No matter. For the past few weeks, I've watched as Kansas City has turned from a Chiefs crazy town into a college football town. The Missouri/Kansas game one week from tonight at Arrowhead is the hottest ticket in town since Game 7 of the 1985 World Series. Even though I got a little worried about Jayhawk fan on Thursday night.
Bars in KC were jam packed with KU fans everywhere, dressed up in KU gear. I figured everyone was out to watch the Oregon game. And then when Dennis Dixon went down with what is now officially a torn ACL, the Husker in me figured that KU fans would let out louder cheers of joy than when Philadelphia fans were so happy to watch Michael Irvin end his career in Philly to injury.
Not a peep.
Nobody even seemed to really WATCH the Oregon game. I figured fans were just texting one another and cautiously hoping for the best (as in, yes it's good that Oregon was going to lose, but let's not, to quote Winston Wolfe, go sucking each other's dicks just yet and overlook Iowa State). There was about five minutes left in the Oregon game, when I approached a table of KU Fans.
"You guys have got to be happy with this game right? Isn't that why you're all out here?"
"Dude, there was a Kansas basketball game on tonight."
So even at 10-0, now 11-0, Kansas is still a basketball school, but you gotta think everyone's in on the Kool Aid come one week from tonight. I mean, if you don't have tickets to that game, you're going to have to pony up some $600 and a blow job or two just to get into the stadium. How lucky did Kansas City get in scheduling this thing on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, where it's going to be a prime time nationally televised game. Brent Musburger will tell everyone about looking live at Arrowhead Stadium. ESPN's College Gameday, including an NU alum to help Lee Corso put on the mascot head, will be in full force in KC. And nobody will even bother talking about the Chiefs game, the very next day, on the same field, against the Raiders.
The Raiders? Oh yeah, the job Billy C had before he moved his family and a bunch of hapless coaches to Nebraska. If Callahan and company need some money for Christmas, they'd do well to click here and maybe even rub shoulders with Jim Carrey. (Seriously, why is there going to be a Jim Carrey movie with a Nebraska home game taking up one of the scenes? It's directed by the same guy who did the Jennifer Aniston/Vince Vaughn pseudo lovefest The Break Up??? And they already did some filming during the NU/OSU debacle from earlier this year? Really? And they still want to use a Nebraska home game? OK.)
At any rate, it doesn't look like Billy C will even get the chance to coach in the Bowl Game, provided the Corn takes care of business at Colorado. But it's official: If TO and company really want to part ways with Callahan, they have no choice but to fire him. Seriously, his contract says he cannot be reassigned to another gig in the Athletic Department. If they want him out, it's going to cost and cost big time. But, just like Solich before him, Callahan officially gets an audience with the Pope on November 24th -- the day after the Colorado game. So by the time things get kicked off in KC, ESPN News will be running, "Breaking News: Bill Callahan Fired at Nebraska."
I can be one of Osborne's biggest critics, but man that guy can keep a secret. Meaning this: Why else would he meet with the coaching staff the day after the end of the regular season -- when there could still be a month left of practice, and a game to get ready for -- if he DIDN'T have the next head coach in line? Obviously, he has a plan, and I don't think it's the one I talked about last week that suggests Bill C is ok for at least another year but a new defensive crew is coming in. The problem is, who would coach the Bowl Game, if there is one? If Bo Pelini's the guy, he aint going anywhere until after January. Is TO going to bring Turner Gill in on spec? Doubtful. If Callahan takes the bullet next week, that means the entire coaching staff runs along with his happy little ass. And you can't turn the Bowl Game down, not when you have to eat up contracts like Mangenius at Thanksgiving Dinner.
"A decision concerning the coaching staff will be made after the Colorado game next week," Osborne said in a statement . "There has been a clear understanding between the coaches and me that the end of the season is the last regularly scheduled game and not the bowl game."
In other words, Ozzy has a plan. But I'll bet there's nobody who wants to see Colorado whip up on this team more than TO. He doesn't want to have to wipe a smug Billy C to the floor after they hand it to the Buffaloes. And not even Osborne can withstand a month-long search for a coach, not like the one Stevie P put us all through 4 years ago.
Samuel McKewon did a great piece on the Top 10 triumphs of the Billy C era. We're going to beat him to the punch a little by offering up our own 10 Biggest Debacles under Billy C. In no particular order, and you'll tell us if we've missed something:
- If you're gonna lie to me, tell me there's a broad in the car waiting to tongue my balls.: One of my favorite stories is being in Vegas in October, 2004, and seeing a bunch of Wisconsin people in the airport. They all went out of their way to THANK US for taking Kevin Cosgrove away from them. That he was so awful, so bad, and we got these sinister smiles. "You'll see," they said. Oh well, at least Grover did give us miles of comedy with that playbook in the front of his pants thing. I still can't believe Cosgrove has lasted all four years of this term. We were sold some bill of goods on this guy. But back in October, 2004, in Vegas, where we're no allowed to discuss anything, we all knew. I guess there's a reason he's number one on this list...
- That 70's Show: It started October 9, 2004, when somehow Texas Tech (not yet TEXAS TECH, which isn't all that much really) hung 70 on the Corn. It became a broken record two weeks ago when the Jayhawks put up 76 against Cosgrove and Company. Even Iowa State held the Jayhawks to 45 on the road. Twice in a four year span is just too much for a program that expects to at least be RANKED every week.
