Bo Pelini Should Be Coaching His Last Game As Nebraska's Head Coach Today


Ten years ago Frank Solich and the Nebraska Cornhuskers were going into Black Friday looking to take down their rival Buffalos from Colorado. Solich had just come off a terrible year, but after making a few changes to his coaching staff Nebraska looked improved.  A win against Colorado would lock up the benchmark of 9 wins, one that Solich had failed to hit in 2002.

Fast forward to November 29th, 2013 and Bo Pelini is taking on the Hawkeyes from Iowa. There is absolutely nothing on the line, other than the same nine win benchmark Solich lived up to a decade ago. .

Pelini, too, is coming off of a year that was disappointing year for Nebraska. While they hit that nine win benchmark, which should be called a plateau, things ended poorly in The Big Ten Championship and Capital One Bowl.  Once again he is looking for a nine win regular season. That mythical,  unimportant ninth win that so many fans can’t seem to let go of.

Just as the firing of Frank Solich after the Colorado game in 2003 was debated and scrutinized, so will Bo Pelini being let go after today’s game. Sure, the game still has to be played and we don’t yet know if Bo’s bunch will win, but today should have no impact on the administrations decision to keep him or let him go.

Here it is, that point in the argument where 50 percent of you will start shouting about how there are only a few teams that have won 9 games over the past six years. That those teams include Oregon, Alabama, and Boise State. Yep, it’s true. They have won at least  nine games per season just like Bo Pelini and his Cornhuskers. They have also won conference championships and appeared in BCS Bowl games, and Bama has even pulled in several BCS Championships  over the last six seasons. That is  something that Bo Pelini’s Huskers have failed to do.

“But, but it took Tom Osborne over 20 years to win his first national title.” I know some of you are thinking it, come on admit it. Yes, it took him over 20 seasons to finally win the big one, but the team was relevant each and every year. Dr. Tom always had his team ready, and they often competed for or were in the mix for the national title. They had an identity. Sure that identity evolved with time. Evolution is something else that this program has lacked under Bo’s direction.

Husker Nation is divided about Pelini. Many will be angry when he is let go (sure I am taking a chance assuming that he will be fired, but I honestly don’t know how he keeps his job) later this evening or Saturday afternoon. There will be people who are happy that Pelini is gone, although I don’t believe that anyone should be happy at the expense of someone losing their job.

Honestly, how Pelini’s departure will be viewed depends completely on how Shawn Eichorst handles the search for a new head coach. What you don’t want is the same circus that rolled into town back in 2003-2004. We all remember the airplane that was waiting for Houston Nutt down in Arkansas, and how that plane left empty without a new head coach for the Huskers. We all remember how Bill Callahan ended up being the guy. He might have been the only guy at the time willing to take the job.

Then we remember Tom Osborne dismissing Callahan and conducting a brief search that ended with Pelini taking the helm. It was up to Bo to get the Huskers back on track and fix a badly fractured Blackshirt defense. Pelini has stabilized the program, bringing it from critical condition (a program on the verge of collapse) to fair condition (alive but nationally irrelevant). It’s time the administration finds the guy, the right guy to lead Nebraska into the future.

If Bo Pelini keeps his job, then Eichorst has basically punted the decision down the road for another year. He might even point to Pelini’s Huskers turning a corner during the season, which is true enough. The problem is Pelini’s teams have been making left turns for the past six seasons and the program is headed for another unless a change is made.

There is no room or time for any more adjustments or coordinator changes to be allowed. For six seasons Pelini has hired his friends and promoted them out of comfort. They are his guys, yes men if you will. Pelini has failed to see realities in the flaws of his systems on both sides of the ball. I’m not inferring that Pelini’s systems can’t work, but if you had outside eyes on your staff who bring a different perspective maybe it wouldn’t take his defense six years to learn the art of a form tackle.

Shawn Eichorst needs to go for it on fourth down instead of punting this coaching change. He needs to find a coach who surrounds himself with the right guys and isn’t afraid to ask for help when needed. He needs to find someone who can respect Nebraska’s past while leading the team into the future even if it means being unconventional. Someone who understands that nine wins are nice but ten, eleven, and twelve win seasons are also expected every few years.

