What we know is, that it's the day Athletic Director Tom Osborne will meet with the football coaches to "evaluate" them and let them know just what their future status on this team will be.
You can call it a meeting to discuss performance over what Osborne has seen himself. Others might call the whole thing simply a small matter of house cleaning before the new staff takes over the team.
I would say, however, that it would be a bit presumptuous and maybe even a little naïve to think that as goes Bill Callahan, so goes the rest of this staff. You could make an argument for at least a few of the assistants to stay:
Offensive Coordinator and Quarterback Coach Shawn Watson is by all accounts, a player's coach, an incredibly bright guy and by his own admission, most of what he knows about the west coast offense, he learned from Bill Callahan himself. He understands what about this system works, what might not and what could be just too complicated for the college game, if anything. He's intensely popular as well, it would seem, and that's above and beyond the current players and staff. I'm not saying that he is a head coaching candidate, though, I could see an argument there. But you could definitely make a solid argument for him being THE O.C. of the team.
Defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt has hardly had a chance to prove if he does or doesn't belong. He's had basically one year to take a green defensive line, and try and duplicate the results put together by the previous line, which had 56 games in starting experience. Going into this season, only Ndamukong Suh had actually started a game at the position they play right now.
And in my own mind, if the defensive line isn't doing the job, your entire defense becomes an 11-man moot point.
Unlike the second and third level on defense, the line is the one area where every single play you are attempting to dictate to the offense. Whether you are trying to get pressure on the QB, create containment so they don't get outside of the tackles or just stop the run, the defensive line is the most offensive position on that side of the ball. It's the job of those behind them to take advantage of their successes, whether it's being able to blitz in open gaps or being able to shade outside the box, because the inside is in good shape as far as stopping the offense. Your job is to take care of the other perceived weaknesses.
When the line can't do that, whether it's from a lack of experience, talent, depth, speed, size or whatever, it effects everyone else. And the trickle down affect might as well be a deluge, and I think we have seen a prime example of that this year.
The thing is, Wyatt has had to take that and make it work, despite some of the obvious obstacles, and that doesn't include Kevin Dixon having to take the starting spot at defensive tackle far sooner than he was expected to, because Ty Steinkuhler got hurt.
How can you judge someone simply based on that? Wyatt certainly didn't come in with this staff, so any preconceived notions about there being ties that bind, shouldn't even be a consideration. I don't believe the reason he was hired away from Alabama should be diminished by his first year with the big red. If three years isn't enough for a head coach to prove his worth, one year shouldn't be even close to enough time for a position coach to show what he can do.
Receivers coach Ted Gilmore is another who shouldn't be dismissed haphazardly, because he worked with Watson at Colorado . He understands this offense, up-and-down and while we can sit and quibble about receivers dropping balls, you also can't dismiss just how much this group of wideouts has excelled, even in many catch-up situations. It shouldn't even be a consideration for wide receivers, because they aren't the quarterback and shouldn't feel as much of the burden to win the game on every play.
But all players press when the chips are down, no matter what side of the ball you are on. It's expected that when the defense can't stop anyone, there isn't a player on offense who isn't going to at least try to go above and beyond their normal duties to try and make something happen. Sometimes it works, but often it just results in mistakes, which could be considered the theme of this season.
I think you could make an argument for Offensive Line Coach Dennis Wagner, too. He's certainly got a load of talent now and you can't argue with the statistics the team has posted over the last few years. During Zac Taylor's first season, the junior college transfer might as well have replaced " Taylor " on the back of his jersey with "Piñata", because that's basically what he was. But the complicated pass-protection schemes have been sinking in. That along with the experienced veterans who are invaluable in respect to what they can do with the younger players, this line has only gotten better.
One might argue that the running game isn't as good as it has been. I would say, though, that you could argue that there's no respect for Nebraska's ability to run inside anymore, because their go-to-guy Marlon Lucky, isn't at all dominant on the inside. Based on what we have seen, you might be inclined never to run him inside at all. And Cody Glenn, whether it's injuries or whatever, his ability to be able to run inside and effectively, has diminished along with his playing time. Then there's Quentin Castille, who can run inside with the best of them, is great at yards after contact, but he's been woefully inconsistent when it comes to just holding onto the ball.
