Kill Bill, Season 1?
More like thrilled with Bill (Callahan), whose NFL pedigree has the Plains pumped
By Vince Kuppig
Change is everywhere here at Nebraska, and thank God for that. After the mess of the Frank Solich firing and the turbulent search process, criticisms of athletic director Steve Pederson have finally started to subside. A crowd of 61,417 attended last Saturday's annual spring game at Memorial Stadium to see what changes new coach Bill Callahan, who only two years ago led the Oakland Raiders to the Super Bowl, had implemented.
The whole offense has been revamped; the Cornhuskers' option attack has been ditched in favor of the West Coast offense. The walk-on program has been downsized -- Callahan cut the roster from 170 players to approximately 120. Practices are run like Pardon the Interruption -- Callahan breaks them down into five-minute stations and strictly adheres to the schedule.
The players, who were put through a winter conditioning like they had never seen here in Lincoln, are stoked. "This year it's been especially upbeat," says junior Steve Kriewald, who will likely be the starting fullback. "Everybody wants to prove that he can play and fit into the new offense."
The new and improved Huskers could win 10 games next season. Wait, they did that last season.
This Cat's Good
Stoops in, Mackovic out: Life is sweet at Arizona
A new era of Wildcats football doesn't officially begin until Sept. 4, but the consensus after spring workouts can be summed up simply: It's about time Arizona stoops to a new level, as in Mike Stoops. The first-year head coach straight outta Soonerville has lofty expectations of resuscitating a program that is a decade removed from having a pulse. He left big bro Bob's Oklahoma regime to inherit a program fresh off a 2-10 record and reeling from the unceremonious dismissal of coach John Mackovic at midseason.
Stoops's first task under the Tucson sun: convince the NCAA to allow senior offensive lineman and NFL prospect Brandon Phillips a sixth year of eligibility.
Check. Phillips is back.
Second: Erase the memory of the aloof Mackovic, whose detachment bred contempt.
Check. Lining up with defensive backs and tossing passes with signal-callers -- on Day 1 of spring ball -- helped to foster spotless minds in this land of eternal sunshine.
Third: the Rose Bowl. Arizona is the only Pac-10 team never to have played in the granddaddy of 'em all. If Stoops leads the Cats to Pasadena, he can write his own, uh, check. --Brett Fera
Brett Fera, a journalism major, is a staff writer for the Arizona Daily Wildcat. Vince Kuppig, a news-editorial major, is the sports editor at the Daily Nebraskan.
Issue date: April 22, 2004