LINCOLN - Nebraska head coach Bill Callahan declared a state of emergency here Wednesday, just ahead of a crucial administrative decision on whether to overturn his hiring amid rising point totals against his defense, while also restating his refusal to resign.
Meanwhile, police deployed to protect Callahan delivered menacing looks and folded their arms at protesting supporters of former coach Tom Osborne demonstrating outside Hawks Championship Center, deepening a political crisis triggered by the imposition of the West Coast playbook.
Riot police prepare to meet unsettlingly ruly Nebraska fans.
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Reporters saw hundreds of protesters pushing red durable nylon seat cushions with velcro straps and cushioned back support into ranks of riot police blocking their path toward the center, where the media relations department reported that university administrators unanimously endorsed Callahan's declaration of emergency rule and reminded protestors "Toys for Tots" was set for collection at Saturday's game with Kansas State.
Police sternly cautioned several activists who broke through the line, some of them women, and confiscated fannypacks from at least six people at the scene. The demonstrators pulled back amid a cloud of steam rising from the coffee some had brought the officers, chanting "Osborne! Osborne!" and "Down with the quick slant!" while apologizing for forgetting the half and half and offering to go back to the store, which would be no trouble, really.
Thousands of protestors and other perceived dissidents rounded up since Callahan declared a state of emergency have been herded into makeshift taxi services back to the office or had parking passes revoked, and three days of protests by season ticket holders have been quickly put down with a combination of crime scene tape and offers of two-for-one buffets at the Golden Corral.
"I want that [Callahan] gone yesterday," said Phil "Pint a Minute" Mularkey, an Osborne supporter who wore a faded, homemade Zach Wiegert jersey and taunted police with a sign bearing a diagram of the triple option. "But hey, Kabob Thursdays don't come along every night of the week," adding as he schlepped from the front line, "Just the one night."
Shockingly non-violent clashes with Osborne's supporters could increase the uncertainty engulfing the program. Callahan, who has not been seen in public since his team's embarrassing, record-breaking defeat at Kansas, set a collision course with Osborne on Wednesday by unexpectedly backing embattled defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove's controversial "Medieval Times" defense, consisting of nine men at the line of scrimmage instructed to treat ballcarriers as if they had the plague. Callahan called the defense "innovative" and "unconventional," and praised Cosgrove for "staying the course" in the face of critics, many of whom the coach then had detained under accusations of treason for reporting "highly classified information," such as the scores and yardage totals during the Huskers' five-game losing streak.
Lil' Red, in better days, contemplates the Huskers' fate.
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Most of those detainees have escaped the Champions Center, as they were being guarded by the Husker two-deep defensive line. They are expected to go into exile, or meet up at an alumni meeting in Bellevue next Monday, to be catered by Gail's Traveling Gallery.
Through a spokesman, Callahan has also denied reports that his staff told players "Don't go out there and rush the passer." He also denied that beloved "Lil' Red" had been deflated and decapitated on his orders with plans to run the jolly mascot's limp remains up a flag poll in Memorial Stadium as a grisly display of resolve, or that he ordered Herbie Husker's traditional cowboy hat to be replaced with an interwar Parisian berét, though he has not commented on whether he would rescind his longstanding order that Sam Keller use Yakko Warner's "Nations of the World" as a snap count.
"No question," Callahan said Saturday before declaring the state of emergecy, while loading a pistol he keeps in his first desk drawer. "Everything is proceeding spledidly. I'm the coach at Nebraska. I've coached in the Super Bowl. I'm right where I want to be. I'm going to finish my career in Nebraska."