Callahan has to hit the ground running

Originally Published: January 9, 2004
By Tom Lemming | ESPN.com

Now that former Oakland Raiders head coach Bill Callahan has been named a coach at Nebraska, he'll have to hit the ground running.

The first thing he'll have to do is quickly reevaluate the old staff to find at least a couple of coaches with recruiting ability who can keep the already committed ballplayers and talk several other blue chippers into quickly visiting the campus. Then he will have to try and hire at least a couple of national recruiting names who could talk several other remaining blue-chip athletes into visiting Lincoln.

With less than one month to go before signing day, you can say things are very sticky. However, Callahan has a proven record and the personality and knowledge to effectively sign several top-notch athletes before signing day. In order to be successful, he'll get very little sleep and log alot of air miles between now and the first Wednesday in February. If past history is any indication, however, the chances are slim for Nebraska to put together a top-20 class, let alone a top-10 class.

Nebraska is a powerhouse that relies on national talent to feed its football engine and there are not many local stars who can play at the level needed for the Huskers to be successful. So, Nebraska must recruit the states of New Jersey, Florida, California and Texas hard and successfully.

In the past, Callahan was ranked as one of the nation's top recruiters, but he cannot do it alone. The success or failure of this regime will rely on his ability to select a top-notch staff that cannot only coach the heck out of the players it has, but will also recruit difference-maker type players able to compete against Texas and Oklahoma. Like USC and Oklahoma in the past, the Cornhuskers are not far off from having a BCS team. Six or seven key players should do it and with the offense Callahan is ready to implement, their fortunes against such powerhouses as Texas and Oklahoma could swiftly turn to their advantage.

But first things first. I believe it is imperative that Callahan salvage this recruiting class and bring in at least nine blue-chip athletes who will fit nicely into a pro-style offense. Well, the 'Huskers have three weeks to do it and only time will tell if they're up to the task.

Tom Lemming is editor of Prep Football Report. For information on how to subscribe to Prep Football Report's three yearly magazines and five newsletters ($60 for the magazines and $90 for both magazines and newsletters), call 1-630-907-1000 or write to P.O. Box 59113, Schaumburg, Ill. 60159. For year-round recruiting updates, call Tom Lemming's Prep Football Hotline at 900-388-1212. Calls are $1.79 per minute, and callers must be 18 years old or have parents' permission.

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