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19 Cards in this Set

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LINCOLN - When spring comes and Nebraska's quarterback race becomes officially intriguing, perhaps Coach Bill Callahan will thank a youngster in the stands of Saturday's Nebraska-Creighton game, a rather nosy kid who approached Zac Taylor and asked if he was the quarterback he'd read about in the paper.

"It was kind of neat," Taylor said. "It made me realize how big of a deal football is to these Nebraska fans."

The junior-college star said yes to the Cornhuskers Saturday, becoming the 21st commitment out of the Class of 2005. Taylor will start school in January, compete in spring practice, then battle incumbent Joe Dailey and hotshot freshman Harrison Beck for the job in the fall.
"New recruit adds depth to Huskers at quarterback." The Omaha World Herald. 13 December 2004. 13 December 2004 <www.omaha.com>.
If you ask at least one recruiting expert, Taylor's commitment could be one of the most significant in the Huskers' top-ranked recruiting class.

"It's a very good catch. I thought it was a necessary catch," says ESPN recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. "I mean, Coach (Bill) Callahan took a ton of heat this year for trying to put option guys into a passing offense. If something happened to Harrison next year, they'd be in the same boat.
"New recruit adds depth to Huskers at quarterback." The Omaha World Herald. 13 December 2004. 13 December 2004 <www.omaha.com>.
"Harrison is the golden boy. He'll be given every opportunity to start. But I'm not quite sure that's ready. Taylor is more than insurance. He has two years on Harrison, and I think he's one of the top juco quarterbacks in the country."

Taylor pledged to Nebraska in the middle of his recruiting visit, just after the basketball game, ending a courtship that lasted less than three weeks. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound pro-style quarterback caught Callahan's eye after he threw for more than 2,600 yards and led Butler (Kan.) Community College to an 11-1 record this fall.
"New recruit adds depth to Huskers at quarterback." The Omaha World Herald. 13 December 2004. 13 December 2004 <www.omaha.com>.
Memphis, Maryland, Marshall, Illinois and Troy were also interested in Taylor, whose father, Sherwood, played defensive back for Oklahoma in the late 1970s.

Taylor's parents accompanied him on the recruiting trip, and they attended NU's football banquet Saturday night.

"My dad loves it," Taylor said. "It's always been a respected rivalry. It's just weird being on the opposite end of the spectrum."
"New recruit adds depth to Huskers at quarterback." The Omaha World Herald. 13 December 2004. 13 December 2004 <www.omaha.com>.
Taylor said he knows of Beck, one of the top prep quarterbacks in the country, and said he's "obviously a very talented player." He also knows Callahan and Offensive Coordinator Jay Norvell wouldn't have recruited him if they didn't think he could play.

The quarterback situation was the subject of consternation among Husker fans in 2004. Dailey, a true sophomore, was thrust into a new West Coast Offense and experienced growing pains. He threw 19 interceptions. His little-used backup, freshman Beau Davis, had four picks in one game.
"New recruit adds depth to Huskers at quarterback." The Omaha World Herald. 13 December 2004. 13 December 2004 <www.omaha.com>.
"They expect me to come in and compete or the job," Taylor said. "They believe I'm good enough to come in and start if I beat everybody out. I think I have the potential to start if I do all the things I need to do.

"I like the opportunities they're giving me. I don't think there's any added pressure. Pressure comes with being a quarterback."
"New recruit adds depth to Huskers at quarterback." The Omaha World Herald. 13 December 2004. 13 December 2004 <www.omaha.com>.
LINCOLN - After hearing months of Steve Pederson bashing, a little-known Omaha philanthropist made a statement Wednesday that the world isn't against the Nebraska athletic director.

A $5 million statement.

Pederson announced that Charles and Romona Myers are writing a $5 million check for the stadium expansion project, a gift that is being called the largest single donation in the history of the athletic department.
"Huskers receive $5 million donation." The Omaha World Herald. 9 December 2004. 13 December 2004 <www.omaha.com>.
Charles Myers, who is called "Charlie" by Pederson, ponied up the money just two weeks after the Cornhuskers completed a 5-6 football season.

"When your friends are on the line, it's time to stand up and try to help them a little," Myers said. "I think they're taking a lot of heat, and they're handling it well. I guess time will tell us if they're right or wrong."
"Huskers receive $5 million donation." The Omaha World Herald. 9 December 2004. 13 December 2004 <www.omaha.com>.
Charles Myers is chief executive officer of the Omaha-based Myers Group, which includes the Freezer Services cold storage warehouse company.

Myers is known in Iowa for writing a $7 million check to the University of Dubuque when it looked as if the school would go bankrupt.

He said he shelled out that money on a "gut feeling," just like he's doing with a football program with a new coach and a season that failed to produce a bowl trip for the first time in 36 years.
"Huskers receive $5 million donation." The Omaha World Herald. 9 December 2004. 13 December 2004 <www.omaha.com>.
Pederson said the money will go for the Myers Performance Center for Student-Athletes, which will house the strength complex, locker rooms and training facilities.

