Welcome Bill, but one question.....

The beginning of a new era. What? Again? Yes, just six years removed from the last new era, another one starts at the University of Nebraska. Like no other change in NU's last forty years though, there's going to be a lot more new about what's in store for the Huskers than just a coach. No option? West Coast Offense? Is Nebraska really moving towards the modern-age? Yes. Now, let's see if it leads to wins.

I wonder when coach Callahan first thought of Nebraska and the fact that he might be in Lincoln, what crossed his mind about the famed and traditional offense of NU. Did he shudder, wondering how long it would be to have the type of players it takes for a west coast attack? Did he wonder if the fans could accept something so familiar to anyone else, but decidedly foreign to the followers of the big red?

Probably a little of the former, but none of the latter, because it comes down to one simple rule. If wins come as the result of whatever offense you are running, nobody will even blink at the methodology.

Oh, I can hear you now. You are saying, 'darn, the guy just got here and you aren't even letting him get settled before going on about this and that'. That's right. Callahan is hired, he's had his press conference so now the honeymoon is officially over. It's time to get down to work.

For the next three weeks, Callahan's noted work ethic will be sorely tested. He's going to interview the current assistants on Monday, sit down with Scott Downing to cover what's up with recruiting this week as well, hit the phones to the commits first, talk to the recruits NU has the best shot at, figure out who they still might have a shot at, hire assistants as needed, get to know the other two-thirds of the team he didn't meet initially and he still has to find a place to live.

If all that isn't enough, Callahan still has to take his compliance test before most of that so he can hit the road for recruiting, try and see if there are any other recruits that he can evaluate at least a little and his family has to get officially moved into Lincoln. Oh, and of course, there's the media.

I didn't envy Frank Solich when he took over for a legend even with the cupboard mostly full. I envy Callahan even less though, because he may not be directly following a national title, but that's still what's expected and his cupboard is anything but brimming with playmakers across the board.

Let's not forget that not very long from now, there's this little thing about a Spring scrimmage that Nebraska has every year. New system, new ideas, the thoughts of what this event could look like on the field has me thinking of either what you get when you cross the Bad News Bears with any Baylor football team or what it looks like when you take one of the most successful option teams in football history and run an offense that a QB like Drew Bledsoe feels quite at home in.

No way.

I can hear the Husker extremists now. They don't see or realize the ever-changing trend in the NFL, so when they think west coast offense, first thing that comes to mind is some plodding-lead-footed gunslinger who is about as elusive and quick as Pete Rose is honest and contrite.

What's going on in the NFL is the evolution of the QB. Really, it's every position, but the quarterbacks of yesterday like a Drew Bledsoe or a Tom Brady, they are fast becoming relics of the game. The pure passer is becoming a thing of the past, the up and comers at the position just as able to throw as their predecessors, but throwing in a good deal more out of the pocket potential.

While some people think about Michael Vick when they dream of what they want in a quarterback in the pros, they still end up thinking they are going to get Bernie Kosar. Yes, Kosar was good, but do you remember how hard it was for Dan Marino to get around towards the end of his career, so many injuries and surgeries on his legs taking their toll? Even when he retired, he was still faster than Bernie.

Nope, it won't be Bernie and probably won't be another version of Michael, but the kind of QB NU has in Joe Dailey probably isn't far off (if at all) from the kind of guy that Callahan will want. You only have to look to Callahan's former QB at Oakland to see that, even if his running ability isn't really all that comparable to J.D. Rich Gannon, the forty-year old veteran of the NFL, he's not as fast or as mobile as he used to be, but Gannon would definitely not fit your typical stereotype of what a 'pure passer' is, yet he passed well enough to earn the NFL MVP but a year ago.

Ok, so we know what Callahan has to do and in a very brief amount of time. We also know that Nebraska fans will find themselves having to adjust to a whole new way of doing things. But, that isn't all that Nebraska fans will have to get out of their mind.

The whining.

Yes, that's right and I am not talking about wins and losses or stuff like that. I am talking about recruiting. No more will any fans be able to complain that because of Nebraska's antiquated offense and the fact that nobody in the pros runs it, the prep-elite will not come to NU. No longer can they find that as an excuse, even though it doesn't seem to have hurt Nebraska all that much in the last forty years.

Face it folks, it's not the system that brings players in, it's the coaches, the tradition, the fan-base and the future. Most kids want to win and look good doing it, but like the old saying goes, 'if you are good, you are good', and someone is going to notice. I just want fans to prepare themselves to find a different excuse to complain.

Fan will complain? No, say it isn't so. Yes, Bill Callahan will be welcomed if he hasn't already been. Fans will adjust to him, warm to him and by the beginning of the next season, he'll be the man that will bring Nebraska back to dominance.

That's how fans comfort themselves in times of uncertainty. They find anything and everything they can to rationalize hope. Reality does say that hope is not out of the question, but let's not put the cart before the horse. The first year, it's probably not going to be pretty.

As Husker fans have become accustomed to in recent years, the offense isn't going to look all that pretty. In fact, it could be pretty darn ugly at first. The defense will have all the advantages, so expect the same theme you've been hearing for a couple of years now. It will change though, of that you can be sure.

As with any new coach, you never know what you are going to get. When it's more than one coach, there's even less certainty. Ok, so let's replace all of if not most of the staff. That equals, hold onto your britches, because it's going to be a bumpy ride. Lots of ups and downs, probably more downs at first, but with anything, time is what matters.

It's an exciting time to be a Husker fan. While Husker fans are used to enjoying the kind of comfort you get from knowing everything that is going on and expecting much of the same year to year, the dramatic change that is about to take place for some is a breath of fresh air. It's a chance to reinvigorate that fire in their belly, a chance to get on that bandwagon again.

It's another new era for Nebraska football. One that will exhibit changes as dramatic as any, any Husker fan has ever seen.

Does that lead to wins? Do I get hardware with this metamorphosis? That's all that matters in the end.

Welcome Bill Callahan, glad to have you aboard. Pretty impressive resume, but just one question.

What have you done for me lately?

Steve Ryan can be reached at huskerconnection@neb.rr.com or 402-730-5619


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