LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -The next Nebraska coach doesn't necessarily have to have ties to the school, but Tom Osborne says the Cornhuskers' next leader must have an understanding of the program's unique culture and history.
LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini, who held the same job with the Huskers in 2003, and Buffalo coach Turner Gill, a former star quarterback at Nebraska, would qualify.
Pelini was interviewed by Osborne in Baton Rouge, La., on Sunday, according to the Lincoln Journal Star, citing unidentified sources.
Buffalo athletic director Warde Manuel gave permission to Osborne, Nebraska's interim athletic director, to speak with Gill, Buffalo sports information director Paul Vecchio told The Associated Press. He said an interview had not yet been scheduled.
Gill and Pelini didn't return messages left by The Associated Press.
One of the criticisms of Bill Callahan, who was fired Saturday, was that he didn't understand or appreciate the fans' passion and high expectations. Both were inflated during Osborne's coaching career, a 25-year period that saw the Huskers average 10 wins a season and win three national championships.
``I think it's pretty important that they have a good grasp of it,'' Osborne said of prospective candidates. ``I think most people in football have a kind of peripheral sense of what it is like.''
Gill and Pelini top the list of names mentioned most often as possible successors to Callahan.
Gill quarterbacked the Huskers in the early 1980s and was an assistant under Osborne and Frank Solich. He left in 2004, after Callahan's first season.
Pelini was the Huskers' defensive coordinator under Solich in 2003 after working eight years as an NFL assistant.
Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez's name has been bandied, but he said Sunday he has no interest in a return to coaching. Alvarez, who stepped down as Badgers' coach in 2005, played linebacker at Nebraska in 1965-67.
``I've got the job I want right now,'' Alvarez said.
Osborne said it would be ``nice'' if the next coach already had experience at Nebraska.
``But that's not going to be exclusive,'' Osborne said. ``I'm not going to make that a prerequisite. So I'll just try to find the best candidate. And it takes two people to agree. I may talk to some people that have Nebraska ties that want no part of it.''
Among other names to surface in media reports are Rutgers' Greg Schiano, Cincinnati's Brian Kelly, Boise State's Chris Petersen, Navy's Paul Johnson and South Florida's Jim Leavitt.
Schiano said he had not been contacted by Nebraska and declined further comment. Kelly also declined to comment.
Petersen, Johnson and Leavitt did not return messages left at their offices and through their schools' sports information departments.
Whoever the coach is, Osborne envisions a return to the days when Nebraska teams played a bruising brand of football and cultivated many of their best players from within the state.
Callahan junked Osborne and Solich's triple-option for the West Coast offense, and the Huskers seemed to lose their hard edge. Under Osborne and Solich, some of the most ferocious hitting occurred on the practice field. Under Callahan, practices in full pads were uncommon.
Osborne said he also wants the new coach to embrace the atmosphere, which means showing respect for the program's past, being visible and building the trust of fans and players.
``You want somebody whose word is good,'' Osborne said. ``It's very important in recruiting that the players trust you. That what you tell them is going to happen.
``You want somebody that knows football and has a good work ethic. You want somebody that can motivate. Some people know football, but they really don't get people to play hard for them. Again, I'm not saying that's the case (with the previous staff). But you've got to get players to play hard.''
Osborne said he won't mandate a particular style of offense, but he said some facets of the old triple-option remain effective.
``I think it's really hard in college football if you don't have some mobility in your quarterback, to be successful,'' he said. ``You need to have the ability to run the football once in a while and scramble for a first down. The rest of it, I don't know. The new coach will have to decide.''

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