Mention "Bill Callahan" to a Husker fan nowadays, and you are likely to get an unfavorable reaction. People remember a 60 point loss to Texas Tech, Kansas and the quotes that rubbed every Husker fan the wrong way. Heck, the Sporting News recently named Callahan as one of the worst coaches ever. And it's all true about Bill Callahan, the head football coach. Maybe even Bill Callahan, the offensive coordinator, as well. But Bill Callahan didn't get promoted to those positions because he was an idiot; the man had an impressive track record in college and in the NFL as an assistant coach. After leaving Lincoln, Callahan returned to his roots ... and has found success and happiness as a result.
Those that follow the NFL have noticed, and the accolades for Bill Callahan have been rolling in. It started on a Monday Night Football broadcast where Jon Gruden showered Callahan with praise. Peter King named Callahan as his "assistant coach of the year".
Wait a minute. Wasn't Bill Callahan a "clusterfool" at Nebraska? How do we reconcile this praise with the suckage that was Nebraska football under Callahan?
Easy. Bill Callahan's strengths became weaknesses when he ascended to the position of head coach. At his heart, Callahan is a technician, a detail-driven man who obsesses about the finer elements. In his role as an offensive line coach in the NFL, coaching eight offensive linemen in five offensive positions, that's one thing to focus on. Expand his responsbility to a roster of 120 players playing 24 positions, and suddenly "detail-driven" becomes "micromanaging".
Matt Slauson recognizes the difference, telling the New York Times that he's learned more in one season from Bill Callahan, the Jets offensive line coach, than he ever did from Bill Callahan, Nebraska head football coach. The job requirements for a college head coach are quite a bit different than the requirements for a NFL assistant coach. Sure, both require a fundamental understanding of the game of football, but college requires a coach to be part general manager, marketer, public relations, president, and CEO. Bill Callahan's failure as a head coach doesn't mean that he's a failure as a football coach; it just means he couldn't make that transition to the next level. And that's not a bad thing. Bill's found peace and success in New York with the Jets. Nebraska has found peace and success with Bo Pelini taking over. Pelini has seemed to master much more of the job requirements of being a college head coach than Callahan ever did, though he still struggles with some of it. Pelini also has the advantage of having a legendary head coach as athletic director, helping steer him away from potholes and helping him adjust to the additional responsibilities.
New York Jets fans are pleased that Bill Callahan is a success as the Jets offensive line coach. Bill Callahan seems pleased with his success as well. That's something that Husker fans should be pleased with as well.