Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Nebraska/Oklahoma Week, Part 2


The 10-year Anniversary of the 1995 Nebraska Cornhusker Football team, considered by many to be the greatest college football team ever, served as the backdrop for another "classic" moment in the Nebraska/Oklahoma "rivalry". Even though the game featured future NFL phenom Adrian Peterson, it's mostly remembered for a coach going to the throat slash card on national television and spending the rest of the following week denying that it ever happened.

Oh but it did, Billy C, it did.

2005 -- Oklahoma 31, Nebraska 24: Two years after this game, some Nebraska fans would look you in the eye with all seriousness, and argue about how this game should go down as a Nebraska victory. There was some merit to this, as in July, 2007, the NCAA ordered Oklahoma to "vacate" all of it's 2005 victories. That decisions was wisely overturned in February of this year, because seriously there's nothing worse than having Husker Fan swear up and down that they should have had an extra victory in 2005. You just can't win that argument.

Neither could Callahan, after acting surprised at anyone who brought up the "throat slash" he blatantly did during the 4th quarter of this game against the Sooners. My favorite part of that short video clip is seeing Kevin Cosgrove walk up to Callahan, trying to look interested with that playbook stuffed smack down the middle of his pants. It might have been the only time Grover acted inspired all day.

The Sooners did have Adrian Peterson, who would run for 146 yards against Cosgrove's complex traps. Nebraska had Cory Ross gaining 21 yards on 10 carries. The Huskers did also discover that they had a real find though at Quarterback in Junior College Transfer Zac Taylor. Billy C would ask Taylor to put the ball in the air 45 times against Stoops and Company. And Nate Swift, who THIS year is setting all sorts of career receiving records, had 9 catches for 116 yards. So things were actually looking up for Callahan and company.

But the idea is to actually win the game, something the Huskers couldn't do after falling behind by 21 points. For the 2nd straight year against their hated "rivals", Husker fan would have to be content in their team not backing down.

And for the 2nd year in a row, they'd have to come to terms with another bizarre incident involving their head coach.

Of course, this being just year 2 of the Callahan Experiment, defending Callahan came rather easily to some Husker fans (look at some of these old comments on that you tube video for proof, most of them say, "That's how I reacted after that play" or something like that). It wasn't the Throat Slash itself that caused such a ruckus. Watch the video again. Callahan actually catches himself first a few seconds before going through with the gesture. Which means he had a brief moment of clarity where he KNEW he shouldn't pull off that gesture. Then he said, "Oh, fuck it", and went ahead and did it anyway.

Again, this part defines Callahan at Nebraska. There was that little part of him that knew somebody would see this, or it would cost his team a penalty, or golly, that Osborne fellow is actually here at the game celebrating some team from 10 years ago and he certainly wouldn't tolerate this behavior. And then there was the "Oh, fuck it" part of Billy C. We'll admit, sometimes that "Oh, fuck it" part was what wanted us to see if he couldn't actually work out with Nebraska longer. Because sometimes the "Oh, fuck it" card comes in handy.

But then Callahan had to face his weekly comrades at this Tuesday Press Conference. By then, the video was everywhere. The game was nationally televised on ABC. It was Oklahoma/Nebraska, which always gets attention no matter how badly the teams are playing. The very first question Billy C was asked on Tuesday was about that video posted above.

"What throat slash?" Callahan responded. "I don't remember any throat slash. What are you talking about."

If only we could find the audio of that press conference. The tone in Callahan's voice compared to what Pelini's been offering on a weekly basis this season. The difference is just remarkable. Callahan knows he's lying when he says this, knows it's out there, and you can just hear it in his voice. But somehow, he flat out denies it ever happened.

Nebraska would go on to their first Bowl Game under Callahan that season, beating a pretty good Michigan team in a rather entertaining Alamo Bowl. In Billy C's eyes, it was a successful season. Maybe even a sign that things were on the right track.

Yet Callahan's eyes don't think that throat slash ever happened. Which is fine, because thousands of Husker Fans are still getting to sleep at night convincing themselves that Bill Callahan, Head Coach, Nebraska Football, never happened either. .