Bobfather still being around early in $ Bill's tenure to pick up the slack. And Trev doesn't suck. 

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