H U S K E R D A N
Husker fans, learning of the firing of Frank
Solich, fall into one of the following camps:
You think Steve Pederson should be burned at the
stake for firing a loyal, great coach who was getting the program back on
track. You are for boycotting Pederson, turning in your season tickets
you've had since the Truman Administration. You are outraged by anyone who
would think otherwise.
This group says, that although you think the
program has suffered the past several years, you think Solich should have
been given at least another year to see what he could do with his new
This bunch thinks Solich should have been fired
long ago, before he had a chance to run the program into the ground. "Good
riddance, you say and take that %$#!* lame quarterback with you."
Q & O (QUESTIONS AND
Question: Where were you when you heard the
news of Frank Solich's dismissal?.
Husker Dan: I was watching the news at
Q: What was your reaction?
HD. I was a bit shocked.
Q. Did you think Frank should have been fired, in
view of a win at Boulder and a 9-3 record?
HD. I guess that's the part that surprised
me. Most coaches who go 9-3 get contract extensions rather than get
fired. I thought Frank had bought himself another year. I mean, who
ever heard of a coach getting fired with a 9-3 record?
Q. Wasn't the way he was fired a little
brutal? I mean the Husker Nation is a family. We don't cut coaches
off at the knees, right?
HD. There is no easy way to fire
someone. It's always tough. According to Pederson, the timing
of his decision was moved up due to the LJS article that appeared the
week before that quoted three anonymous boosters who
said Steve Pederson was going to axe Solich after the Colorado
game. Pederson claims he had to make the announcement sooner than he
wanted, because all the assistant coaches were scheduled to leave on
Q: So who's lying, Steve or the Lincoln
HD: Good question, but it's a moot
point. We're going to have a new head coach and that's that.
Q: What do you say to those who want to
boycott the football program?
HD: People can do what they want, but after
the dust settles, it will still be the Huskers playing in front of 78,000
screaming Husker fans who are cheering for the Big Red. I have no patience
with those who say they plan to root against the Huskers to
protest Solich's firing. That's just insane. I can't believe any
true Husker fan would, under any circumstances, hope for a Husker
loss. I've heard from people earlier in the year who hoped the Huskers
would lose down the stretch this year because they didn't want to be embarrassed
by the Sooners in the Big 12 championship game. They
also wanted us to lose so that Solich would get fired. That kind
of thinking is absolutely astonishing to me.
Getting back to the Husker "family" issue.
Let's not forget what happened last year. Solich fired defensive
coordinator and former Husker linebacker, Craig Bohl and long time "family"
member, assistant coach George Darlington. Frank also forced the
retirement last year of two more loyal "family" members, Milt Tenopir and
Husker fans should also not forget that after the
'82 season, long time "family" member and running backs coach, Mike "Iron
Mike" Corrigan, was forced to retire. Mike wanted to stay on at least
another year so he could have a chance to coach Mike Rozier, who he though
would have a great chance to win the Heisman. Rozier won the trophy it in
'83, but Corrigan was not his coach. Who was Corrigan's replacement?
Last year, Solich also bypassed (never say
"bypass" to an old person) long time "family" member assistant head coach
Turner Gill for the role of offensive coordinator. The job went
instead to Barney Cotton.
And in '93, despite the urging of head football
coach Tom Osborne, former Husker head coach and then athletic
director and "family" member, Bob Devaney, was forced out as AD to make way
for "Dollar Bill" Byrne. We all need to understand that college football,
especially, Husker football, is big business. Very big business. The
Husker athletic department is self-sustaining. It doesn't get any state
money. It must support all the other sports. Steve was hired to
restore the football program (make that "cash cow") back to its level
Steve also has to raise a buttload of money ($49
million, to be exact) for the new athletic facilities. He wants people in
place who he feels give him the best chance of winning the game of football and
the game of fund raising.
It should come as no surprise that Solich didn't
fit into Pederson's long range plans. When Steve held a press conference
last month announcing the new expansion plans, Solich was nowhere to be
found. Had Tom Osborne been the head coach at that time, do you think
there would have been any way that TO wouldn't have been there?