If teams don't respect the inside running game and Lucky's primary use is in the perimeter run-game or being utilized as a receiver coming out of the backfield, it's going to be almost impossible to establish anything of relevance and consistency at the line.
Joe Rudolph seems to be a popular coach, and he's obviously a young coach. And from everything we heard about him even before he arrived to Nebraska from Ohio State , this is a guy who many said was going to shine one day. The argument against him is that he came to Nebraska with offensive line experience as a player and a G.A., but he's been coaching tight ends for the last year. You never rule out potential and sports fans appreciate upside, but is there enough to rationalize making him an assistant coach right now?
He's also a good recruiter, and if someone were to keep a coach just based on their recruiting, safeties coach Bill Busch would be "N." The guy is a recruiting machine. The issues of tackling fundamentals have been well-chronicled with the safeties, however, and some of that has to come back to the coach. Now, I don't know about that aspect. Missed tackles are one thing, but if they are or aren't attributable solely to the coach, I simply can't say. Logic would tell you that between the players not doing their job and a coach not teaching them everything they need to know, the line usually lies somewhere in the middle. But again, he's a recruiting machine. You could literally put his face on a billboard in Arizona , because he almost owns the place in regard to how many kids he can pull out of that state and get to come to a seasonal climate like Nebraska .
It's obvious the greatest changes will come on defense, if there is a picking and choosing of who to keep and who should go. Whether it's more the players or the coaches, you don't get ranked last or second to last in the country in total defense by accident.
I don't believe that anyone feels that Nebraska is so talent-deprived that they are almost 40 points worse than Kansas . I'd say that many think, despite the lopsided losses, that Nebraska is at least as talented as almost every team which beat them by double-digits, if not all.
in addition, based on what Joe Ganz has done and what we have seen receivers do in this fairly wide open attack, I can't imagine how anyone couldn't be optimistic about the future, should this system remain fairly intact. Yes, you can evolve this into a spread without a lot of thinking. And it's pretty easy how someone with perhaps a running mind-set could have a pretty easy segue as well. But the talent is there, the potential is there and we have seen at times, some of the obvious results.
And yes, there is recruiting.
Head Coaches may be the face of the program and they may be the closer in recruiting situations or the person who makes the biggest impression on official visits. But they aren't the guys doing the recruiting. The everyday grind of recruiting is done by assistants.
It's those assistants who practically lived on the road during the May Evaluation Period. It's those assistants who make six out of the seven allowed in-home visits to recruits once the season begins. It's those assistants who initiate, develop and cement the relationship with both the recruit and their parents. I have always maintained that losing the head coach affects recruiting, but losing the assistants grinds it to a halt.
Unfortunately, both are conjoined at the proverbial hip.
If you want to know how all of this translates to recruiting, the situation with the head coach means a lot. But it's the future of those assistants which will mean that much more in the end. Realistically, and this is obviously hypothetical, if Bill Callahan was the only one to lose his job and all the other assistants stayed, I can't see a single reason why any of the recruits would decommit and many of those who already have, wouldn't come back.
But this is about more than one class, regardless of how good. This is about every class after this, hopefully for another 20 years. Nobody likes coaching carousels, but Nebraska has found itself in one for almost the last decade. Whether it's assistants or the head coach, there's no continuity at the top, no chemistry in the middle and you can bet that every team eventually reflects the coaches whom they play for.
There are a lot of great arguments for some of these assistants to stay, but if the head coach changes, it's going to be up to the next head coach to keep some or let all of them go. An A.D. will certainly make recommendations, but there aren't many coaches who would even think of taking the Nebraska job if they didn't have complete power on selecting who their staff would be.
I could see a head coach, no matter if it was Pelini, Gill, Johnson, Grobe or whomever, wanting to wipe the slate clean. But I can just as easily see them realizing that in some of these guys, they have a much better situation with them on the team than without them. Some of them could be a real backbone for this team for the future.