LINCOLN, Neb. -- Bill Callahan was fired as Nebraska's coach Saturday, his four-year stay marked by the most embarrassing losses at a football program once among the mightiest in the nation.
Interim athletic director and Nebraska great Tom Osborne announced the dismissal one day after the Cornhuskers ended the season at 5-7 following a 65-51 loss at Colorado. They squandered an 11-point halftime lead by allowing 34 consecutive points.
"As a former coach this is a role I really don't like," Osborne said at a news conference. "I hate to sit in judgment of other people. I never envisioned being in a situation where I would have to make a decision on somebody's employment opportunity, but that's the nature of this business."
Osborne met with Callahan for five minutes Saturday, and Callahan left the football complex without speaking to reporters. After Friday's game, he said he enjoyed his time at Nebraska. "I have no regrets," he said.
Osborne said he told Callahan at the end of October there would be a coaching change if Nebraska finished with a losing record. LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini and Buffalo coach Turner Gill are the names mentioned most often to fill one of college football's glamour jobs.
Nebraska's dismal season followed one in which it reached the Big 12 championship game. This year also featured a 76-39 defeat at Kansas, the most points allowed by a Nebraska team.
|Tom Osborne says he told Bill Callahan that finishing with a losing record would cost him his job. (AP)|
It will cost the university more than $3.1 million to buy out Callahan's contract, which was to run through the 2011 season. The contract was signed in September before a series of the most lopsided losses in decades and the firing of athletic director Steve Pederson, who hired Callahan.
Osborne said he had not yet spoken with any coaching candidates.
"The next few days I'll try to talk to four or five people," he said. "I would like to move it along as fast as I can because recruiting is really critical at this time."
Pelini was Nebraska's defensive coordinator in 2003 and was popular among fans, who chanted "We want Bo" after he led the Huskers to an Alamo Bowl win over Michigan State as interim head coach following the firing of Frank Solich.
Gill, a longtime assistant under Osborne and Solich, was the Huskers' quarterback in the early 1980s and a Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1983.
Callahan came nowhere near meeting the high standards for Nebraska football established by Osborne, who won 255 games and three national championships in 25 seasons before retiring after the 1997 season.