Except for two people, who Steve Pederson referred to as, "Coach Pellini" and "Coach Gill." Both were given what were referred to as "interviews", although Pellini went on record as saying "I'd hardly call that a job interview." Either Pellini or Gill would have been great hires. Husker Nation fell hard for Pellini and his fiery ways and the defense and winning the bowl game as interim coach. And Turner Gill was, and still is, the link to the great Husker tradition. Pellini is now a very hot coaching candidate, and one would think with Stevie P's shit packed up and gone that he'd at least give Nebraska a listen. Gill is stuck in Buffalo, and who knows what can happen with him now.
The bottom line is, January, 2004 came around, Steve Pederson threw his hands up in the air and non-verbally said, "I HAVE NO IDEA WHO CAN BE OUR COACH!" Then, an unemployable former head coach, who was ceremoniously shit-canned, fell into his lap. Steve Pederson wrapped around that ousted Raider coach who failed to change the audibles in the Super Bowl, and rolled the dice in a big way. Never mind this coach lost control of a team that included Jerry Rice and Tim Brown. Never mind this guy publicly called his team and players "the stupidest bunch of players in the world." This had disaster written all over it. There was never a "hey, this is crazy enough it just might work" thing about it. We'd all seen the movie before, and the ending never changes.
But that still leaves us with the big pink elephant in the room. One Bill Callahan, who also foolishly was given a contract extension AFTER THE FIRST GAME! In all likelihood, Harvey Perlman is on bended knee begging Tom Osborne to take the post in a role similar to the way Bob Devaney ran things. The problem with Osborne is he's not really the "firing" type. In fact, I can't remember Osborne firing anyone. His loyalty and generosity are well documented, and he's probably the only one who can unite everyone in terms of turmoil (READ: TO can be AD and Billy C can finish the season out, even if he loses every game, still a possibility). Osborne can always get Perlman or somebody else to do his bidding for him in terms of popping a cap in Callahan. What Osborne can bring come the off-season is that legitimate line of coaches who would really, really want the Nebraska job. And TO isn't an NFL guy. He'll get someone from the college ranks. Hell, he'll probably look to Gill and Pellini. He may even know where the next Bob Stoops is hiding.
If this sounds like it's an important decision, that's because in the state of Nebraska it is. The guess here that at least 80% of the state's population revolve their lives around Husker Football. People plan weddings around Husker games, and book their fall weddings on open dates when possible. A lot of people have learned to live and enjoy life and learn the sky doesn't fall when Nebraska loses over the past 8 years. But there can be no mistake that the economy in Nebraska actually goes down when Nebraska loses. People are more pissed off. Nobody wants to go out as much. It's a shallow mentality, but have you visited Nebraska? Yes, there's a beautiful new building in downtown Omaha called the Qwest Center that has brought in acts like the Eagles, U2, Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones (the latter concert of which both Callahan and Pederson attended - together). Creighton Basketball has become the hot winter ticket, selling out the Qwest center to the tune of 15,000+/game. Nebraskans have learned there are plenty more things to enjoy (the new Radiohead album perhaps, which is free) on Husker Saturdays. But you cannot get past the fact that there is Nebraska football, and then there's everything else. It's always been that way, and will continue to do so.
Chances are we're stuck with our big pink elephant in the room through the day after Thanksgiving. Don't kid yourself -- there's a behind the curtain coaching search going on right now. The following Monday, new Athletic Director Tom Osborne will introduce the next head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Everybody will become overly excited, probably even more so when Callahan promised magic with the vaunted West Coast Offense.
But I have to wonder what the fuck happened with Steve Pederson. He turned things around in a hurry at Pittsburgh. EVERYONE wanted him here when Bill Byrne escaped for Texas A&M (and if he survives that mess, whoa, look out). Trev Alberts went on local and national television demanding Pederson get hired as AD. He was a native Nebraskan. He was on Osborne's staff. He's in one of the pictures from one of the 1990's National Championship teams. To me, Pederson always looked like the type of guy who if you shook hands with him, you'd have to check to make sure you still had 5 fingers. I could never find one reason to trust the guy, even though I don't blame him for firing that lush Solich. But now this guy's legacy is the way he botched the Solich firing. How he botched the search for a new head coach. How he hired a damaged goods coach who just as well have showed up to the job interview dressed as Little Bo Peep.
In other words, Pederson's legacy will forever be that he himself destroyed the once dominate and elite Nebraska football program.