Pederson press conference hits the right keys

The only thing shocking about today was when I got into my car amidst the 105 degree temperature and put my hands on the steering wheel. Other than that, everything else was about as anticlimactic as you could get. So, Barry Collier it out, now officially the new Athletic Director at Butler. Now what?


 As Athletic Director Steve Pederson addressed the media with Executive Associate Athletic Director Mark Boehm sitting beside him, the questions, which would be thrown out with great frequency were as interested in Collier's departure as most have become interested in the Nebraska basketball program itself.


That is to say that Barry Collier leaving, while certainly a blow as far as timing, seems to have drawn about as much real interest as all those times Nebraska played in the NCAA tournament while he was the head coach.


Yeah, you get the point.


What was of interest, though, and you'd have to say it is intense, isn't about him leaving, but who will be there to over the job.


That brings up the irony of this press conference, at least for me, in that as Steve Pederson read from his script, he addressed what I thought was every single criticism he received during the much maligned coaching search to replace the fired Frank Solich.


People complained that the A.D. didn't keep anyone informed, basically keeping this search to himself, the one-man committee slated to address the dire situation with the bread and butter program of the University. To that end Pederson addressed in detail just how this process would begin, actually stating what he called his "outline" would be in regard to just what was to occur.


Let us outline the process we will go through to select a new men's basketball coach, Pederson said. "We have already begun the process of identifying the very best candidates for the University of Nebraska.  We will use every possible resource available to find the right person.  We will most likely enlist the help of a firm that specializes in athletic related searches to help with the process."


"I will lead the search, assisted by Marc Boehm, and we will keep Chancellor Perlman fully informed on the progress of the search, he continued. "Ultimately, Chancellor Perlman will interview the finalists and we will make our recommendation to him for our next coach."


Another criticism of the search for a football was that when it seemed he had put all of his options into one coach (Current Pitt head coach Dave Wanstedt), he wasn't prepared to look for another, prompting what was consider a slew of offers, which were all turned down until Bill Callahan accepted the position.


Pederson addressed at least the potential situation, where it's likely that they will be talking to many coaches during this particular time period. "We would also note that talking with a coach does not mean that we are offering them a job," he said. "We plan to do a lot of talking with people to determine the right fit.  It may be that after discussions we will decide it is not the right fit, or that after talking, the coach will determine that it is not the right fit."


And perhaps the most crucial point of those criticisms were inspired from Pederson's seeming attempt at not just keeping the process to himself, but making himself the only part who had any say in who Nebraska was looking at, what the timetable was and, of course, who ultimately got the job.


From his statements, which mentioned potentially hiring an outside firm to get the search underway to that of keeping University of Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Pearlman heavily involved, he would seem to have quieted any sort of speculation that, that philosophy would be repeated.


I guess you could call that "step one."


What's step two?


Actually finding someone and doing it in less than three weeks, the amount of time before the semester is officially underway. "The timing of this opening is unusual.  We hope top candidates will be available to move," Pederson said. "If the timing becomes a road block, we will look at possible interim solutions.  However, that is not our first priority."


The list of candidates will no doubt be long for the Nebraska A.D. Early names, who have made the list via popular opinion, are Nevada head coach Mark Fox and Kent State head coach Jim Christian. Christian was a one-time assistant to Ben Howland, the former head coach of Pitt and current head coach of the UCLA Bruins, who Pederson hired while he was the A.D. at Pitt, two years before he left for the University of Nebraska.


While the search goes on, Nebraska basketball recruiting will more than likely come to a screeching halt. While assistant coaches Jerome Francis Jr., Doug Novsek and Carlton Owens are still technically recruiting, with their own jobs likely soon to end, the actual effectiveness they will have as recruiters will more than likely be minimal……at best.


The good news, though, during all of this, at least from one player's standpoint is that while the head coach is gone, the future of the assistants uncertain, the rest of the team will remain. "I have talked to every single player on the team and nobody is talking about leaving," senior guard Charles Richardson said. "It's going to be a time for adjustment, but I think we'll be fine."


Richardson did say, though, that he hoped Nebraska would get a head coach soon and someone who would come in with a purpose. "I want a head coach who wants to win right now, because we want to win right now," he said. "We don't look at this like we want to wait a year for everything to settle down. We're here to win and we want to win this year, so I hope the head coach comes in with that kind of fire."


Considering the rather anti-climactic conclusion to this head coaching ordeal, it's logical to assume that Pederson and company have a firm list of candidates already in place. With that in mind, while the timing will continue to be a road block of sorts, it's not unreasonable to think that a solid coach is out there for the taking.


The Nebraska A.D. also said that when it came to financing the hiring of a new coach, they would be willing to pay to get the right coach in Lincoln.


With the Collier chapter closed, it's unsure if the hype around the Nebraska program will start to rise even without an official new head coach in place. But it is safe to say that the overall attitude toward the potential success of the program can't get much worse.


The next question to be answered will be pointed toward the issue of getting a "name" to come to Nebraska to instantly spark the team or getting someone who has the chance to develop that over time.


The good thing and one other issue that we can assume won't take place as it did with the football team is that there will be a lot of time to wait.


When the waiting is over, it's doubtful that anyone outside of the most diehard supporter will ring this in as a new era in the history of the basketball program. It may very well be that, but that's the good side of actually having the perception of being a sub par program. There isn't the pressure to win now. There isn't the intensity that comes with instantaneous post-season aspirations, along with the automatic assumption of conference dominance.


It's a come-as-you-are program, waiting for someone to take over and move Nebraska basketball beyond the status of being an afterthought to most Husker fans. The best thing for Husker fans, at least this time, though, is that Steve Pederson is finally deciding to take those fans along for the ride.

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