Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Husker Football: 2014 Could Make or Break Nebraska’s Bo Pelini

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A common argument for those who back Husker football head coach Bo Pelini is that he needs more time to grow into his role as a head coach.

If a school is willing to commit to giving someone who’s never been a head coach before a chance to learn on the job, I understand how he may get more leeway than most.

If Nebraska brought in, let’s say Washington’s Chris Peterson, he’s an established head coach. He knows all aspects of what it takes to run a program and be successful. My personal rule of thumb is giving a coach a full recruiting cycle of players (five years) to see what he can do.

If he improves, there’s no loser aside from the team that steps onto the field against his. If he tanks (especially in Bill Callahan/Bill Jennings style), he gets the boot. Pretty cut and dried.

Pelini enters his seventh season as the Huskers’ head man, but the evaluation of the job he’s done is somewhat different.

We’ve all heard the statistics about his record, poor winning percentages against highly-ranked teams and other arguments for and against his presence in Lincoln.

However, Youngstown, OH’s finest is getting two years more than what I feel is appropriate based on having never been in his position before, but the nine wins and four loss records are getting old. In fact, it reeks of stagnation which is almost worse than a roller coaster ride of records.

Despite Nebraska’s wheels spinning in the mud, Pelini does have some stark blemishes on his tenure that argue against his retention should 2014 be more of the same.

He was brought in to right the ship after the debacle left by Callahan and he did that. However, there have been no conference titles, no BCS bowl appearances, nothing to really show that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

Seven years in and thus far, it’s been the perfect example of a coach hitting his ceiling.

The 2014 season gives him an opportunity to prove his critics wrong. That all fans needed to do was wait and they’d eventually see a conference title being held high. Dream big, baby. College Football Playoff courtesy of Bo Pelini. That’s what Nebraska fans need to see.

While his quarterbacks will be green, he’s got a stable of running backs led by a Heisman trophy candidate, a solid offensive line and a defense that rivals any of his that didn’t include Ndamukong Suh. The schedule his team faces also sets up for success.

Yes, there are road trips to Michigan State and Wisconsin, but a properly coached team should be able to make the trip and split those. Nebraska can win the Big Ten West. I’ll even go as far as to say they can win the Big Ten. A more appropriate sentence would be that Pelini’s team must win the conference.

If Nebraska fans are treated to another season that results in a Floridian bowl featuring a game against LSU or Ole Miss, it’s likely that four losses show up on the record again.

It’s time for Pelini to go all in. He’s not afraid to and he’s got everything lined up to make a major run in and out of his conference. If he can, he’ll have earned his place at the table. If not, seven years is enough for the Pelini Project.

There are plenty of “processes” out there. It’s time to see if this one finally can spit out some hardware.

If not? Scrap it.

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Tags: Bo Pelini Nebraska Cornhuskers

  • Guest

    First off, it’s called the P.E. Pelini Experiment. Secondly, you’re spot on and late to the part yourself. Fans in the know have been saying this for nearly 2 years now. I’m guessing you just now grew a pair large enough to write an article about it?

    • Brandon Cavanaugh

      First, I thought P.E. was supposed to be fun. Second and thirdly, I’ve been analyzing Pelini’s tenure at Nebraska for quite some time now. Google is your friend, kind guest.

  • pat

    The Husker faithful that seem to want to scrap things and start all over are just plain wrong. Don’t even take into consideration 9 and 10 win seasons. Just think this, your talent level in the entire state of Nebraska couldn’t beat Cleveland St Ignatius on their best day. That said this coaching regime has done an amazing job keeping NU eligible for a bowl game. The amount of “coaching up” thats being accomplished rivals any program in the country. The good news for the program is the relationships with High School programs around the country are improving and the classes have (at least on paper) gotten better each of the last three years. This will show up in the win column soon and maybe even this year but if not I say he deserves another and another… This coach has shown he is a leader and we’re lucky he hasn’t left town for a greener pasture!!!

    • sciguybm

      wait my friend those 9 win season contain at least 3 D2 school wins….yes sire, pelini’s real w/l records, eliminating the patsies is a dismal 6 win average.
      And his character is wholly dependent on whether the camera is recording what he says and what he does.
      No, not much a man, even worse a coach.

      • pat

        Thats 3 to 4 more wins than NU gets without Pelini… Your state has very little High School Talent… It takes a slow steady pace to build a program in a state like Nebraska. Calahan didn’t exactly begin the process… It’s a 10 year process (like it or not) and Nebraska should be proud of coach that can beat so many teams with superior talent, OSU, Oklahoma, Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and so on… If Bo is fired there will be no happier group of people than the coaches of the big 10.

