Maybe not bury him, but at least dig a hole six feet deep and toss a little dirt on him.
When kickoff hits at 2:30pm tomorrow afternoon, year 4 of the Billy C experiment will be in full force. If you look at successful college coaches across the country, year 4 is when they all make their big leap, either up or down. There are two major reasons for this:
- All of the players in year four are the "new" coaches kids. No more excuses of being saddled with players from the old regime.
- By year four, your mentality has taken over the program. Your stamp is all over the fucking thing. It's now officially YOUR baby. You knocked up the broad, now it's time to raise the kid.
So going into tomorrow, I count three big wins in Billy C's short tenure so far:
- The boring 7-6 win against Pittsburgh in 2005. The only reason this is brought up, and #1: It's the only time Billy C's beat a Top 25 team, and that Pitt team frankly had no business being ranked (they had just gotten beat by Solich's Ohio Bobcats the week before). But this is the only time a ranked team saw Callahan get the better of them.
- The come from behind win at Texas A&M last year. The Huskers were down and out for the count, but a block field goal attempt gave them life. After it looked like a loss could send the Corn to losing out on the Big 12 North Title, Zac Taylor led the team to a final touchdown in the final seconds, capped off with a miraculous catch by our man Maurice Purify to seal the deal. I count this one as the biggest win of the Callahan era. It was the come from behind variety, and a loss would have been devastating.
- The Alamo Bowl of 2005. It was a wild affair all night long, but in the end Billy C found a way to beat a decent Michigan team, a Michigan team that a year later would whine about not playing for the National Championship.
But the losses sting harder than those three victories feel good, especially the ones from the 2006 season. They had Texas on the ropes last year in Lincoln. They let the wheels come off completely at Oklahoma State in a game they had no business losing. They didn't even try at USC. The same feeling was felt against Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship. And then the final straw, when they had a very good Auburn team beaten in the Cotton Bowl on a fuzzy New Year's Morning, one that's remembered for Pat Summerall constantly saying about Marlon Lucky, "He'd rather be lucky than good." This is the one that sticks out, not just because it was the last game played, but because some bonehead coaching decisions really cost Nebraska a W against a great SEC team. It would have been a win against another ranked team. It would have allowed NU to finish the season ranked. They could have been 10-4 instead of 9-5. This one's all on Callahan, who had weeks to prepare and had Auburn beat for most of the game.
Nobody's expecting Nebraska to beat USC this year, even though the game's in Lincoln and it's the most anticipated game here in recent memory. Winning at Texas would be another tall order. So what game will be Callahan's statement win? At Missouri? Revenge against Okie State at home? I'd say he has to beat a ranked team (which could be Missouri, on the road), and somehow find a way to win the Big 12 Championship.
Billy C has proved to be an amazing recruiting, getting 5 star kids from all over the nation. The jury's still out on his coaching ability. He's going to get a 5th year, no matter what, because Stevie P has too much riding on Callahan being a success. The Nick Saban's of the world have shown they can change things quickly. It's time for Callahan to do something similar. He doesn't have Solich's kids to beat around anymore. Everything's now all on him. Losing 42-17 to USC at home could assure the wolf to always be at the door.
It's year four. This is the stamp year, where Callahan really distinguishes himself from previous coaches. Everybody there knows about the West Coast Offense. I've already generously predicted a 9-2 regular season, based on the talent that'll show up every week. In college, the head coach can make a world of difference. Anything worse than 9-2 and it's time to start looking at other candidates because Nebraska can no longer afford to be average for much longer.