Sources: Buffalo's Gill, LSU's Pelini at top of Nebraska's search

Updated: December 1, 2007, 10:23 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Nebraska's search for a new coach has fans obsessed and the media tracking airplanes.

The rumor mill is churning full-speed and reporters are working overtime, staking out airports and using software to monitor the comings and goings of interim athletic director Tom Osborne.

"It's absolutely crazy right now with people tracking airplanes and everybody having a source telling them exactly what's happening," Omaha radio show host Kevin Kugler said. "But unless you're the 70-year-old former football coach who's conducting this search, you really don't know."

Sources told ESPN.com's Pat Forde on Wednesday that Nebraska has narrowed its search to two candidates: Turner Gill, head coach at Buffalo, and Bo Pelini, the defensive coordinator at LSU.

After leaving a Tuesday afternoon meeting with the team, Osborne said he had not offered the job to anyone. Asked when he would name a coach, he said, "Hopefully sooner than later."

He declined to say how many candidates he's interviewed.

Osborne said he didn't address the specifics of the coaching search with the players.

"I told them to go to class," he said.

All that's known for sure is Gill is a candidate. His athletic director, Warde Manuel, has said so. Pelini has been interviewed, according to media reports that all cite unidentified sources.

Then there's Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe. According to The Sporting News and its unidentified source, Grobe spoke informally with Osborne.

Gill, Pelini and Grobe have not returned phone messages from The Associated Press.

Another potential candidate, Navy's Paul Johnson, didn't say yes or no Tuesday when asked whether he's been contacted by Nebraska. He said no comment, adding he wouldn't be answering questions about anything other than the Midshipmen's showdown Saturday against Army.

In the three days since Osborne fired Bill Callahan, speculation about the next coach has been rampant.

Radio talk shows and Internet message boards have, ad nauseam, addressed the merits of Gill and Pelini. Fans have taken particular interest in those two because of their ties to the school.

The media, using information available on the Internet, have had their eyes on the skies. Using Federal Aviation Administration owner registration records and flight tracking software, outlets were able to report that a booster's plane flew Osborne and chancellor Harvey Perlman to Baton Rouge, La., apparently to interview Pelini.

They were also able to report the same plane then flew to Atlanta, where more work on the search was apparently done.

And when that plane flew back to Lincoln on Monday, a horde was on hand to capture video of Osborne and Perlman deplaning.

Osborne jokingly thanked the group of 15 reporters for coming out and greeting him.

"I know you had nothing better to do," he said.

Meanwhile, because NCAA bylaws allow for program-connected officials to recruit in times of a swift coaching change, Osborne is on the road looking for players.

"It's a very unique situation," Tim Cassidy, Nebraska's associate athletic director for football, told the Lincoln Star Journal.

Before embarking on the trip, though, Osborne had to first pass a test.

"He's been a big asset to us in recruiting," Cassidy told the Star Journal.

Information from ESPN.com senior writer Pat Forde and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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