Bill Callahan (American football): Wikis


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Bill Callahan
Replace this image male.svg
Date of birth July 31, 1956 (1956-07-31) (age 53)
Place of birth Chicago, Illinois
Position(s) Head Coach
Assistant Head Coach
College Benedictine
Regular season 27-22-0 (College)
15-17-0 (NFL)
Postseason 2-1 (NFL)
Career record 17-18-0 (NFL)
2006 Big 12 North
2002 AFC Championship
Coaching stats Pro Football Reference
Team(s) as a player
1975-1978 Illinois Benedictine College
Team(s) as a coach/administrator
Illinois (Assistant)
Northern Arizona (OL)
Southern Illinois (OC)
Wisconsin (OL)
Philadelphia Eagles (OL)
Oakland Raiders (OC)
Oakland Raiders
New York Jets (AHC)

Bill Callahan (born July 31, 1956 in Chicago, Illinois) is the Assistant Head Coach/Offense for the New York Jets. 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

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

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 University of Wisconsin–Madison. 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.

Professional coaching career

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 Oakland Raiders of the NFL during the 2002 and 2003 seasons.

Oakland Raiders

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, Callahan earned a reputation as one of the finest offensive minds in the NFL. 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

Nebraska allegedly initially pursued Dave Wannstedt, Al Saunders, Arkansas Head Coach Houston Nutt, and Defensive Coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys Mike Zimmer. However all of them turned the university down. Steve Spurrier was also rumored to have been given an invitation to an interview in Lincoln for the Head Coach position. Nebraska eventually settled on their fifth choice, Bill Callahan, who had recently been fired from the head coaching position at the Oakland Raiders.[1] This would mark the first time in over four decades (since the hiring of Bob Devaney in 1962) that the Nebraska 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 8-4 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. Instead the program endured new highs and lows. Nebraska was beaten by USC on September 15 , being outrushed by a 313 to 31 margin but outgaining USC in the passing game 389 to 144[2]. The team lost five consecutive games during the season for the first time since 1958[3]. During this time, Nebraska fans became hostile towards coaches, and booing the coaching staff. 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 surrendered 76 points to Kansas, the most points ever allowed by a Nebraska defense in its 117-year football history. The Huskers followed this performance a week later with a win, scoring 73 points against Kansas State, marking the first time in history that a team has given up over 70 points in a loss only to score 73 points in a win a week later. The loss broke the previous Nebraska record for most points allowed in a game (70) by Texas Tech in 2004, Bill Callahan's first season.

On November 24, 2007, a day after a 65-51 loss to rival Colorado, Callahan arrived to 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 Bill's "contract would not be renewed the following season"[4], but due to a contract extension given to him by Steve Pederson earlier in the year Callahan will still earn $3.1 million as part of his buyout[5]. Callahan had a 27-22 record in Lincoln (making him the worst Nebraska coach in 46 years based on win percentage), Callahan 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. Sport's Illustrated recently named Callahan as the worst coaching hire of the decade. 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."[6]

While Nebraska's defense struggled during Callahan's tenure, numerous offensive school records were set and QB Zac Taylor was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year for 2006. He was a strong recruiter: for example, Callahan 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" if Callahan had not been fired [7].

College head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl Coaches# AP°
Nebraska Cornhuskers (Big 12 Conference) (2004–2007)
2004 Nebraska 5-6 3-5 3 * NR NR
2005 Nebraska 8-4 4-4 2T * W 32-28 Alamo Bowl 24 24
2006 Nebraska 9-5 6-2 1 * L 17-14 Cotton Bowl Classic NR NR
2007 Nebraska 5-7 2-6 5T * NR NR
Nebraska: 27-22 15-17 * Big 12 North Division
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

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 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.

Callahan was named the assistant coach of the year by Peter King, the well respected NFL writer for Sports Illustrated on January 4th, 2009.


  1. ^ Callahan fired by Raiders
  2. ^ USC offensive line dominates matchup with Nebraska
  3. ^ "SI Viewcast recap: Nebraska @ Kansas 2007".  
  4. ^ "Nebraska Fires Callahan". (The Disney Company). November 24, 2007. Retrieved 2008-03-10.  
  5. ^ Callahan Fired As Nebraska Coach
  6. ^ Callahan comes out firing
  7. ^ "Ndamukong Suh says he almost transferred to Oregon State after the 2007 season".  
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Jon Gruden
Oakland Raiders Head Coaches
Succeeded by
Norv Turner
Preceded by
Frank Solich (Season Coach)
Bo Pelini (interim)
Nebraska Cornhuskers Football Coach
Succeeded by
Bo Pelini

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