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Bill Callahan
Position: Head Coach
Alma Mater: Illinois Benedictine College
Graduating Year: 1978
Experience: 1st Year

Bill Callahan guided Nebraska to a 27-22 record in his four years in Lincoln from 2003-07. He led the Huskers to 9-5 mark in 2006 that included a Big 12 North Division title and a trip to the Big 12 Championship Game. Nebraska lost to Oklahoma, 21-7, in the conference title game at Arrowhead Stadium, before earning a New Year's Day bowl invitation to the Cotton Bowl. NU fell to Auburn, 17-14, to close the 2006 season.

 

After seeing steady improvement in his first three seasons, beginning with a 5-6 record in 2004 and advancing with an 8-4 mark and tie for second in the Big 12 North in 2005, the Huskers took a step back in Callahan's final season in 2007.

 

Nebraska finished with a 5-7 record - the Huskers' second losing season in four years under Callahan. The seven losses represented the most by an NU team since 1958.

 

While Nebraska's offense continued to score points in the West Coast offensive philosophy installed by Callahan, averaging a more than respectable 33.4 points per game, the Husker defense struggled by historic standards, surrendering 37.9 points per game.

 

Callahan was removed by Athletic Director Tom Osborne at the conclusion of the 2007 season, and former Nebraska defensive coordinator Bo Pelini, who had just helped LSU to a national title as the Tigers' defensive coordinator, was hand-picked by Osborne as Callahan's replacement.

 

Callahan was originally hired by then-Athletic Director Steve Pederson on Jan. 9, 2004, to replace Frank Solich. However, Pelini had spent one game as Nebraska's interim head coach, leading the Huskers to an Alamo Bowl victory over Michigan State before moving on to serve as the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma.

 

Callahan came to Nebraska less than a year removed from leading the Oakland Raiders to Super Bowl XXXVII after winning the AFC West title in 2002. He became the fourth rookie head coach to reach the Super Bowl. He led Oakland to an 11-5 regular-season record in his first year and went 4-12 in 2003, when the Raiders were hit hard by injuries.

 

In his first season at Nebraska, Callahan installed the West Coast Offense and the Huskers struggled to a 5-6 record, NU's first losing season since 1961. In 2004, with a year of learning the new system, Nebraska rebounded with an 8-4 record that included a 32-28 Alamo Bowl victory over No. 20 Michigan. NU finished the season with a No. 24 final national ranking in both major polls.

 

The Huskers continued to build momentum in 2006 by working their way to a 9-5 record that included a 6-2 regular-season Big 12 mark. NU defeated top-25 Missouri and Texas A&M teams late in the season before rolling to a 37-14 win over Colorado to claim the Big 12 North title. NU entered the 2006 Big 12 Championship Game ranked 19th nationally, but were tripped up by No. 8 Oklahoma, 21-7.

 

The No. 22 Huskers ended the season with a 17-14 loss to No. 10 Auburn in the Cotton Bowl, before going 5-7 in 2007, giving Callahan nine losses in his last 14 games on the sideline at Nebraska. NU did not end the season in the national rankings in either 2006 or 2007.

In 2006, senior quarterback Zac Taylor established school records with 3,197 yards passing and 26 touchdowns through the air. In the process, Taylor was recognized as the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year. On the defensive side of the ball, Nebraska ranked in the top 25 nationally in scoring defense and senior defensive end Adam Carriker was named Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year.

Having coached on every level during his career, Callahan was one of five coaches to take a collegiate head coaching job after previously guiding a team to the Super Bowl. Callahan brought a wealth of experience to Nebraska from the National Football League and collegiate ranks.  He had also served as a high school coach and teacher for two years.

A Chicago native, Callahan’s arrival at Nebraska not only served as a return home to the Midwest, but also to college football.  Callahan closed his 30th year as a coach in his final season at NU, and his 19th at the college level. He also spent nine years in the NFL, before returning to the professional ranks with the Philadelphia Eagles upon departing Nebraska. 


Callahan grew up on the south side of Chicago playing quarterback as a prepster at Mendel Catholic High School. He was a three-year starter at quarterback at NAIA Illinois Benedictine (now Benedictine University in Lisle, Ill.) from 1975 to 1977, earning honorable-mention All-America honors his last two seasons. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Illinois Benedictine College in 1978, majoring in physical education. Callahan was inducted into his college's athletic Hall of Fame in 2005. Callahan began his coaching career in the prep ranks. He coached at Oak Lawn High School in 1978 and then moved to De La Salle in 1979, where he also served as an instructor.  Callahan and his wife, Valerie, have four children, Brian, Daniel, Cathryn and Jaclyn. Brian was a member of the UCLA football team.

Callahan began his football career at Mendel Catholic High School in Chicago. He started at quarterback for three seasons (1975-77) at Illinois Benedictine (Lisle, Ill.), earning honorable-mention All-America honors in 1976 and 1977. He was born July 31, 1956, in Chicago, Ill.

High School

Years

Team

Coaching Responsibility

1978

Oak Lawn (Oak Lawn, Ill.)

Assistant Coach

1979

De La Salle (Chicago, Ill.)

Assistant Coach

College

Years

Team

Coaching Responsibility

1980-81

Illinois

Associate Coach

1982-83

Illinois

Special Teams, Tight Ends

1984-85

Illinois

Offensive Line

1986

Illinois

Quarterbacks

1987-88

Northern Arizona

Offensive Line

1989

Southern Illinois

Offensive Coordinator

1990-94

Wisconsin

Offensive Line

National Football League

Years

Team

Coaching Responsibility

1995-97

Philadelphia Eagles

Offensive Line

1998

Oakland Raiders

Offensive Coordinator, Tight Ends

1999-2001

Oakland Raiders

Offensive Coordinator, Offensive Line

2002-03

Oakland Raiders

Head Coach

College

Years

Team

Coaching Responsibility

2004-07

Nebraska

Head Coach