Team preview: Nebraska

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(All information as of July 1, 2006)


When the decision was made to hire Bill Callahan at Nebraska in 2004, school administrators knew they were breaking the mold of traditional ground-oriented coaches. They knew Callahan would build -- or attempt to build -- a competent passing game through the West Coast offense.

They also knew that Callahan was not going to bring in a typical college football coach's personality either. While he takes care of all media and alumni functions and will do what he can to raise funds, Callahan does not have a Bobby Bowden-type personality. He is not the kind to regale listeners with humorous stories. Callahan is all business.

That's just fine in Lincoln, where football sits on a throne so ornate and huge that it would be impossible to topple. Nebraska supporters really aren't interested in having a coach who cares more about dispensing one-liners than he is in building a dominant football team. Callahan is all business all the time. But as he enters his third season, he is starting to grow more comfortable in Lincoln and is even starting to let the walls come down a bit.

"I think he's letting people in a little more," said Jim Rose, Nebraska's radio play-by-play announcer. "When you've been through some of what he's been through, I just think he became very cautious about who he could trust, about who was really looking out for him and who was really on board. Now he's been able to size that up."

Building a winning team, of course, is not merely enough at Nebraska. Fans are tough but fair in Lincoln. They will love you if you can bring them a national championship. They will disown you if you give them any other results.

The demanding nature of the Nebraska infrastructure combined with Callahan's determined (some say aloof) personality could eventually sow the seeds for some difficult days. But right now, Callahan's determination and desire to win with the West Coast offense is having a positive impact.