OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -Nebraska interim athletic director Tom Osborne responded Thursday to reports that football coach Bill Callahan said the former coach was ``trying to run things from Washington'' while he was a U.S. congressman.
Callahan allegedly called Osborne a ``crusty old (expletive),'' according to former Nebraska football trainer Doak Ostergard, who is quoted in a book to be self-published by a student at the University of Nebraska.
Osborne became interim athletic director this week when Steve Pederson was fired after several dismal performances by the football team.
``I understand that head football coaches, like everyone else, have emotions,'' Osborne said Thursday. ``I'm not surprised that my long-term influence on the program could sometimes be felt as a controlling force even while I was away, but that was never the intent.''
In a statement Thursday, Callahan didn't deny the reported comments, but said he's had a great deal of respect for Osborne since he started coaching.
``We embrace Coach Osborne and everything he stands for,'' Callahan said.
``The Nebraska Way,'' by Jonathan Crowl, is expected to be available in some bookstores by early November. It's being published by iUniverse Inc., which lets authors pay to publish their work, according to its Web site.
Crowl provided an early copy to the Daily Nebraskan, the university's student newspaper, where Crowl is a sports reporter covering the football team.
Ostergard didn't immediately return a message left by The Associated Press on Thursday. He told the Omaha World-Herald Wednesday that the book was accurate.
Ostergard, a 1984 Nebraska graduate from Gothenburg, was on the athletic training staff for 18 years and head football trainer for nine. He was hired by Osborne and retained by Frank Solich and Callahan.
Ostergard said in February he wasn't given a reason for his dismissal, and Callahan and Pederson wouldn't discuss Ostergard's departure at the time.
The book also quotes former players - including Mike Minter - on accounts of animosity in the athletic department during Pederson's tenure.
Minter, who spent 10 years with the Carolina Panthers, told the Daily Nebraskan that when he played under Osborne, ``It felt like a family atmosphere.''
``Now it's like Fort Knox,'' Minter said.
Osborne already has apparently relaxed the atmosphere, e-mailing former players Wednesday and telling them to ``feel free to come visit us - anytime.''
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