Q. When do you think Pederson made up his mind to
A. My guess is he knew for quite awhile,
maybe even before the season started. Steve is no dummy. He's been a
recruiting coordinator at Nebraska, Tennessee and Ohio State. He knows
football talent and he know we don't have the athletes who can compete for
Aaron Taylor, former Husker All-American offensive
guard who won the Outland trophy in 1997 said earlier this week on "Big Red
Wrap-Up" that the best Husker lineman this year, Richie Incognito, would not
have been good enough to start on any of the Husker national championship teams
of the 90s. The only All-American on this year's entire Husker
team, will likely be Kyle Larson, our walk-on punter from Funk,
Nebraska. Think of that-a PUNTER is our only All American! My how
things have changed.
Q: So you think recruiting was the main
HD: As Frank would say, "without question"
that was the reason. In sports, the name of the game is recruiting.
We haven't done a very good job of that.
Q. Do you think he should have been let
A. I thought he would have been given
another year. His assistants didn't have much time to recruit the kind of
kids they wanted. But Steve Pederson is a football guy. We have to
trust him and his decisions. Let's hope he's done the right
Q. Can you believe a coach would lose his job
after winning 9 games?
A. It's not unprecedented. Ask Earl
Bruce at Ohio State. Barry Switzer was also let go. Of course in
Barry's case, the Sooner program was out of control off the field.
Q: What impact will Solich's firing have on
this year's recruiting class?
HD: I hope it will be minimal, but the longer
this thing drags on, the greater the impact will be.
A: When do you think a decision will be
HD: I said last week to some friends, that I
thought a new coach will be introduced in a week to 10 days. If
Pederson waits any longer, our top 15 recruiting class will fade
Q: Okay, the $64,000 question. Who is
going to be the new head coach?
HD: It's really interesting that all the
perceived candidates for the position, Monte Kiffin, Norm Chow, Walt Harris
etc. insist they haven't been contacted by Steve Pederson for the
job. And this is a so-called "immediate" search!
Q: So what are you saying?
HD: I think Steve Pederson would not fire a
coach without already knowing who his successor was going to be.
Q: So who's the new head coach?
HD: Here's how I think this will go.
Steve will call a press conference, possibly early next week and will say
something like this:
"Thank you all for being here this afternoon.
As you know, the search for a new head football coach for the Nebraska
Cornhuskers began November 30th. The search was nationwide. The
search was thorough and comprehensive. We were looking
for someone to take this program to the next level. I interviewed
many, excellent candidates, but the more I looked, it became apparent that the
man who can best lead our team to greatness is already on our staff. Won't
you join me in welcoming Bo Pelini as our new head football coach".
Q: So Bo's your guy?
HD: I've maintained all along that Bo would
be Frank's successor. Pederson "encouraged" Frank to hire Bo last
year to run the defense. Pederson has known Pelini for over 15 years
dating back when both were at Ohio State-Pederson as the recruiting
coordinator and Bo as a player. I think Bo will make an excellent
head football coach. Hiring Bo will make the best sense for
recruiting purposes and will save the already cash-strapped athletic department
a bunch of money.
Q: There are rumors that Tom Rathman would
join Pelini's staff. What do you make of that?
HD: I'd be shocked if that wasn't the
case. He and Bo were assistant coaches for the '49ers.
Q: What will happen to the Husker
HD: My guess is that most, if not all the
assistants will stay through the bowl game. There may be some defections
prior to that, but I think most will stay. There are rumors that Solich
will be the head coach at Illinois and will take Turner Gill, Barney
Cotton, Ron Brown and Tim Albin with him. But who knows, anything could
Q: What do you want to say in
HD: First of all, I would like to urge
all Husker fans who want to boycott Steve Pederson and the football
program, to get through the grieving process, throw your support to the
program and embrace the new head coach and his staff. The Husker program
is bigger than any coach, athletic director, booster, player or any
Secondly, I think years from now
when I'm playing Trivial Pursuit with my
grandkids, I will get this question:
"Who was the Division 1 college football coach who
coached for 6 years, won 75% of his games, went to a bowl game every year
he coached, had a career record of 58-19, played for a national
championship, won a conference championship, produced a Heisman winner,
graduated over 70% of his players, ran a clean program and was fired after a 9-3