Lincoln -- University of Nebraska Athletic Director Steve Pederson made his first public comments about the coaching search Saturday afternoon as he met with the media. Pederson discussed the hiring process and the status of the head coaching search. Fans can click on the link above to hear Pederson's full remarks.
Steve Pederson's Statement
When we made the decision to change the head football coach at the University of Nebraska, I said we would not make any statement until a new coach was hired. I knew that would lead to widespead speculation, but the events that transpired in Arkansas today require that we respond to the process that we are following to select the best head football coach for the University of Nebraska. I understand by not initializing this process, many people were confused on how this process works. We are unusual in the fact that the University of Nebraska has not gone through this process in football since we hired Bob Devaney from Wyoming in 1962. However, the process is proceeding as planned.
I have been asked why we did not name to move a coach immediately in December. Out of respect to our current team, it was not appropriate to interview candidates while we were preparing for the bowl game. Additionally, the pool of candidates at that point was very small. I would not contact any coach who had a team playing in a bowl game, nor would I contact a coach on a professional football team who was still involved in the regular season. So, to have the greatest pool of top candidates available, we wanted to wait until after the bowl game to start to approach potential candidates. That interview process started on Tuesday. We will move as quickly as we can, but very prudently in this process. This is not a hire that should be made for the sake of expediency, it should be made only after interviewing the best pool of people available. We have an established list of candidates for this job and we are in the process of moving forward an interviewing each.
The University of Nebraska football job is one of the most prestigious in the country, and that means that even being connected with this job can pay great dividends for some. From the day this job was opened, I have received calls from coaches and their agents from around the country. I knew that names would be floated for the sake of bettering their own situations. I knew that names would be floated of those with whom I worked with or had previous relationships, and I knew some coaches would float their names to see if we were interested. That is all part of this process. As we interview people, it could also happen that some people would decline this job just because it is not the right fit for them. However, what I do know is that we want a coach who is excited about leading the greatest football program in the country. Once the initial discussion with the candidate has taken place, if appropriate, we would bring them to campus to meet with a variety of people. The job would not be offered to anyone until they have met with Chancellor Perlman. At that point, we would move forward and inform the other candidates. This process of interviewing is underway, and I am pleased with how it is going. Out of respect to the candidates, their universities or organizations, and the University of Nebraska, we have tried to keep this process as confidential as possible. This is not to show disrespect to anyone, but rather to show respect to all involved. I about fell out of my chair this morning when I heard the reports that we offered the job to someone and the kind of dollar figures that were being floated. We have not offered this job to anyone, and I believe that we can hire a new coach for the same kind of package as the previous football coach.
When we decided to make the change, we felt it was the most fair to all parties involved to do that at the time we arrived at the decision. This would give Frank (Solich) and his assistants an opportunity to pursue other jobs if they chose to do so at a time in December when many of these jobs were open. We also believed that we would be recruiting our future student athletes under false pretences and that was not appropriate. During that time, I appreciated the fact that our assistant coaches worked hard to prepare our team for a victory in the Alamo Bowl. This also gave me a chance to watch them work in some different roles in our football program. During that time, I did have in-depth conversations about their visions of the program with both Bo Pelini and Turner Gill. I asked them to keep our conversations confidential. Since we were preparing for the bowl game, and it is unusual to have a situation where you have two publicly announced candidates on the same staff, I thought it would be unfair to our players to put them in a position of having to choose sides. I appreciate their professionalism, both Turner and Bo's, in keeping our conversations confidential. I do plan to offer each of them a formal interview for this job. There will also be a lot of conjecture about a job of this magnitude. I'm not surprised by any of this because it goes with the territory in a big-time college football program. I can remember three years ago when USC hired Pete Carroll amid widespread speculation and rumors, and his hire was greeted with a lukewarm reception. History has proven that decision to be an excellent one, and only history will be able to judge the decision we are about to make.
I will, however, from this point forward, try to update our team, our current assistant coaches, the media and the public on this process from time to time. I will do my best to answer any questions, but will not address things regarding specific candidates.