Saying team needs direction, Callahan won't step down

Updated: October 16, 2007, 10:47 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

LINCOLN, Neb. -- A day after the man who hired him was fired, embattled Nebraska coach Bill Callahan insisted he won't be resigning anytime soon.

Callahan said Tuesday that he didn't know how the dismissal of athletic director Steve Pederson -- who will be replaced on an interim basis by former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne -- would affect his job status. The fourth-year coach said he was saddened by Pederson's firing, but he sidestepped questions about whether he felt responsible for it.

"I feel responsible for the results of this program," Callahan said. "I feel responsible for a lot of things, good and bad. Ultimately, it lies on my shoulders to provide the results you have to provide."

The decision to hire Osborne temporarily to run the athletics department will be discused at a 6:15 p.m. ET news conference. It's possible that Osborne will determine the fate of Callahan.

Chancellor Harvey Perlman said the next athletic director would decide Callahan's fate. If Callahan is fired, the university would be forced to buy out his contract for more than $3 million.

Callahan said his confidence in his own abilities haven't been shaken.

"I know in my heart of hearts I'm doing an excellent job, a good job," Callahan said.

He said his self-evaluation was based on more than the wins and losses.

"It's everything that has to do with organization, preparation, game-planning, direction of the staff, direction of the whole, entire program. I have no hesitation about that," he said. "There are so many things we've done in a positive nature. I'm confident we've done some great things here."

Nebraska plays Texas A&M at home on Saturday.

After the Huskers reached the Big 12 championship game in 2006, they've slipped back this season.

The Huskers are 4-3 after losing 45-14 to Oklahoma State last week. That came after a 41-6 road loss to Missouri. The defense ranks 104th nationally after giving up more than 400 yards in five straight games, and allowing 40 points four times.

"It's unfortunate we're in a championship game last year in December, and here we are struggling,'' Callahan said. ``It happens. Why it happens? Boy, I wish I could tell you all the reasons. We know we're struggling more than what normal teams do when they are struggling because we've given up a lot of points and a lot of yards. That's where the hurt lies."

The firing of Pederson on Monday increases the heat on Callahan.

Pederson fired Frank Solich after a 9-3 regular season in 2003, and went outside the Nebraska family to hire Callahan, who had just been fired by the Oakland Raiders.

Progress under Callahan has stalled after last year's team finished 9-5 and went to the Cotton Bowl.

"Our players are looking now at our coaching staff to see what type of mood and attitude we bring to the meetings and to the field," Callahan said. "It's very important they see us in a positive light."

Callahan came in with the reputation as an outstanding recruiter, and each of his signing classes have ranked in the top 25 nationally. He dumped the triple-option offense that had been Nebraska's identity for decades and installed a West Coast offense.

The Huskers are 26-18 overall in Callahan's four seasons, 14-14 against the Big 12, 3-8 against teams in the Top 25 and 0-6 against the top 10.

Callahan was Pederson's fourth choice after Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Al Saunders, Arkansas coach Houston Nutt and Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer all withdrew their names from consideration.

Ten days after he was fired as Oakland Raiders coach -- and 40 days after Solich's dismissal -- Callahan took over the program.

Callahan said he won't look over his shoulder as he coaches.

"There are no guarantees in this business, no matter where you're coaching, especially when you're struggling," he said. "Nothing has been said to me relative to dismissals or anything of that nature. We're just going to press on."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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