H U S K E R D A N
Readers: The following Question and Opinion
forum is an attempt by Husker Dan to respond to some of you who have written
him asking what he thinks about all the turmoil that has been going on
Q: WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN,
HUSKER DAN? I THOUGHT YOU WOULD HAVE COMMENTED ON THIS MESS IN
LINCOLN LONG BEFORE NOW.
O: I composed a brilliant (!!!) column just
last week, but by the time it was read by my publisher, my
column had become obsolete and wasn't posted. I started to
write another article Monday only to have that one suffer the same
fate. There were other delays-the Holidays, house guests.
I installed a new computer. There was year end business I had to tend to
and there was a death in the family. All that, plus a general feeling
of uncertainty over the events of the past few weeks has left me
in a mood not conducive to writing. For the first time in 6
years, I failed to do write a prediction for a Husker bowl game and have
yet to write a recap of that game. It's been a difficult
time in Huskerland.
Q: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF
THE WAY STEVE PEDERSON HAS HANDLED THE HEAD COACHING
O: Steve Pederson is not likely to win
any popularity contests with Husker fans. His press conference gaffes, his Clinton-esque answers to media
questions, his keeping coaches, players, recruits and the rest of Husker Pride
Worldwide at bay for almost 6 weeks make it easy to understand why so
many have a dislike and distrust of Steve Pederson.
Pederson's biggest mistake may have
been in failing to level with Husker fans. At times, Steve sounded
like a snake oil salesman. He shouldn't have hidden behind semantics. He
should have just told the truth. Of course, we understand there are some
things concerning a new coaching hire that must remain private, but when
asked, "Did you make an offer to Houston Nutt?" he was less than
Steve didn't send a private jet to Arkansas
for nothing. Nutt and Arkansas AD Frank Broyles didn't call a press
conference for nothing. Nutt didn't receive a boost in pay for
nothing. Husker fans are not stupid. Maybe if Steve would
have said, "We didn't make a formal written offer to Coach Nutt, but a
compensation package was discussed and because of confidentiality, I am not at
liberty to discuss the details with you at this time", his response
would have been accurate, understandable and acceptable. But many felt
Pederson got a little slick.
And, raise your hands if you understood that
the search for a new coach wasn't going to begin until after the bowl
game. According to Steve Pederson, this season was supposed to be the
"Year of the Fan". Maybe Steve was referring to the fan he
would need to cool the heat from all the angry
Having said all that, Steve Pederson, in my
opinion, is dedicated to restoring the Husker football program to its once proud
Q: SO YOU'RE ENDORSING STEVE
O: I think one can object to his
methods, but Steve Pederson, in my opinion, is doing what's best in the long
run, for the Husker football program.
Q: BUT HE'S DISMANTLED
THE ENTIRE PROGRAM! WE WERE 10-3, THIS YEAR, NOT
O: Good point. It's true, the coaching
change would have been understandable had the team gone 3-10 this past
year. Part of me thinks Frank Solich should have been given another year
to see what he and the new assistant coaches could have accomplished.
Maybe with 2 or 3 good recruiting classes, the program could have turned
around. We'll never know.
Frank Solich may have been, in a sense, handcuffed
when he took over for Osborne in '98. Tom wanted Frank to retain all
the assistant coaches and, not wanting to show disloyalty to Osborne, Frank may
have kept some of his assistants too long. Frank may have felt going 9-3,
12-1, 10-2, and 11-2 in his first 4 seasons, that it would have
been difficult to justify firing any of his assistants. But by
the time 2002's dismal 7-7 season happened, the damage may have already
been done and the changes to Solich's staff may have come too late.
As a side note, it's no secret that Bill Byrne did
not want Solich to be Osborne's successor. But TO won the battle.
Bill Byrne was hired in '93 over the objections of Tom Osborne who lobbied to
retain Bob Devaney.
I'm sure the biggest concern Steve Pederson had
when he fired Frank Solich was with recruiting. Pederson, being a
former recruiting coordinator himself, likely sought the opinions of
other recruiting coordinators and recruiting "experts" about
the kind of talent NU had been going after the past few years.
