Nebraska football Coach Frank Solich was fired Saturday night after winning more than 75% of his games over six seasons but failing to keep the Cornhuskers as the national powerhouse they were under Tom Osborne.
The firing by Athletic Director Steve Pederson was first reported by the Omaha World-Herald and the Lincoln Journal Star.
"He's pretty strong, but he's disappointed tonight," Solich's son-in-law Jon Dalton told Associated Press.
"I don't know the reason behind it," Dalton said. "Get Steve to tell you. This is a sad day for the state of Nebraska."
Solich and Pederson could not be reached for comment. Nebraska spokespeople Chris Anderson and Keith Mann did not immediately return telephone messages left by Associated Press late Saturday.
Solich had just finished a 9-3 regular season with Friday's 31-22 victory at Colorado. He was 58-19 in six seasons.
Pinnacle Sports Network, the rights holder for Nebraska radio broadcasts, reported that first-year defensive coordinator Bo Pelini would be the interim head coach.
The current group of assistants will coach the team in Nebraska's upcoming bowl game. It was unknown whether any of the assistants will be retained after that game.
"Frank just said it was over, and that [Pederson] would be contacting us," offensive coordinator Barney Cotton told the Lincoln Journal Star.
Solich took over after Osborne retired after the 1997 season. The Cornhuskers won at least a share of the national title in three of Osborne's final four seasons.
Solich was 42-9 in his first four seasons. He was Big 12 coach of the year in 1999 and 2001, won the 1999 conference title, and his team played for the national championship after the 2001 season.
But Solich's success was downplayed because critics said he won with players recruited by Osborne.
The Cornhuskers went 7-7 in 2002 -- the team's worst season since 1961 -- and struggled against quality opponents this season.
Their three losses all were by more than 17 points, capped by a 38-9 loss to Kansas State -- Nebraska's worst at home since 1958 -- in the final home game of the season.
Solich's record for his six seasons was 58-19.
The last Nebraska head football coach to be fired was Bill Jennings, who was removed and replaced by Bob Devaney in 1962.
Solich played fullback for Nebraska from 1963 to '65. He was assistant to Osborne for 19 years beginning in 1979.
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Men of Lincoln
Frank Solich's six-year record at Nebraska compared to Tom Osborne's last six with the Cornhuskers:
FRANK SOLICH (1998-03)
*--* Year W L T Bowl AP Rank 1998 9 4 0 Lost in Holiday 19 1999 12 1 0 Won Fiesta 3 2000 10 2 0 Won Alamo 8 2001 11 2 0 Lost in Rose 8 2002 7 7 0 Lost in Independence NR 2003 9 3 0 Non-BCS TBA
Total: 58-19-0 (.753 winning percentage) Bowl record: 2-3
Conference Titles: 1
TOM OSBORNE (1992-97)
*--* Year W L T Bowl AP Rank 1992 9 3 0 Lost in Orange 14 1993 11 1 0 Lost in Orange 3 1994 13 0 0 Won Orange 1* 1995 12 0 0 Won Fiesta 1* 1996 11 2 0 Won Orange 6 1997 13 0 0 Won Orange 1* Total: 69-6-0 (.920 winning percentage) Bowl record: 4-2
Conference titles: 5 * Won national championship
Source: Nebraska football media guide