Cornhuskers Coaching Speculation Abounds

The next Nebraska coach doesn't necessarily have to have ties to the school, but Tom Osborne says the Cornhuskers' next leader must have an understanding of the program's unique culture and history.

Somebody such as former Nebraska quarterback and Buffalo coach Turner Gill would qualify.

Buffalo athletic director Warde Manuel gave permission to Osborne, Nebraska's interim athletic director, to speak with Gill, Buffalo sports information director Paul Vecchio told The Associated Press. He said an interview had not yet been scheduled.

Manuel told the Lincoln Journal Star that Turner has his support.

"I think it's tremendous. Turner is absolutely ready to coach at Nebraska. He's done a great job, an awesome turnaround. Although I would hate to lose him, he would be a great coach there."

Manuel told the the Journal Star that he believes an interview will take place "in the next day or so."

LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini also appears to be on the top of the list of names mentioned most often as possible successors to Bill Callahan.

The Journal Star reported that an airplane carrying Osborne and university chancellor Harvey Perlman left Lincoln bound for Baton Rouge, La., on Sunday afternoon.

The Omaha World-Herald reported that Osborne met with Pelini on Sunday then traveled to Atlanta. Parker Executive Search, the firm assisting Nebraska in finding a replacement for Callahan, is based in Atlanta.

One of the criticisms of Callahan, who was fired Saturday, was that he didn't understand or appreciate the fans' passion and high expectations. Both were inflated during Osborne's coaching career, a 25-year period that saw the Huskers average 10 wins a season and win three national championships.

"I think it's pretty important that they have a good grasp of it," Osborne said of prospective candidates. "I think most people in football have a kind of peripheral sense of what it is like."

Gill quarterbacked the Huskers in the early 1980s and was an assistant under Osborne and Frank Solich. He left in 2004, after Callahan's first season.

Pelini was the Huskers' defensive coordinator under Solich in 2003 after working eight years as an NFL assistant.

Told of the flight, LSU athletic director Skip Bertman told the Journal Star, "Are you kidding me?"

Bertman told the the Journal Star that nobody from Nebraska contacted him regarding Pelini, but added, "It's probably not absolutely, positively mandatory for an assistant. I don't suppose he felt he had to contact me, I guess."

Gill and Pelini did not return messages left by The Associated Press on Sunday.

Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez's name has been bandied, but he said Sunday he has no interest in a return to coaching. Alvarez, who stepped down as Badgers' coach in 2005, played linebacker at Nebraska in 1965-67.

"I've got the job I want right now," Alvarez said.

Osborne said it would be "nice" if the next coach already had experience at Nebraska.

"But that's not going to be exclusive," Osborne said. "I'm not going to make that a prerequisite. So I'll just try to find the best candidate. And it takes two people to agree. I may talk to some people that have Nebraska ties that want no part of it."

Among other names to surface in media reports are Rutgers' Greg Schiano, Cincinnati's Brian Kelly, Boise State's Chris Petersen, Navy's Paul Johnson and South Florida's Jim Leavitt.

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