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GENIUS WATCH, MIDWESTERN EDITION: BILL CALLAHAN

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We first became aware of Bill Callahan's existence as we watched the Tampa Bay Bucs call out the plays of Oakland's offense before the snap in Super Bowl XXXVII. (Really, if you've never seen it, it's astonishing. John Lynch is almost laughing as he calls out the routes to Dwight Smith in the secondary. So were we.) Despite the subsequent implosion of the Raiders the following season and Callahan's firing, Nebraska went bold and hired him anyway, flabbergasting the option crowd in spring practices with exotic shifts, strange formations, and other esoteric features like "the forward pass" and "play action."

So we weren't very surprised last year to watch Joe Dailey play pitch and catch with the other team's secondary for most of the season, even though Nebraska clearly still retained the capability to run the ball over many of its opponents and win a few more games to finish with a winning record. It was agony watching their drives: a dropped pass, a six yard run, then a quick slant on third and four right into the hands of a DB. (From memory I would swear I saw this happen every time I watched the Huskers play, but I'm sure they threw an incompletion every now and then on third down, too.)

So Callahan got stubborn, they finished with a losing record for the first time since the Kennedy administration, and Callahan is caught on tape after a 30-3 loss to the Sooners calling Oklahoma fans "fucking hillbillies." (Normally we'd like a coach that did this, but we reserve the term "hillbillies" for those who actually qualify, like Tennessee and West Virginia fans. Sooners would be "rednecks," "hicks," or perhaps most accurately, "shitkickers." Usage matters, people.)

Bill Callahan: On the Genius Watch

So the Genius Watch for the Midwest this year falls squarely on the shlumpy shoulders of Bill Callahan, who despite bringing in a bushel of corn-fed blue chippers this year will be very much under scrutiny in Lincoln. He's already taunting the Sooners in spring practice, which Bob Stoops will no doubt have noticed. The first time his QB throws a pick on 1st and goal at the opponent's one, we'll bet the grumbling will get awfully loud in Lincoln.

Genius Watch Status for Callahan: ODD, WITH A HINT OF PLAIN WEIRD.