Losing to Minnesota can’t happen. Losing twice a year at home is unacceptable. Five turnovers in a game cannot be allowed. While perennial national championships should not be expected out of Nebraska, being a household name in the final weekend in November isn’t asking too much. Competing for and winning conference championships on occasion seems like a reasonable request. Mr. Eichorst, it’s time to make changes in Lincoln and pony up the money it takes to bring in a proven head coach, not another hot coordinator. Go out and find a guy who knows how to win, knows how to win big games, and will be happy to spend the next 10-15 years restoring the brand that is Nebraska Cornhuskers Football.



Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Bo Pelini Coaching Change Fired Nebraska Cornhuskers Football Shawn Eichorst

  • VictorERojo

    Wrong again, John

    • John Ackeren

      I respectfully disagree Victor. He might not get fired, was just voicing my honest opinion.

  • Mike Seaton

    You ask for a lot. This is a different time than Osborne. Scholarship, walk on and other regulations have evened the playing field. Dr Tom couldn’t win the big one either for years.

    Bo finally hasteam that’s playing like a team. He has a lot of young players learning the system. He didn’t step into an established system and go from there.

    Get off your high horse!

    • John Ackeren

      Mike, I understand your point of view and respect it, but I believe that asking for a team that is at least in the conversation for a BCS Bowl birth, the occasional run at a national championship, and winning a conference championship every now and then is not asking that much. I wasn’t suggesting that Nebraska should be winning 12 games every season but they should be able to hit that mark every five years or so.

      • jack

        Bo is a child how can we pay him to keep embarrassing our state every time we r on a national stage. He is suppose to b a leader and tantrums r uncalled for even once let alone every game!

      • Phony Balogna

        John i would argue that the 3 championship games that we’ve been to with Bo (yes i know we lost all 3 and the 2 to finish the Big 12 were heartbreaking) are more than enough to be considered “In the conversation for a BCS Bowl Birth”. Also if Bo didnt have to deal with conference championship games he would already have at least a share of more than 1 conference championship. I respect your opinion but i think you are taking a very pessimistic view of the current state of Cornhuskers football

  • Nathan Walters

    This is an awful, disgusting piece. You should be ashamed for writing it.

    • John Ackeren

      Thanks for voicing your opinion Nate.

      • Nathan Walters

        Your reasoning says nothing about his coaching record in November. His teams consistently get better as the season goes on. Sure they lost yesterday, but they lost while playing with a walk-on quarterback and penciled together offensive line.
        Mythical 9-win seasons might not mean much to you, but tell me how many teams consistently win nine games a season. How many coaches have won more than Pelini since 2008? Hint: the list is short.
        If you fire Pelini, what’s your standard? At least ten games a season? You can’t just GET to conference championship games? You can’t just GET to January bowls?
        Again, this is garbage. Absolute trash.

        • John Ackeren

          Thanks for your sharing your opinion Nate.

          • Nathan Walters

            And now he’s moving on as the coach. As he should be. Happy garbage like this didn’t affect Eichorst.

          • John Ackeren

            Thanks for sharing your opinion Nate

      • Nathan Walters

        Also, which of your articles have appeared on ESPN, SI, Yahoo, or anywhere else?

  • nitsuj1028

    I am writing my response after the fact, but I can tell you that even before today’s disaster, that I agree with what is being said. Bo came in with a lot of fanfare and almost unanimous support, we gave him credit for making Su into the machine he was, and we understood when Crick got hurt and our defense didn’t look as good. Yes, we gave him the benefit of the doubt for 3 years, but then something became apparent, everyone figured out his defensive schemes and how to disrupt them. Bo stood boldly in front of a microphone and scowled at us for not believing he still knew how to coach a defense.(Now we know it was because we are all a bunch of fair weathered bleep bleep bleepin’ fans.)
    Today he was asked a stupid question by a reporter and his reply was actually pretty good. The problem was after the half and he decided to throw a temper tantrum and almost hit an official in the face with his hat. That little act cost our team an additional 15 yards and put Iowa in the red zone. How can this administration continue to let him be the face of a team that use to be respected not only for what they did on the field, but how they acted?

    • John Ackeren

      Thanks for chiming in on the discussion. You make some good arguments.

  • Justis Disgusted

    Funny, your piece reads almost exactly like the columns I read in the World-Herald. Did you do any of your own research or did you plagiarize the whole thing?