Myers, from Davenport, Iowa, has been a longtime season ticket-holder at NU, and his ties to the program go back to the Bob Devaney era. He met Pederson during the A.D.'s earlier stint as recruiting coordinator, and they became friends when Pederson returned to NU in late 2002.

Pederson called the money a "tremendous shot of momentum" for the project, which has a $50 million pricetag. He said the Myers gift raises the donation total to more than $20 million.
"Huskers receive $5 million donation." The Omaha World Herald. 9 December 2004. 13 December 2004 <www.omaha.com>.
An evening press conference was called at the Bob Devaney Sports Center to announce the donation, and a framed football jersey with Myers' name on the back was placed near the podium.

Myers splits his time between Omaha and Scottsdale, Ariz., and said he climbed to the top of his profession by making tough decisions, much like Pederson.

Myers compared the A.D.'s firing of Coach Frank Solich to the time he had to fire a plant manager.
"Huskers receive $5 million donation." The Omaha World Herald. 9 December 2004. 13 December 2004 <www.omaha.com>.
"It wasn't much fun," he said. "If things aren't clicking, you have to do something about it."

After the press conference, Myers answered a cell phone call from Bill Callahan. The NU football coach said he was out recruiting but appreciated the donation.

Myers, who has never met Callahan, cracked a joke.

"I'm drunker than a hoot owl," he told Callahan.

The two laughed, and Myers left, hoping his gift inspired others to open their pockets.
"Huskers receive $5 million donation." The Omaha World Herald. 9 December 2004. 13 December 2004 <www.omaha.com>.
LINCOLN - The end of an era was quiet, almost frozen, with grown men welling up with tears and fans hanging over the rafters, trying to figure out what to do.

For the first time in 36 years, Nebraska is a football team with nowhere to go after Friday's 26-20 loss to Colorado on a cold, gloomy day at Memorial Stadium.
"Nebraska is bowled over." The Omaha World Herlad. 27 November 2004. 13 December 2004 <www.omaha.com>.
Gone is the bowl streak, the NCAA's longest, that stood since 1969.

Gone are the 42 years without a losing season.

"To the fans, I want to say I'm sorry we let you down," said NU linebacker Chad Sievers, who fought back tears as one of the last of the school's cherished records fell Saturday. (Only one remains: consecutive stadium sellouts - 268, dating to Nov. 3, 1962.)
"Nebraska is bowled over." The Omaha World Herlad. 27 November 2004. 13 December 2004 <www.omaha.com>.
"To the young kids, I want to say keep battling. It's going to get better. It's going to get better."

As the 5-6 season was sealed, a strapping 17-year-old quarterback recruit named Harrison Beck stared into the corner of the south end zone, where Colorado was dancing and singing the school fight song. Beck, a hotshot Florida star who committed to NU this summer, is affectionately referred to by Husker fans as "The Future."
"Nebraska is bowled over." The Omaha World Herlad. 27 November 2004. 13 December 2004 <www.omaha.com>.
The past was hard enough to stomach Friday. In three short years, a program that was feared everywhere dropped to everyday status. First came the end of the 33-year run in the polls in 2002. Then the nine-win season streak fell.

But the bowl run was something Nebraskans still had, one last bragging right, one last record. It was all but over with 11:07 left in the second quarter, when Bobby Purify reversed field and scampered in for a 9-yard touchdown that put the Buffs up 17-0.
"Nebraska is bowled over." The Omaha World Herlad. 27 November 2004. 13 December 2004 <www.omaha.com>.
Most of the sellout crowd stuck around until the end, even when it looked hopeless, even when the Buffs went into the fourth quarter with a 19-point lead. Maybe they wanted to see history.

Turner Gill, a former Nebraska quarterback and a longtime assistant, said he never thought he'd see the day when the bowl streak ended. But times have changed, he said.
"Nebraska is bowled over." The Omaha World Herlad. 27 November 2004. 13 December 2004 <www.omaha.com>.
It kind of stinks," said Nebraska fan J.J. Thomsen, who made a dash for the exits with seven minutes to go. "It's frustrating, but the sun will come up tomorrow and we'll play football again next year.

"I'm going home to take care of my horses. That'll be easier."

Through all the highs and lows of 2004, Nebraska fans seemed to stay behind first-year Coach Bill Callahan, who inherited a team that went 10-3 but finished with the worst record since 1961. One fan held up a sign that read, "ABC - Always Behind Callahan."
"Nebraska is bowled over." The Omaha World Herlad. 27 November 2004. 13 December 2004 <www.omaha.com>.
Callahan said progress, and implementing a new offense, takes time. After the game, he wasn't in the mood to talk about the streak.

"I have no comment on that," Callahan said. "I really don't. We did the best we could today. It was one game today, one season. . . .

"I see bright days ahead. I really do. I'm optimistic about where we're going and the direction we're heading."

On a gray, history-making day in Lincoln, the only place Nebraska was heading was home, for a long, cold winter.
"Nebraska is bowled over." The Omaha World Herlad. 27 November 2004. 13 December 2004 <www.omaha.com>.