When you look at the candidates that we know of for the linebacker's position, there was certain irony in the final decision amounting to be equivalent to every decision made thus far, Bo Pelini being the only exception. Get a Nebraska guy. Why? Loyalty. Sure, Bo Pelini could be bound back for the pros with a larger role in a team's defensive philosophy and you don't want him taking everyone with him. But, this is what Nebraska has always done. Get guys you know, bring in guys you trust and that way, if they do prove to be worth their weight in ability, you've got the best of both worlds.
The problem with success in coaching is that unless it's at the highest level, that being a head coach in the NFL, those accomplishments could lead to this or that coach saying buh-bye to his current surroundings and heading off to where there is more green and more responsibility as well.
At Nebraska however, that just doesn't happen. Not with Nebraska guys. They don't leave. Once they become Nebraska guys or come back to a place they called home, that's it. End of story. They are here until they are either canned or retire. George Darlington for 30 years, Milt Tenopir for 29, Dan Young for 20 and both Ron Brown and Turner Gill turned down jobs at other places on several occasions, deciding to stick with the Big Red.
That's what coach Solich wants. He wants ability. He wants the best coach, but he's looking out for the future of the NU program. You don't just bring anyone off the street. You bring in people you can trust.
I equate the hiring of Bo Pelini as to getting a junior college player and not because he's going to add immediate depth, but because he's just that good. Bo Pelini is potentially so good in fact, he trumped all the usual criteria for getting coaches at NU. Forget Nebraska ties, this guy is the deal of the decade and no way do you turn down a chance to get him on your squad.
What the linebacker candidates didn't offer was that one guy that was like Pelini. So good, that it didn't matter where he came from or what he did prior, he was a shoe-in for the job. Not even the name Pelini was enough to get the job, because it would have had to come with something else, something more and yes, it would have had to been considerably better than Jimmy Williams in order for them to get the job.
Nobody had the resume' Jimmy Williams had. Fisher from Idaho has experience playing linebacker from his college days at Colorado, followed by a stint there as a G.A., subsequently ending up with the Idaho Vandals as the linebackers' coach. Coach Pelini's brother, Carl, played at Columbia, spent two years as an assistant at Cardinal Mooney high school in Youngstown, Ohio, followed by three years at Kansas State, two as a graduate assistant and one as a restricted earnings coach. Following that, he then became the head coach of Fitch high school in Austintown, Ohio where he presently serves.
Jimmy Williams started his college playing days as a walk-on at Nebraska. He went on to earn Big Eight player of the year in 1981, was a first round pick by the Detroit Lions and subsequently played 12 years in the NFL as a linebacker, 9 years with the Lions, being named the Lions' MVP one year and led all linebackers in the NFL with 5 interceptions. He followed that career up with a head coaching position, followed by a linebacker coaching position at two high schools. After that, was a defensive line coach for Division II, Grand Valley State, where three of Grand Valley's linemen earned All-Conference honors. His last pre-Nebraska job was last season with Toledo where he was once again the defensive line coach.
Well, there's little to say that a player can be a great coach, but Williams' resume' begs to be heard. And it was.
He got the job and the plus side, is that he does indeed have those Nebraska ties. Even better, this guy knows what it takes to play the linebacker position. Sure, you want attitude that the other candidates seemed to have. Yes, you want intelligence that all seemed very capable. But, take a look at the experience at the position and the level of play that each was demanded to excel, it's hands down, forget about it, let's move on, Jimmy Williams, welcome to the fold.
As per my last article, I took a look at the downside to this decision and how detrimental it might have been. In this article, we took a slight look at the other side of the coin. I know that some don't like unfinished arguments, which is precisely what separating two articles like this is construed as each in and of itself. The thing is, you can't have one without the other. You can't have the good without the bad. Doing them one at a time forces you to digest each with equal objectiveness.
So, after looking at two different points of view, what do I believe in the end? I'm not a coach. That's what I believe. I'm not a person who is near qualified enough to play judge, jury and executioner in a world that is beyond anything I can comprehend beyond the armchair of a la-z-boy or the keyboard of a desk. I look at what's on paper, look at recent moves by coach Solich and make my best pick as to what I think.
Jimmy Williams deserved this job and not because he was an NU guy, but because it looks like (on paper), he's the best guy for the job and what do you know, he's an NU guy to boot.
Frank Solich may not end up getting a lot of "credit" for NU's recent past, but he may end up being lauded over and over for NU's blossoming future.
Steve Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-730-5619