Bill Callahan and Bo Pelini: A Study in Contrast

Bleacher ReportAnalyst INovember 11, 2008

This will be the first installment of a two-part series, the second coming tomorrow.

Two men, one program. One that apparently could never quite get a handle on what it meant to be the head coach at Nebraska and another that appears to fully grasp the responsibility that he has. It's early in the Bo Pelini era, and records notwithstanding, but it's not to early to examine a few distinct differences in the program.

We have all seen it by now from Pelini. The raw emotion, the glare, the personality that makes Pelini who he is. Pelini has been criticized in the mainstream media and by some Nebraska fans for his at times abrasive sideline demeanor with assistant coaches, players, and referees.

You know what, though? That emotion, that energy, that passion and that fire indicate one very important fact. That Pelini cares. That care rubs off on his players, his assistants and can greatly influence how hard the players play on the field.

At times in Bill Callahan's tenure, it appeared that he didn't care that Nebraska was being embarrassed on a regular basis.  Good case in point...  After a particular poor showing in 2007 Bill Callahan stated in post game press conference, "I am doing great in all areas."  Well, the on field performance says something different about that Bill.

In contrast to that we have Pelini after Nebraska got embarrassed by Missouri saying things like, "I didn't coach them well enough" and "I am the head coach and all responsibility for on field performance lays with me and my coaching staff." Nice move by Pelini.

Which coach do you think the players are likely to play harder for? Easy answer I think.

Callahan also seemed almost apathetic about the defensive struggles that Nebraska experienced in 2007. I think this is largely a condition of his arrogance as an offensive coordinator. In his mind, he just thought, "Well, I don't need no stinking defense, I am an offensive genius and I will just outscore the other team!!"

A couple final scores from 2007; KU 76, NU 39 and CU 65, NU 51 could be misconstrued as basketball scores if the reader didn't know it was a football game.

Callahan apparently never got the memo in his coaching career that it sometimes helps to have an effective defensive coordinator and defense. 

Under Callahan it also appears that Nebraska didn't respond well to adversity. In 17 games that they trailed at half time, Nebraska had a 0-17 record. 

Much of this was more an indicator of Callahans' defensive coordinator, Kevin Cosgrove refusing to make any adjustments to game plans. Cosgrove was willing to go out on his sword with his defensive plan. Well, you did that didn't you Kevin?

Under Pelini and staff, the Cornhuskers have already broken that string, as they came from behind after half time to beat Baylor and Robert Griffin.

Part two tomorrow.