Dallas coordinator meets with Nebraska

Updated: January 6, 2004, 7:44 AM ET
Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. -- With Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer having interviewed for Nebraska's head coaching job, speculation turned to who the next candidate would be to meet with athletic director Steve Pederson.

Omaha and Lincoln newspapers reported in their Tuesday editions that Mississippi coach David Cutcliffe, California coach Jeff Tedford and former Oakland Raiders coach Bill Callahan were possible candidates.

Zimmer's wife, Vikki, confirmed to the Lincoln Journal Star that Zimmer was in Lincoln on Monday.

Cowboys officials referred all questions about Zimmer to the university. NU officials declined comment, as they have throughout the hiring process.

The Associated Press has a standing request for copies of any application materials submitted by people who are selected as finalists for the head coaching position. To date, the university has no such materials to hand over, said NU spokesman Joe Rowson.

Cutcliffe told the Journal Star that no contact had been made between NU officials and Cutcliffe or anyone representing Cutcliffe.

Cal associate athletic director Bob Rose said that Tedford and the school's athletic director, Steve Gladsone, had not been contacted by Nebraska.

Attempts to reach Callahan were not successful.

Utah coach Urban Meyer, who has been the focus of speculation since Solich was fired, told The Associated Press on Monday night that he had not been contacted by Pederson.

Nebraska fans have been in turmoil since the Huskers went 7-7 in 2002, the school's worst showing since 1961. After that season, coach Frank Solich replaced six assistants, all of whom had worked under former coach Tom Osborne.

Pederson came on board after Solich revamped his staff, but fired Solich this November after a 9-3 regular season.

Solich's record at Nebraska was 58-19 in six seasons, but Pederson said that he felt the program wasn't progressing.

The Huskers finished 10-3 this season after beating Michigan State in the Alamo Bowl under interim coach Bo Pelini, who was hired in December 2002 by Solich from the NFL as Nebraska's defensive coordinator.

Pederson has said that Pelini and quarterbacks coach Turner Gill, who played under Osborne, also will be interviewed for the head coaching job.

Pelini, however, is reportedly a candidate to become defensive coordinator at Oklahoma, and was on the Sooners' sideline in New Orleans Sunday night to watch OU lose the national championship to LSU.

Zimmer, who helped build a Cowboys defense that ranked No. 1 in the NFL in 2003, joined the Dallas staff nine years ago.

Zimmer, 47, was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2000 and was one of just a handful of carry-overs from the previous staff to be retained by new coach Bill Parcells for the 2003 season.

Before joining the Cowboys, Zimmer also coached at Illinois State, Missouri, and Weber State. His father, Bill, coached at Bradley.

Earlier, Arkansas coach Houston Nutt rejected an overture from Nebraska, saying strong family ties and a job left undone kept him with the Razorbacks.

Nebraska also expressed interest in Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Al Saunders, who withdrew from consideration.

Pederson said no one has officially been offered the job and no offer will be made before a candidate meets Chancellor Harvey Perlman, who has the last word on who the next coach will be.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press