Callahan with the New York Jets.

Bill Callahan

Date of birth July 31 1956 (1956-07-31) (age 64)
Place of birth Chicago, Illinois
No. N/A
Career highlights
Coaching Record / Statistics
Regular season 27–22–0 (College)
15–17–0 (NFL)
Coaching stats Pro Football Reference
Career player statistics (if any)
More stats at:
Team(s) as a player (if any)
Team(s) as a coach/administrator (if any)
Illinois (Assistant)
Northern Arizona (OL)
Southern Illinois (OC)
Wisconsin (OL)
Philadelphia Eagles (OL)
Oakland Raiders (OC)
Oakland Raiders
New York Jets (AHC/OL)
Dallas Cowboys (OC/OL)

William E. "Bill" Callahan (born July 31, 1956) is the Offensive Coordinator and Offensive Line coach for the Dallas Cowboys. He was formerly the head coach of the Oakland Raiders for the 2002-2003 seasons and for the University of Nebraska for the 2004-2007 seasons.

College career[edit | edit source]

Callahan was a four-year starter at quarterback at Illinois Benedictine College in Lisle, Illinois, where he was an NAIA honorable mention All-American in his final two seasons.

Early coaching career[edit | edit source]

The Chicago native began his college coaching career in 1980 as a graduate assistant at University of Illinois before being promoted to full time assistant in 1981, coaching tight ends, offensive line, quarterbacks and special teams through 1986.

Callahan served a two-year stint, 1987–1988, as offensive line coach at Northern Arizona University and one year as offensive coordinator of Southern Illinois in 1989. From 1990-1994, Callahan was offensive line coach at the Wisconsin. He has been praised by former Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez as being one of the primary reasons why the Badgers were able to turn their program around and eventually win three Rose Bowls in the 1990s. Alvarez cited Callahan specifically for his strong recruiting abilities.

Coaching career[edit | edit source]

Callahan started his NFL career as the offensive line coach for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1995 to 1997. He then spent four seasons as the Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator before being named the franchise's 13th head coach prior to the 2002 season. Callahan was the head coach of the Raiders during the 2002 and 2003 seasons.

Oakland Raiders[edit | edit source]

Callahan led the Raiders to the 2002 AFC Championship Game and a berth in Super Bowl XXXVII in his first season as a head coach, making him just the fourth rookie head coach in NFL history to do so. The Raiders suffered a lopsided defeat, losing 48-21 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coached by his former boss Jon Gruden. The Raiders finished with a 13-6 record in Callahan's first season.

Callahan is the third Raiders head coach to win an AFC West title and lead his team into the conference championship game in his first full season. Only Art Shell (1990) and John Madden (1969) had accomplished this feat.

Under Callahan's guidance, the Raiders led the NFL in passing for the first time in team history and led the league in total offense for just the second time in team history.

During his tenure as not only head coach but also offensive coordinator for the Raiders, the Raider offense led the league in rushing in 2000 and led the league in passing in 2002. In 2002, the Raiders became the first team to win games in the same season while rushing at least 60 times (against Kansas City in a 24-0 win) and passing at least 60 times (against Pittsburgh in a 30-17 win). The Raider offense also set many franchise records during this period, including fewest sacks allowed (28) in 2000, a mark that was broken the following year (27).

Despite the success of his 2002 team, the 2003 Raiders had a losing record. After his team got off to a 2-5 start, many of his players, in particular Charles Woodson, publicly demonized the coach, even suggesting that Callahan was deliberately trying to sabotage the season. Apparently, his accusations of strife and mutiny within the clubhouse were corroborated by others, including veteran receiver Tim Brown. Callahan, his supporters claim, had recognized that the team was aging and needed younger talent. To get it, he would have to cut existing salaries, an assertion that did not sit well with many of the team's veterans. On Nov. 30, after a 22-8 loss to the Denver Broncos, Callahan said the Raiders must have been "the dumbest team in America in terms of playing the game." After a lackluster 4-12 season, due to the injury to quarterback Rich Gannon and despite having led the Raiders to a Super Bowl a year earlier, Callahan was fired by Raiders owner Al Davis. Callahan was also the last Raider coach to have posted a winning season.

Nebraska Cornhuskers[edit | edit source]

Soon after being fired by the Raiders, Callahan was hired at Nebraska. This would mark the first time in over four decades (since the hiring of Bob Devaney in 1962) that the Cornhuskers would be led by a head coach with no direct ties to the university either as a player or an assistant coach.

In his first season at Nebraska (2004), Callahan finished 5-6, giving the Cornhuskers their first losing season in more than 40 years. He had introduced the West Coast offense to a program that had traditionally relied on a strong option running attack.

