Former Wisconsin assistant Bill Callahan has been named the next head football coach at the University of Nebraska, replacing the recently fired Frank Solich. After a coaching search that reportedly included rejections from Arkansas? Houston Nutt, Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Al Saunders, the Cornhuskers turned to Callahan, who was fired as head coach of the Oakland Raiders following the 2003 season.
?I knew in my heart that Nebraska was an ideal situation from a professional and a personal standpoint,? Callahan said. ?Nebraska has all the components and elements of a rich tradition and history that was so appealing to me in this decision-making process. I?ve always respected the college game, particularly the passion and love the players have for the game. One of Nebraska?s greatest traditions, of course, is its fans and the incredible sellout streak in Memorial Stadium. Having spent 15 years in the college ranks, I know that there truly is no place like Nebraska.?
The 47-year-old Callahan served as offensive line coach for Barry Alvarez?s Badgers from 1990 to 1994. During his tenure, UW produced seven All-Big Ten offensive linemen. The 1993 Badgers defeated UCLA in the Rose Bowl.
?Bill was an original member of the staff I started with at Wisconsin in 1990,? Alvarez said of his former assistant. ?He was instrumental in helping to turn our program around as our offensive line coach in the early 1990s. Bill is tenacious, hard-working and meticulous. He is a tremendous coach and recruiter.?
Callahan is the 27th head coach in the history of the Nebraska football program.
?I?m very pleased for Bill and his family,? said Alvarez, who played at Nebraska from 1965 to 1967. ?They will be a good fit for Lincoln and the University of Nebraska.?
Callahan, who played quarterback at Illinois Benedictine College, got his coaching start as an associate coach at the University of Illinois in 1980. He later coached the Illini special teams and tight ends, offensive line and quarterbacks before moving on to Northern Arizona.
After a one-year stop at Southern Illinois as offensive line coach, Callahan joined Alvarez?s staff. He left Wisconsin in 1995 to become the offensive line coach of the NFL?s Philadelphia Eagles.
When Jon Gruden left Philadelphia in 1998 to become the head coach of the Oakland Raiders, Callahan went with him, accepting the position of offensive coordinator. He took over as head coach of the Raiders March 12, 2002, after Gruden was lured away by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In his rookie season he led the 11-5 Raiders to Super Bowl XXXVII, where they lost to Gruden and the Buccaneers.
?Coach Bill Callahan is a rare find,? Nebraska athletic director Steve Pederson said when introducing Callahan to the media. ?As a Super Bowl coach, a top-level recruiter, and an experienced coach on the college level, he has all the ingredients to continue the consistent success that typifies Nebraska. As I talked to football people from around the country, the name Bill Callahan is held in very high esteem. We are excited he is here, and I am happy to work with him to continue the success of this program.?
Upon taking the reins in Lincoln, Callahan fired six assistant coaches: defensive coordinator and interim head coach Bo Pelini, offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Barney Cotton, wide receivers coach Ron Brown, secondary coach Marvin Sanders, special teams and defensive line coach Jeff Jamrog, running backs coach Tim Albin and linebackers coach Jimmy Williams.