Bo Pelini is the new coach at Nebraska, leaving the defensive coordinator post at LSU for a job many Cornhuskers fans thought he should have been given 4 years ago.

Interim athletic director and former coach Tom Osborne announced Pelini's hiring yesterday, after introducing him to the players.

"We need a head coach with strong defensive credentials and great leadership," Osborne said. "We were also looking for someone who can inspire confidence and get players to play with great effort.

"And, of course, we also wanted our new head coach to understand our traditions, including the importance of our walk-on program and the importance of football in this state."

It's the first head-coaching job for Pelini, 39, who spent 3 years at LSU orchestrating one of the nation's top defenses. He replaces Bill Callahan, fired Nov. 24 after the Huskers' second losing season in 4 years.

Unlike Callahan, a former NFL coach many Nebraska fans never felt comfortable with, Pelini doesn't come to the football-crazed state as a stranger.

Pelini was interim coach after Frank Solich was fired following the 2003 regular season and went on to coach the Huskers to an Alamo Bowl victory over Michigan State. As he walked off the field in San Antonio, Husker fans chanted "We want Bo."

Pelini had been a candidate for the Nebraska job after Solich's firing and was interviewed by former athletic director Steve Pederson, who elected to go with Callahan.

Osborne had said that the next coach didn't have to have Nebraska ties. Pelini was only at Nebraska for a year, but his no-nonsense style of coaching defense and fiery demeanor quickly made him a popular figure.

Osborne interviewed Pelini and Buffalo coach Turner Gill, a former star Nebraska quarterback, longtime assistant at the school and friend of Osborne's.

The Huskers finished 5-7 after losing 65-51 at Colorado. They also were embarrassed at Kansas, 76-39.

Noteworthy

* Utah has accepted a bid to play Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl Dec. 20 in San Diego.

* Oklahoma State will make its fifth bowl appearance in 6 years when it meets the University of Indiana on Dec. 31 at the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Ariz.

* California will meet Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl Dec. 31 in Fort Worth, Texas.

* Left out of the BCS, No. 12 Arizona State will play No. 17 Texas in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27 in San Diego.

* Tennessee will play Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla., on Jan. 1.

* Wake Forest accepted a bid to play in the Meineke Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., where it will meet Connecticut.

* Connecticut coach Randy Edsall has withdrawn his name from consideration from the vacancy at Georgia Tech.

* Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe released defensive coordinator Mike Cassity and offensive coordinator Charlie Stubbs resigned just days after the Cardinals stumbled to a 6-6 season.

Jeff Brohm, a former Louisville star whose brother Brian just finished his career with the Cardinals, was promoted to offensive coordinator. Jeff Brohm served as assistant head coach, quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator this season. *