If Billy C is trying to get work, he's either keeping things very hush-hush, or he can't even get arrested. The Bobby Petrino situation isn't doing him any favors, as word is that the NFL is completely closing it's doors to anyone resembling a college football coach, at least for now. Billy C's going to have do the hard sell on how he was never a college guy, just a pro coach looking for a job back in 2004. And we all know how that shit turned out.
The day TO popped a cap in Billy C's ass and all of Nebraska popped more champagne bottles than the 1972 Miami Dolphins team after the final undefeated team loses, the thinking beyond "Good Riddance" was that Callahan would surely land in the NFL as an offensive coordinator. That's still possible, but do a Google News Search on Bill Callahan, and the most recent articles that come up date back to November 25th (when TO officially fired him) or the most recent articles that listed the highest paid state employees. In other words, the state of Nebraska cut the cord extremely fast, pushed Callahan out of the airplane without a parachute with no concern on where he'd land, and opened their arms to all things Bo Pelini.
You can't drive anywhere in the state without seeing signs that say, "Welcome Home Coach Pelini" or "Bo Knows Football." Before Pelini could even assemble a staff -- and he still has to go out and find a running backs coach, a very big hire -- he was anointed savior of a falling program.
Then he hired his staff, and some are calling it a mixed bag. Let's look:
- The Stars In The Making: Keeping Shawn Watson as Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks coach was a brilliant move. This doesn't mean Pelini's going to keep the WCO and that 800 pound playbook, it just shows that Pelini recognizes that when the offense worked, as it did sporadically with Sam Keller and often times brilliantly with Joe Ganz, it can really be something. I also like the addition of the young kids to the staff, including the aforementioned Ekeler, who was born to coach linebackers (that group will be a wild, unruly, fly-to-the-football bunch and Memorial Stadium is going to love them), and John Papuchis to look over the defensive ends. Both Papuchis and Ekeler are coming with Pelini from LSU. You know these two can win on the defensive side of things.
- The "OK, After Looking At This, Makes All the Sense in the World": Pelini also kept Ted Gilmore as Assistant Head Coach/Wide Receivers/Recruiting Coordinator (and even gave him an increase in pay). In other words, Pelini is keeping the few really good things Callahan did during his 4-year term. Remember, under Billy C's watch, he did expand the recruiting base in a huge way, and brought in Wide Receivers (we're looking at you, Maurice Purify) who would never even think of visiting Nebraska on a recruiting trip. Older brother Carl Pelini is officially the defensive coordinator, and where's old Carl been spending his Saturdays for the past 3 years? Well, with Frank Solich and the Ohio Bobacats of course. Hmmm, it's like 2003 all over again...
- The Blues Brothers Hires ("We're Putting the Band Back Together"/"We're On A Mission From God"): Bo went back to 2003 to find old buddies from his only year as a Nebraska assistant. Pelini was just a LITTLE to quick to open the doors back to Ron Brown, who's been away from coaching altogether the past four years. Brown famously likes to preach religion down everyone's throat, including going on television and talking about what a great football player Jesus would be, how he'd "tackle hard, run through defenses, he'd do it all." (Actually Ron, if Jesus were a football player, he'd probably be that good and decide to go to USC, then play in the NFL where he'd set all sorts of rushing records. In other words, he'd be O. J. Simpson.) Brown was formerly the receivers coach under Osborne's watch, and now he'll be in charge of the...Tight Ends??? Also coming back from that 2003 team is Barney Cotton, now in charge of the offensive line. I can't quite figure Cotton out. He did do wonders during his two years running the offense at Iowa State. But it's not like Iowa State ever won anything big during that time. Then there's Marvin Sanders, the one guy from the 2003 staff who it made perfect sense to bring back. Sanders' is again in charge of the defensive backs, and if you look back to 2003, the Nebraska secondary was perhaps the best part of that entire squad. Sanders found a way for Sophomore Josh Bullocks to be named All-American. Marvin will be expected to do wonders again, and the thinking is he'll do just that.
It's a mix of the old, the new and the Callahan. All that matters to anyone in Nebraska is that The Invisible Billy C is nowhere to be found, now or anywhere in the future.