    • John Ackeren

      I didn’t plagiarize anything. I wrote my opinions on the talking points in my article. Not only that, these talking points have been argued for the past year. Nothing that is being discussed in any media outlet on this subject is a new idea or argument, I was also unaware that there were any articles in today’s OWH that were calling for Pelini’s job before today’s events. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  • Brayden Pomajzl

    Though this article does make some big assumptions, I think it was solid. The facts are all there, its true Bo just isnt taking us anywhere good. With all the young guys we have I just have a feeling they might be directed in the wrong direction and instead of Tommy Armstrong Jr having Marcus Mariota numbers he would end up have Mark Sanchez numbers. (If nfl numbers could be brought over to college). Watching the Iowa game today only helped make my decision more solid. Sorry Mr. Pelini, the train has left the station. Go Big Red

    • John Ackeren

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Brayden.

  • Abe7

    John, your “article” is preposterous. It’s clear that the players want Bo to stay. The defense got quite a bit better during the season. The offensive line was a MASH unit. A legitimate All-American candidate at quarterback was slowed by what ended up being a season-ending injury. Does the team, the coaches, the strategies, the players need to be better, more consistent; more football savvy? Of course. Who is the next coach who can lead the Huskers to the promised land? If you can’t name him (or them), then it would be a good idea to stay with Pelini. Just writing that we need a coach who knows how to win and we need to pay whatever it takes to get him here is just “talk.” It’s akin to saying that I’m going to win the 100m in the next Olympics. Neither statement has much to do with reality. I trust that Bo will improvise, adapt, and overcome.

    • John Ackeren

      I respect your opinion Abe, but would like clarification on what you are calling the “promised land.” If you are inferring national championships I clearly stated that there should be no expectations of national titles all the time, but that being in the mix for them on occasion seems reasonable. I didn’t even say they needed to win conference championships every other year. One every four or five doesn’t seem unattainable. While I will say that Bo has grown as a coach over his six years as the head coach of the team, the fact that there has only been minimal growth with the teams he is coaching. I also pointed out that he has surrounded himself with his buddies as assistants, and the lack of overall experience with them has also hurt the team. I like Bo Pelini, but I do not believe he is the guy who can lead Nebraska any further than he has in six years. I agree with you in that just because I write something doesn’t mean that it will happen, and that it’s just talk. At the same time, so is saying that you trust Bo will improvise, adapt, and overcome. Thank you for your comment.

  • Phony Balogna

    You know it took mack brown 8 seasons at Texas to win the Big 12?

    • John Ackeren

      Yes it did. His teams also showed consistent progress each year. His first three years as the Horns head coach were 9 win seasons. In his fourth season at Texas his team went 11-2 and finished at number five in both the AP and Coaches Polls. Year five brought another 11 win season and finished at 7 and 6 respectively in the polls. His sixth season brought 10 wins and the Longhorns finished at 11/12 in the major polls. In Mack’s first six season his team finished only finished outside of the top 15 twice, they held a 12-12 record against ranked teams, had four wins against top 10 teams, and only lost 5 games against unranked teams.So yes, it took Brown 8 years to win his first conference title, but look at what he accomplished in his first 6 years running the program.

      • Phony Balogna

        Mack also had the luxury of an athletic budget that puts NU’s to shame as well as having a campus in a state that produces a hundred times more Division 1 football players than Nebraska and all of its neighboring states combined

  • Tim Miller

    I can’t say I completely disagree with you (like some). It will be interesting to see what happens. I do not think that Bo, at this juncture, has represented our University well at all. It started back with the embarassment at Norman, Oklahoma how many years ago. We may be best cut our losses (literally) and move on. I’m sick of the “Who you going to get?” argument. If we’re stuck on that, then this is a good as it gets. The sell out streak will fall next season if nothing changes.

    • John Ackeren

      Many share the same feeling that you do when it comes to Bo’s actions on the field and in front of a camera. Thanks for your comment.

      • Tim Miller

        Looks like he’s staying, which is OK. But, like I said, if nothing changes, bad things loom for Husker Nation. You can’t deny what has happened in the past; the outbursts, the embarassing losses, the fact that no one fears coming to Lincoln to play any longer. The fans will not continue to fill the seats for 11:00am kickoffs. OUT!

        • John Ackeren

          I agree with you Tim. Like I said in the story, Eichorst just punted the inevitable down the road another year.

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