|ESPN.com: College Football||[Print without images]|
LINCOLN, Neb. -- By Saturday, the drab white tunnel walls were replaced by a fresh coat of red paint and pictures of serious young men who became All-Americans. The hip-hop music that thumped through the Cornhuskers' entrance to the field was gone, because back in the good old days, game faces were molded to the beat of The Alan Parsons Project.Tom Osborne was everywhere in his first week on the job as Nebraska's interim athletic director. Friday morning, he received standing ovations over eggs, coffee and pep talks in Omaha. Saturday, his presence in a downtrodden football state was palpable. College students walked around campus wearing T-shirts that said, "T.O.'s House Cleaning Service." The Cornhuskers seemed rejuvenated. "I'm not going to lie," NU defensive lineman Zach Potter said. "I tried harder when he was out there. Because he's coach Osborne. It's sweet."
|Bill Callahan and the Huskers have lost three straight games.|
They can be ironic, though. Like when the Aggies made defenders whiff and scurry over the option, the same brand of outdated offense the Huskers were running four years ago. Back then, Frank Solich was considered a caveman of sorts and Bill Callahan was fresh and bringing in a fancy, new West Coast offense. On Saturday, the Cornhuskers yearned for more of the old. They were shut out in the second half, gave up 359 rushing yards and have lost three straight by a combined score of 122-34. They are 4-4 and go to Texas next week. Many considered Saturday the last realistically winnable game of the season. "Obviously, we're hurting again," Callahan said. "I felt coming into the year we had a good team -- we do have a good football team. We have talent. We're just not getting it done for whatever reason. But I'm not sagging. I'm just really disappointed." It has been a season of dramatic mood swings and cold, swirling winds. This week alone, there were two impromptu news conferences, one firing, and at least 50 rumors of coaching changes. Callahan's demeanor has changed, too. When the Huskers were blown out at Missouri two weeks ago, he arrived at his weekly news conference determined and on the offensive. They still had the Big 12 North title in sight. On Saturday, he seemed contrite, defeated and almost resigned to the fact that his time in Lincoln is all but over. To shake things up, he brought offensive coordinator Shawn Watson down from the booth to share play-calling duties. It seemed to be working just before halftime, when Sam Keller hit Maurice Purify for a 10-yard touchdown pass to cut the Aggies' lead to two.
|The Huskers have lost their grip on the '07 season.|
But it was worlds away from the old Nebraska. Elizabeth Merrill is a senior writer for ESPN.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.