Osborne designates himself interim coach

LINCOLN, NE -- Few Nebraska football fans are going to argue with Tom Osborne's decision on an interim head coach.

Already the interim athletic director, Osborne declared himself the coach until he hires a successor to Bill Callahan, allowing Nebraska's beloved former coach to visit prospective recruits and try to prevent the program from slipping during the recruiting contact period.

Athletic department communications chief Randy York said the 70-year-old Osborne, who took over the department after the firing of Steve Pederson last month, passed an NCAA certification test on his first try Wednesday and has informed the Big 12 office of his new title.

Osborne was unavailable for comment Thursday. York said he would be on the road recruiting through the end of the week.

Gary Bargen, assistant athletic director in charge of compliance, said the interim AD tag would have limited Osborne to meeting with prospective recruits only if they visited campus. Now he can visit recruits in schools and homes until Dec. 15.

Several recruits who had been committed to Nebraska have said publicly that they are considering other schools while awaiting to see who the next coach will be.

Callahan was fired last Saturday following a 65-51 loss at Colorado, where the Huskers squandered an 11-point halftime lead by allowing 34 consecutive points.

Nebraska finished a dismal 5-7, a year removed from reaching the Big 12 championship game. The season featured a 76-39 defeat at Kansas, the most points allowed by a Nebraska team, and included six games in which its famed defense surrendered 40 or more points.

Osborne, who won 255 games and three national championships from 1973-97, has said he has no interest in returning to the sidelines -- even going so far as to say his wife, Nancy, would "shoot me" if he did.

Once a hire is made, Osborne could continue to recruit until the new coach assembles a full staff of nine assistants, York said.

Two assistants from Callahan's staff, defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove and cornerbacks coach Phil Elmassian, are no longer recruiting for Nebraska.

Osborne said in a radio interview with the Husker Sports Network on Wednesday that he hoped to have a new coach selected by next week. He already interviewed Buffalo coach Turner Gill and LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini and spoke informally with Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe, according to media reports.

Another coach linked to the search, Cincinnati's Brian Kelly, told local radio station WCKY on Wednesday that he had not been contacted by Nebraska.


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