The Cornhuskers finished 8-4 during his second season and won the 2005 Alamo Bowl by defeating No. 20 Michigan, 32-28. The 7-4 Wolverines were the highest-ranked opponent that Nebraska had defeated since a 20-10 win over No. 2 Oklahoma in October 2001. The Wolverines also were the highest-ranked opponent defeated by Nebraska away from home since a 66-17 win over Northwestern in the 2000 Alamo Bowl.

The 2006 team finished 9-5 and won the Big 12 North for the first time since 1999. The win over then No. 24-ranked Texas A&M marked Nebraska's first ever road win over a ranked Big 12 South team.

Many expected that the 2007 season would be a breakthrough year for Nebraska. However, the team fell well short of expectations. Nebraska was beaten by USC 49-31 in a nationally-televised September 15 game, being outrushed by a 313 to 31 margin but outgaining USC in the passing game 389 to 144[1]. A 41-6 thumping by Missouri started a five-game losing streak--the Huskers' first since 1958[2]. On October 15, 2007, Steve Pederson, the athletic director who had hired Callahan, was fired. Pederson was replaced on an interim basis by Nebraska's legendary former head coach, Tom Osborne.

On November 3, the Cornhuskers suffered a 76-39 pounding at the hands of Kansas. It was the most points a Cornhusker team had ever surrendered at the time. The Huskers followed this performance a week later with a win, scoring 73 points against Kansas State.

On November 24, 2007, a day after a 65-51 loss to rival Colorado, Callahan arrived at the team's practice facility at 6:30 a.m. He met briefly with Osborne and was fired. As he left the complex, he waved to reporters gathered outside. Osborne announced during a press conference held at the school that despite Callahan's ouster[3], he would still earn $3.1 million as part of his buyout[4].

While Nebraska's defense struggled during Callahan's tenure, numerous offensive school records were set (some of which could be attributed to the dramatic change in offensive philosophy) and QB Zac Taylor was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year for 2006. Callahan's tenure as Nebraska's head coach was primarily defined by an emphasis on recruiting (something many Nebraska fans felt was lacking during the previous coach's tenure [5]). For example, with the assistance of his recruiting coordinator John Blake, Nebraska recruited DT Ndamukong Suh (2009 AP Player of the Year, Nagurski Trophy winner, Heisman Trophy finalist, etc.) although Suh later stated that he would "probably be at Oregon State right now" had Callahan not been fired [6]. Callahan's 2005 recruiting class was rated as top-five by Rivals [7] and ESPN analyst Tom Lemming said they were "No. 1, without a doubt." [8].

Despite a 27-22 record, Callahan's tenure is generally considered a failure. He led the Cornhuskers to two losing seasons in four years. He also finished ranked in a major poll only once in four years after the Huskers had only finished unranked once since 1962. He was 1-10 against teams ranked in the Top 25, 27-2 in games in which he led at halftime, 0-17 in games in which he trailed at halftime, 25-21 against Division I opponents, 15-18 against the Big 12, and coached the program to two of its four non-winning seasons in 46 years. Sports Illustrated recently named Callahan as the worst coaching hire of the decade in college football. Exacerbating Cornhusker fans' consternation with Bill Callahan's tenure at the University was his insistence that he had "done an excellent job in every area."[9]

College head coaching record[edit | edit source]

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Nebraska Cornhuskers (Big 12 Conference) (2004–2007)
2004 Nebraska 5–6 3–5 3rd (North)
2005 Nebraska 8–4 4–4 T–2nd (North) W Alamo 24 24
2006 Nebraska 9–5 6–2 1st (North) L Cotton
2007 Nebraska 5–7 2–6 T–5th (North)
Nebraska: 27–22 15–17
Total: 27–22
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
Indicates BCS bowl game. #Rankings from final Coaches' Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.

New York Jets[edit | edit source]

On January 18, 2008 Callahan was hired as Assistant Head Coach of the New York Jets. On January 2, 2009 Callahan interviewed for the Head Coach of the New York Jets.

In 2008, three of the offensive linemen (with Bill Callahan as their position coach) from the Jets were named to the Pro Bowl-center Nick Mangold, guard Alan Faneca and tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson. All three repeated in 2009. Under Callahan's direction of the running game the Jets broke the franchise record in 2009 gaining 2756 yards on the ground through 16 regular season games. They led the National Football League in rushing and averaged 4.5 yard per attempt.

For the 2009 season, sportswriter Peter King named Callahan the assistant coach of the year.[10]

References[edit | edit source]

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