Friday, November 23, 2007

Game 12: The End

Major props to Mackenzie for comparing the end of Bill Callahan in Lincoln to the final days of Elvis. He even linked to a clip of one of Elvis' final shows - in, wait for it, wait for it...LINCOLN. Even in the end, the King still had that amazing voice, even though he was so far bloated that he looked like he was wearing Gwyneth Paltrow wore in Shallow Hal. More of Elvis' final days can be seen here in clip from his last show in Omaha:

In the end, Callahan will always have that playbook that was the size of Elvis on the toilet in August, 1977. Let's not feel that bad for Billy C. He's going to walk out of there tomorrow morning with a shitload of dimes, and even though two of his four years in Nebraska ended in November to Colorado and not a Bowl Game, Callahan is leaving the program in better shape than when he got here.

How so? From a talent standpoint, whoever takes over is going to have much better talent than what Callahan found in Joe Dailey and company (provided Marlon Lucky doesn't leave for the NFL). As Tony Soprano would remind us, focus on the good times. Callahan did manage to expand the recruiting base of Husker Nation to areas that Frankie Solich wouldn't even think of going to. Kids that wouldn't even bother looking up Lincoln on a google map are now making visits.

And that's ultimately Callahan's legacy. He brought in Maurice Purify, Joey Ganz and Purify. Guys who helped put up 51 points against Colorado today. But he forgot the old adage about how defense wins championships. Callahan never, from the word go, gave two shits about the defensive side of things. He was so entrenched in his West Coast Offense that he just assumed that Kevin Cosgrove was going to take care of things on the other side of the ball. So it can be said Callahan lived up to his end of the bargain. What's sad is that he's so hitched to Grover to the point that it's going to cost him.

I don't expect Callahan to get another head coaching job. This is the sort of garbage that will hang around his neck for maybe the remainder of his professional life. He somehow got another shot at the title after ruining the Oakland Raiders. There's already a press conference scheduled for tomorrow morning. And you don't schedule a presser unless there's some big news, especially with Nebraska and Creighton playing basketball in the early tomorrow afternoon. Which means it's more than obvious as to what awaits Callahan when he hooks up with Tom Osborne in the morning. Just get it over with already.

It's not Callahan's fault that his former boss Steve Peterson gave him the keys to the castle to do with what he wanted. But with Peterson out, somebody has to answer for this mess. The five game losing streak, the record of 27-22 in four years. Missing those two bowl games in four seasons, when just one win would have taken you there. So the check goes right to Callahan, on top of his thick-ass playbook.

It's also not Callahan's fault that he isn't the guy who Osborne would hire to run the program, even if it truly is Osborne's decision. And nobody wants to admit how badly TO has handled things over the past month, especially letting out that "it's up to the new coach's" comment on KETV. Osborne clearly knows his influence over everything in the state of Nebraska. Him straddling the fence on Callahan -- and ultimately burying him -- added to the state of chaos during the losing streak. (Which reminds me, it might be time to scan in the great "Tom Osborne is God" article in GQ by Tom Junod.) We always hear about how Billy C never embraced the Husker tradition, when the reality of it is that the very tradition everyone remembers is the same one that wouldn't even let him in the door. From his first day as interim AD, Osborne made it known that there would be a new coach to take over this program. I think everyone figured Callahan would simply quit, forgetting the $3 million and change that waited for him if he got the axe.

No matter. This term of the last four years is just going to be remembered as the pretty mess that it was. It was only fitting that the Huskers showed up in Boulder in all white uniforms for the first time since 2002, as if Callahan was waving the white flat to all of Nebraska. And that he started the game with the spread option. Ed Whitson was a horrible fit for the Yankees. Franco Harris should have never gone to Seattle, just like Tony Dorsett shouldn't have been a Bronco, or Emmitt Smith a Cardinal. Dave Navarro was a bad idea in the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Callahan and Nebraska just didn't work out. So fire him. Just make sure that the next person is the right one. Or else this program is going to sound like a broken record another four years from now.

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