LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -Tom Osborne is returning to Nebraska to temporarily run the Cornhuskers' athletic department and possibly determine the fate of Bill Callahan.
University chancellor Harvey Perlman announced the return of the Huskers' former coach Tuesday in a news release. A news conference was scheduled for later.
The 70-year-old Osborne's return to the athletic department comes a day after athletic director Steve Pederson was fired.
It was 10 years ago that Osborne finished a celebrated coaching career that culminated with three national championships in four seasons.
Osborne met with Perlman on Tuesday morning to discuss the job, and Osborne agreed to serve until the chancellor hires a permanent athletic director.
``I've spent the majority of my life working with the athletic department at the university, and I want to do what I can at this point to continue in the pursuit of excellence that has been previously established,'' Osborne said in the release.
Perlman said Monday the athletic director - interim or permanent - would be charged with deciding whether Callahan would continue to lead a football program that has fallen on hard times.
``I am very pleased that Tom Osborne has agreed to help bring some leadership and direction to our athletic program,'' Perlman said. ``Tom is committed to making the entire program successful. He brings the right experience, an understanding of Nebraska, and our aspirations. I look forward to working with him.''
Since leaving coaching, Osborne has served three terms in Congress, made an unsuccessful gubernatorial run, taught in the university's business school and worked as a consultant for local college athletic departments.
Though his name is on Nebraska's athletic department headquarters, he has been mostly dissociated from the Cornhuskers' program since Callahan became coach in January 2004.
Osborne recommended Pederson for the athletic director's job in 2003, but their relationship soured after Pederson fired Frank Solich. Solich had been Osborne's longtime assistant man and hand-picked successor, and Pederson did not consult with Osborne before making the move.
Now, with Pederson gone, Osborne is expected to play a major role in deciding the fate of Callahan, whose team is 4-3 this season after a string of disappointing performances.
The beloved Osborne is seen as someone who can unify a fractured fan and donor base.
Osborne's return is a back-to-the-future move for Nebraska. He joined the Huskers' coaching staff in 1962 under Bob Devaney, who established a culture that made football a point of pride in this state of 1.7 million.
Osborne became head coach in 1973. He built upon that Devaney tradition and gave Nebraska a unique identity with its powerful running attack and reliance on hardworking, homegrown players.
The triple option remained a staple under Solich, as did the tremendously popular walk-on program.
Callahan ditched the option in favor of a West Coast system and, in a move that upset the fans, greatly reduced the walk-on program.
Callahan has not completely severed ties with Nebraska's past, but he made it clear he wanted to move the program in a different direction. The public's patience with Callahan has waned as he has failed to go through a season with fewer than four losses.
Along with winning all or part of three national titles, the Huskers won 12 Big Eight titles and one Big 12 title under Osborne.
Of Osborne's 25 teams, 17 finished in the top 10. His career coaching record was 255-49-3.
Upon his retirement, the College Football Hall of Fame waived its customary three-year wait for entry and inducted Osborne in December 1998.
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