Friday, November 4, 2005

Big 12 reprimands Nebraska coach

Callahan disciplined for throat-slashing gesture toward official


— Nebraska coach Bill Callahan was reprimanded publicly by the Big 12 Conference on Thursday for making an apparent throat-slashing gesture after an argument with an official during the Cornhuskers' game against Oklahoma.

The disciplinary action came five days after Callahan engaged in a heated exchange with referee Steve Usechek following Kejuan Jones' touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Cornhuskers' 31-24 loss. Callahan argued that holding should have been called on the play.

Video showed Callahan raising his right arm to his throat, index finger extended, and making a slashing motion after Usechek walked away.

Callahan has denied any wrongdoing, but has acknowledged that he made a gesture out of frustration and intended no malice toward officials.

Callahan said he didn't know what a public reprimand entailed, but he considered the incident is behind him.

"It's over. The decision's been laid down. It's over," Callahan told reporters after the team's practice Thursday afternoon.


Dave Weaver/AP Photo

Nebraska coach Bill Callahan finishes a throat-slashing gesture during Nebraska's game with Oklahoma. Callahan was slapped by the Big 12 Conference for the gesture, which he made Saturday in a 31-24 loss to Oklahoma in Lincoln, Neb.

Callahan said he talked with Nebraska athletic director Steve Pederson about the situation, and beyond that he had no further comment.

Big 12 Commissioner Kevin Weiberg noted that the kind of gesture Callahan made is prohibited by NCAA football rules.

Had a flag been thrown, Nebraska would have been penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.

"This was out of character for coach Callahan," Weiberg said. "He has been very good to work with, and his sideline demeanor had been exemplary. I have great respect for him and understand that he was acting on emotion.

"However, the Big 12 and its member institutions place tremendous emphasis on the conference's sportsmanship policy, and I believe his action in this situation constituted unsportsmanlike conduct and therefore warrants a public reprimand."

Callahan in July made a public apology for an incident at last year's game at Oklahoma where he used an expletive and called Sooner fans "hillbillies."

As coach of the Oakland Raiders in 2003, he caused a stir among his players when, after the team's ninth loss in 12 games, he said: "We've got to be the dumbest team in America."

Huskers expect 'challenge' from KU

Lincoln, Neb. (ap) - The Nebraska football team is looking forward to its game against Kansas University this weekend, coach Bill Callahan said after the team's two-hour practice Thursday inside Memorial Stadium. "We're excited to go down to Lawrence and face a good football team in Kansas," Callahan said. "They are really well coached, well disciplined in all three phases. This is going to be a real good challenge for our football team." Starting tackle Cornealius Fuamatu-Thomas practiced Thursday, having missed much of the week due to injury, Callahan said. Callahan said Fuamatu-Thomas might play Saturday, perhaps as a backup to Lydon Murtha. The Huskers will hold a short walkthrough today before leaving for Kansas.


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