Callahan: OU fans' shoddy treatment sparked outburst
By ERIC OLSON
AP Sports Writer
LINCOLN, Neb. - While acknowledging he used a poor choice of words in a profane outburst directed at Oklahoma fans Saturday, Nebraska coach Bill Callahan said he was upset because a group of hecklers were allowed so close to his players during warm-ups and oranges were thrown onto the field late in the game.
As he walked toward the Nebraska locker room after a 30-3 loss, Callahan looked into the stands and called OU fans "------- hillbillies."
"I'm an emotional guy, and I'm a competitive coach, and on the field I stick up for my players," Callahan said Monday on the Big 12 coaches teleconference. "I don't think any team should be subjected to the type of treatment we were subjected to in that particular contest."
According to The Oklahoman newspaper of Oklahoma City, Nebraska backup offensive lineman Darren DeLone assaulted a member of the OU student spirit group, the Ruf/Neks, during warm-ups.
Adam Merritt was transported from Owen Field on a medical cart and taken to a hospital after having several teeth knocked out and suffering facial cuts, The Oklahoman reported.
A statement from the Nebraska athletic department, without naming any player, described the incident as a "collision." The statement said NU medical personnel assisted Merritt and that the athletic department was "sorry the accident happened."
Callahan said he could not comment on the specifics of the incident because he did not see it.
"I feel really, really terrible for that young man who got hurt," he said.
OU police said they would have no comment until finishing their investigation, probably on Tuesday.
The Ruf/Neks are a tradition at Oklahoma. From their position in one of the end zones, the students shoot pop guns and heckle opposing teams. Callahan said it's a dangerous environment because of the proximity of the students to the opposing players.
"It's inevitable something is going to happen," Callahan said. "For game management or athletic administration to not recognize that, it's astounding to me."
Callahan said he was taken aback by the thrown oranges late in the game. The orange toss was symbolic of Oklahoma's hopes of playing for the national championship in the Orange Bowl.
Between the pop guns going off before the game and flying oranges, Callahan said he snapped as he walked off the field.
"I probably could have used a better choice of words, but I am distressed when people are shooting off guns and throwing fruit at our players," Callahan said. "I just have a hard time with that. It's a part of the game, I guess. I'm trying to learn this the best I can. But I think it's out of control."
My take.... Bill should realize, the Ruf/Neks have been around almost 90 years. So his complaint is probably the only one out of, hmmm, 600 games? Nebraska player hurts someone on the field? Hmm, anyone remember the fan who got PUNCHED? I heckled from my 3rd row seat. I said, "run the draw", um, "put your hands up", and "nice West Coast offense". No oranges thrown from my section.