Pederson probably discovered how far the talent level had
In Eric Olson's (Associated Press) column of
1/10/04, Tom Lemming, recruiting "expert" and close friend of Bill
Callahan, is quoted as saying, "They've (the Huskers) been getting guys who are
just good enough to get beat by Oklahoma and Texas," and asks, "When is
the last time they (the Huskers) got a great player form a super
Because of our recruiting problems, Pederson may
have thought the Husker football program was in danger of getting even
worse. So he fired Solich. His decision to replace Solich was
not an easy one.
Q: SO WHO WOULD YOU
HAVE LIKED TO REPLACE SOLICH?
O: My vote would have been for Bo. He
earned the job by what he did for the defense this year and for the
superb way he got the players and coaches to ready for the Alamo Bowl
against Michigan State. I loved his fire, his guts, his spirit, his
leadership, his passion, his football knowledge and his love for the game.
I'm still sick he didn't get the job.
Q: SO HOW DO YOU THINK
BILL CALLAHAN WILL DO?
O: I think he'll do a superb job. He
comes with impeccable credentials. He's been endorsed by Charlie McBride,
Adam Treu, Aaron Graham, UNO'S Chris Cooper, John Parrella, Mike White, Barry
Alvarez and Oakland great Rich Gannon. Callahan brings an incredible
knowledge of the game and has most of, if not all, the qualities I love
about Bo Pelini. My hope was that had Pelini been named head coach,
he would have kept more of the NU assistants.
Q: WHAT ABOUT THE
HUSKERS VAUNTED OPTION ATTACK? THAT'S ALSO BEEN THROWN
O: That's a great question. Over the
past few years, we haven't run much option football. Under Solich's watch,
the offense became one dominated by the quarterback. In order to make the
option work, you have to have a great I-back and a quarterback who can run and
throw. The last great I-back we had was Ahman Green in '97.
Had Barney Cotton remained as Offensive Coordinator
for NU, he likely would have scrapped the option as well. We are also
living in an age in which young football players dream of playing in the
NFL. Recruits want to go to the schools that give them the best
chance of reaching that dream. Of course, there are only a small
percentage of college players who are good enough to make it to the NFL,
but they all have that dream. The West Coast Offense is likely to
attract kids who otherwise wouldn't have considered Nebraska.
Callahan is also known for as a great recruiter. He's added John Blake
(ex-Sooner head coach-ouch!) who is also a fierce recruiter.
To be sure, this will not be your
father's Husker team or even your grandfathers' Husker team. It's going to
be incredibly exciting to see the Huskers' new look. Having said that, it
pains me a great deal to see coaches like Ron Brown, Marv Sanders, Jimmy
Williams, and Bo Pelini gone from the program. It's like seeing a landmark
being torn down. All that's left are the memories. I would hope
there would be some sort of ceremony honoring these Husker
greats. That would be a great gesture on the part of the
Q: WHAT EFFECTS WILL
THE COACHING CHANGES HAVE ON RECRUITING THIS YEAR?
O: We've already lost some players and we may
lose more, but Callahan may be able to sign some great players yet this year,
even with less than three weeks to go. The Huskers won't fully take
on a new look until Coach Callahan has a couple of years to recruit the players
who are best suited to run his style of offense.
Q: I'M JUST SICK
ABOUT WHAT STEVE PEDERSON HAS DONE TO THE ONCE GREAT HUSKER FOOTBALL
PROGRAM. I DON'T THINK I CAN ROOT FOR THEM ANY MORE.
O: I'm sure you're not alone, but hang in
there, the best is yet to come from the Huskers. I repeat, the best is yet
to come. And remember, the Husker program is bigger than Steve Pederson or
any one else. GO HUSKERS!!!!!
You can write Husker Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may access all
of Husker Dan's columns by going to Huskerpedia's home page, scrolling down to
"Extras" and scrolling to the right to "Husker Dan".