- I Built That Movie Room So We Could Watch Movies Together, As a FAMILY: One of the more unsung traditions -- at least among NU players -- was the camaraderie building night out at the movies on Fridays before games. Callahan shooed this away like the option, and players were yelling and screaming about the change, especially the older veteran ones. Billy C wanted to say he was all about preparation, all the time, and a night out to watch, say, The Break Up, was not about preparation, even if it meant getting to see the back of Jennifer Aniston naked. Even with the WCO, this was the first real sign that Callahan didn't understand these were still students, and they loved shit like taking 2 hours to chill on Friday night after a long week of getting ready for Ball State.
- I'm A Loser Baby, So Why Don't You Kill Me: The Harrison Beck mess. He got a police escort to the first spring game of the Billy C era. He turned down many, many other schools to be the savior in Lincoln. Then in 2005, in a seriously desperate move, when Zac Taylor was clearly the quarterback that year and the year following, Callahan pulled Beck out of his redshirt to go 1-6 passing with a pick to make sure they beat Kansas State at home, and get to that Bowl Game that they missed in 2004. Beck would quit the team in August, 2006, and it was the first sign from one of Billy C's vaunted recruits that he didn't know how to handle these kids.
- Just remember, you got OPTIONS: I remember just before Callahan was introduced as the new sheriff in town, reporters everywhere speculated about what he'd do on offense. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, said out loud that they were anticipating something similar to what Barry Alvarez did at Wisconsin. Nobody expected a 500 pound playbook, especially with an option quarterback named Joe Dailey as your only, ahem, option. Even after Billy C announced the West Coast Offense was the new flavor in town, everyone figured he'd give it a year before going full throttle with it. No matter. Callahan took the square peg in a round hole approach, and suffered mightily in 2004 with Dailey trying to run the sinking ship. The worst sign: After every play, Callahan made Dailey come back to the sidelines to get the new play. No matter all the substitutions that were taking place on every play, where somebody else could have just given the play to Joe. It was almost like Billy C had to describe to Dailey how the play would work. "One guy's going run a slant, another's going to curl left, another curl right, this white guy's going to fly, oh, and whatever YOU do, DON'T RUN with the football! Even though that's what you think you should do."
- Light in My Darkness My ASS: Sam Keller was obviously brought in as a one-and-done quarterback. And early returns on that kid were legitimate. I, for one, loved his cockiness and enthusiasm. But it was obvious, after, oh, the FOURTH dropped exchange from center in game time that Arizona State was right about Keller's thumb. In year four, Callahan went all in with Keller, and while you certainly can't pin this horrible season on Sam, Husker Nation is sure wondering "What If?" after seeing Joe Ganz the last two weeks. All I'm saying is that Callahan had blinders on in regards to Keller. Did he even look past him? Sure Callahan talked the talk about how, "There's still a competition at quarterback and we'll play the best guy," but you always got the feeling that Keller and Callahan had an understanding that no matter what, Sam I Am would be the man.
- Monday, Monday -- Hmm...Mama Cass, sing "Sunday, Sunday" instead, I think that sounds better: In one of the most bizarre moves of any college coach in recent memory, Callahan decided that the teams first practice for the upcoming week would be on the very next day. Sundays, instead of Monday. Conventional wisdom always dictated that kids took Sundays off because it was the day after a big game, and they could, wink, wink, Study, wink, wink. Like the movie night, something else that really rattled the veteran players. Old Husker faithful could be overheard saying, "What about Church???!!!?"
- Throat-Slashing Crotchety Old Hillbillies: All three were sort of funny in their own way (and really, have you ever seen a more succinct throat slash than the one Billy C pulled out to that ref against Oklahoma in 2005?), but all three also indicated that Callahan was still a pro guy and not a college one. Callahan only publicly acknowledged doing one of these (dropping the "Fuckin' Hillbillies" line at OU in 2004) and denied the other two. No matter, all three distanced himself from Nebraskans even further.
- I mean this is still where people come to make it. It's a beautiful idea: The 2006 season is the one where Callahan could have had it all and withstood 2007. He had his guy, Zac Taylor, running the show. Taylor would go on to be named Big 12 Player of the Year, but all Billy C cared about, all he ever even talked about, was winning the Big 12 North. And clearly now, that's all he wanted to do. Because he sure as shit didn't care about beating an Oklahoma team in Kansas City that was ripe for the picking. And then he didn't show that "fortitude" against Auburn on January 1st in the Cotton Bowl. If he would have just figured a way to win one of those games (I prefer beating Oklahoma and then getting that prime time game in a BCS game against Bosie State), his time at Nebraska looks a lot better. Remember how damn happy everyone was, how happy HE was, when he beat Michigan in the previous year's bowl game (which somehow was the most watched bowl game in cable television history)? So even a nice win in the Cotton Bowl, which was CLEARLY there, would have bought all sorts of good will. But I guess winning the Big 12 North is enough.
- The Sad Part About All of This Is You Don't Even Give a Shit: Many have been impressed at what they call Billy C's "fortitude", especially during this trying season, especially after Stevie P got the axe. Come on! As much as I've defended the little guy, and even enjoyed having him to kick around, he goes to bed every night, reminding his wife, "The worst that's going to happen is they're going to fire me and cut us a check for over $3 million, so it's not that bad." So don't expect any post-firing presser from the guy, hell don't expect him to give an interview with some local reporter or even release a statement (OK, he MIGHT release some sore of salesman statement through his agent), but when TO pops a cap in him, Bill Callahan will be done, and forever at the college level. No more pencils, no more books.