Just the 27th head coach in the
114-year history of the storied program, the 47-year-old Callahan
brings a wealth of NFL and collegiate experience to Nebraska.
"Coach Bill Callahan is a rare find,"
Pederson said. "As a Super Bowl coach, a top-level recruiter and an
experienced coach on the college level, he has all the ingredients
to continue the consistent success that typifies Nebraska. As I
talked to football people from around the country, the name Bill
Callahan is held in very high esteem. We are excited he is here, and
I am happy to work with him to continue the success of this
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Chancellor Harvey Perlman conferred with Pederson throughout the
search process and praised the selection of Callahan.
"Steve has been thorough and meticulous
in his search for a new coach for our university, and throughout
this entire process has kept the best interests of our program and
university at heart," Perlman said.
"We have been searching for an
individual who not only could rebuild our program on the field, but
who would do so within the Nebraska tradition that has produced more
academic all-Americans than any other school and has been
characterized as a program of integrity. I am convinced that our new
coach will uphold the Nebraska tradition and will run a program
consistent with the idea of a student-athlete, where academic
success is at least as important, if not more so, than winning and
After serving as head coach of the
Oakland Raiders the past two years, Callahan said he was thrilled
with the opportunity to return to the college ranks.
"I knew in my heart that Nebraska was
an ideal situation from a professional and a personal standpoint,"
Callahan said. "Nebraska has all the components and elements of a
rich tradition and history that was so appealing to me in this
decision-making process. I've always respected the college game,
particularly the passion and love the players have for the game. One
of Nebraska's greatest traditions, of course, is its fans and the
incredible sellout streak in Memorial Stadium. Having spent 15 years
in the college ranks, I know that there truly is no place like
Callahan comes to Nebraska from the
Oakland Raiders, where he became just the fourth rookie head coach
to lead his team to the Super Bowl. He posted an 11-5 regular-season
record his first season and went 4-12 last season. Hired by Raiders
owner Al Davis in March of 2002, Callahan led the Raiders to the AFC
West title and Super Bowl XXXVII.
The Raiders set an NFL record by
appearing in Super Bowls in four different decades, and Callahan
became the third first-year Raiders head coach to lead the team to
an AFC West title and into the conference championship game, joining
Art Shell (1990) and John Madden (1969).
In 2002 the Raiders led the NFL in
passing for the first time in club history, and they also led the
league in total offense for just the second time. That year Callahan
was named the NFL Coach of the Year by the Touchdown Club of
Columbus and the NFL Rookie Coach of the Year by Football Digest.
Under Callahan, the Raiders featured a
multiple offense. In fact, in a three-season span, Callahan's
Oakland offense went from leading the NFL in rushing (2000) to
placing first in the league in passing (2002). In 2002, the Raiders
became the first team to win games in the same season while rushing
at least 60 times (60 attempts on Dec. 28 versus Kansas City; 24-0)
and passing at least 60 times (65 attempts on Sept. 15 at
Callahan followed his mentor Jon Gruden
to Oakland as the offensive coordinator and coached the tight ends
for the Raiders in 1998 before coaching the offensive line from 1999
to 2001. Under Callahan's tutelage, the Silver and Black allowed a
team-record-low 28 sacks in 2000, a mark that was surpassed in 2001
with just 27 sacks allowed. In addition, with Callahan coaching the
offensive line, the Raiders led the NFL in rushing in 2000,
averaging 154.4 yards per game. The Raiders won the AFC West title
three straight years with Callahan at the helm of the offense from
2000 to 2002.
Callahan's offensive players at Oakland
earned eight Pro Bowl appearances from 1999 to 2001, while five more
earned the honor in 2002, including quarterback Rich Gannon, who was
the 2002 NFL regular-season MVP.
[to top of second column in
Prior to his six-year stint with the
Raiders, Callahan coached with offensive coordinator Gruden and head
coach Ray Rhodes, serving as offensive line coach for the
Philadelphia Eagles from 1995 to 1997. In his first two years with
Philadelphia, the Eagles ranked second in the NFC in rushing and
made the playoffs both seasons. During that time, current Husker
Irving Fryar made two Pro Bowl appearances.
No stranger to the college game,
Callahan spent 15 years in the college ranks, including 12 in the
Big Ten Conference, at two strong academic institutions. He quickly
became known as one of the game's best offensive line mentors and
developed a reputation as one of college football's top recruiters.
Callahan was not only ranked as one of the top 10 recruiters in the
country by Tom Lemming in 1992, he was listed as one of the top 10
recruiters of all-time by Lemming in 2001, based on Lemming’s
recruiting ratings over the past 20 years.
Callahan began his collegiate career as
a graduate assistant at Illinois under head coach Mike White, who
later coached the Raiders. Callahan was promoted to a full-time
position in 1981, coaching the tight ends, and stayed at Illinois
through the 1986 season, coaching the offensive line, quarterbacks
and special teams. While Callahan was on staff at Illinois, the
Illini participated in three bowl games, including a trip to the
Rose Bowl following the 1983 season, when they won the Big Ten title
with a perfect 9-0 record. Illinois finished fourth or better in the
Big Ten in five of Callahan's six years as a full-time assistant.
After seven years at Illinois, Callahan
coached the offensive line at Northern Arizona (1987, 1988) and
served as offensive coordinator at Southern Illinois in 1989.
He moved to a second Big Ten school,
joining former Husker Barry Alvarez (1965 to 1967) at Wisconsin in
1990 to coach the offensive line. Seven Badger offensive linemen
earned all-Big Ten honors under Callahan, including center Cory
Raymer, who was a consensus all-American in 1994. The 1993 Wisconsin
team captured the school's first conference title in 31 years and
defeated UCLA in the Rose Bowl.
Callahan grew up on the south side of
Chicago playing quarterback as a prep student. 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
his bachelor of arts degree from Illinois Benedictine College in
1978, majoring in physical education.
He and his
wife, Valerie, have four children: Brian, 19, Daniel, 17, Cathryn,
12, and Jaclyn, 11. Brian is a redshirt sophomore at UCLA, where he
serves as a backup quarterback.
Bill Callahan at
Birth date, hometown: July 31, 1956,
Family: Wife Valerie; children Brian,
Daniel, Cathryn and Jaclyn
Education: Illinois Benedictine College
(May 21, 1978), bachelor of arts degree, physical education major
Collegiate playing experience (by season)
1975-1977 -- Illinois Benedictine
College, starting quarterback, honorable-mention NAIA All-American
Coaching experience (by season)
1980 -- Part-time assistant coach,
University of Illinois
1981-1986 -- Assistant coach,
University of Illinois (tight ends, offensive line, quarterbacks and
special teams coach)
1987-1988 -- Assistant coach, Northern
Arizona University (offensive line)
1989 -- Assistant coach, Southern
Illinois University (offensive line)
1990-1994 -- Assistant coach,
University of Wisconsin (offensive line)
1995-1997 -- Assistant coach,
Philadelphia Eagles (offensive line)
1998-2001 -- Offensive coordinator,
Oakland Raiders (1998 tight ends, 1999-2001 offensive line)
2002-2003 -- Head coach, Oakland
Raiders (named to the position on March 12, 2002; 15-17 record in
2002 -- NFL Rookie Coach of the Year,
2002 -- NFL
Coach of the Year, Touchdown Club of Columbus
of Nebraska news release]
[Press conference pictures]