        • http://www.huskercorner.com/ Brandon Cavanaugh

          The proper coach can have a program running at peak efficiency within three years. That’s enough time to bring in two recruiting classes and work with what’s already in the system.

          If Pelini is fired, I doubt Big Ten coaches celebrate, especially if he falls short of a conference title again this year. Just less competition for them.

          • pat

            You are assuming NU can get the right coach in the first place. Have you considered that this coach does not exist? Have you considered that by firing a coach that has gone to three conference championship games in two different conferences along with winning 9 or more a year for 6 years … that most coaches of the caliber you are speaking of would not consider the job. Face facts you have the best possible coach right now and you just need to accept that a title takes time and even more time where the State talent pool is weak. I do not buy your we won in the past with weak talent pool.. the game is way different with the media coverage and NU does not have the advantage it once had. Kids want to play for their state first (most of the time). To get a kid to come to NU is much harder than say Ohio State and their in lies the problem. I believe this coaching staff has cracked the door open and the trend of better players coming to NU will keep improving as it has the past three years. It’s people like you with your “fire Pelini” banter that set the coaches and recruiting back. Sit back and watch this team build and get better… This year is going to be a great season and maybe even that title we all want!!!

          • http://www.huskercorner.com/ Brandon Cavanaugh

            “You are assuming NU can get the right coach in the first place. Have you considered that this coach does not exist?”

            If Nebraska can’t attract a winning coach to a school that is to college football what the American military complex is to a war zone, it doesn’t deserve to win.

            “Have you considered that by firing a coach that has gone to three conference championship games in two different conferences along with winning 9 or more a year for 6 years … that most coaches of the caliber you are speaking of would not consider the job.”

            No, because that’s not how it works. If a company has someone running a large chunk of its organization, but isn’t getting results with the resources at their disposal, there’s a fairly good chance that someone else can.

            Keep in mind that Frank Solich had already won a conference title and been in a national championship game at this point in his career.

            “Face facts you have the best possible coach right now and you just need to accept that a title takes time”

            That is not a fact. That is opinion.

            “and even more time where the State talent pool is weak. I do not buy your we won in the past with weak talent pool.. the game is way different with the media coverage and NU does not have the advantage it once had. Kids want to play for their state first (most of the time). To get a kid to come to NU is much harder than say Ohio State and their in lies the problem.”

            The problem with that argument is Ohio State is sitting in one of the largest recruiting talent pools in the nation. Nebraska recruits nationally. That’s why Nebraska’s starting backfield vs. FAU will feature a QB from Texas, a Heisman Trophy candidate from Alabama and potentially three others from Georgia, Texas and California, respectively.

            The defense features players across Indiana one, a likely first round NFL draft pick and the other an up and coming defensive tackle stud), The linebacker corps is composed of prospects from Pennsylvania (PSU country), Maryland (Big Ten/ACC country), Missouri (SEC country) and Texas. Defensive backs are from Florida, Alabama, California, Wisconsin. I think I’ve made my point.

            “I believe this coaching staff has cracked the door open and the trend of better players coming to NU will keep improving as it has the past three years.”

            I just showed you the past three years. There is no cracking of doors. It was already open.

            “It’s people like you with your “fire Pelini” banter that set the coaches and recruiting back. Sit back and watch this team build and get better… This year is going to be a great season and maybe even that title we all want!!!”

            If Bo Pelini and his recruiting is truly set back by media opinion, there are bigger problems inside his program than previously thought. His teams aren’t getting better. His program has stagnated. If he breaks that cycle, I’ll commend him like everyone else.

          • Ryan L Keller

            I would love to see your resume Brandon. I’m sure it is loaded with tons of higher end football coaching experience. Unless you’ve coached at that level. Saying that a “proper” coach would have the program at peak level in three years is just flat out dumb. You know nothing Jon Snow. Nothing.

          • http://www.huskercorner.com/ Brandon Cavanaugh

            Ryan,

            I’m not a world-class chef, but I know I don’t order my steaks well done.

            Brownie points for the GoT reference.

    • http://www.huskercorner.com/ Brandon Cavanaugh

      Keep in mind this coach has clearly been interested in leaving for said greener pastures. Lest we forget a certain expletive-laden tirade about how Nebraska fans will miss him when he’s gone.

      The state of Nebraska’s talent is a moot point. Nebraska has always recruited nationally and has a roster full of players from the Big Three. The Huskers’ Heisman candidate running back is from Alabama/Auburn’s backyard.

      The bread that Pelini’s brought to the party’s stale.

  • Janie Perry

    Pelini hasn’t done that bad. Who cares about the BCS they are a bunch of crock anyway. They only care about the SE Conference anyway. If they didn’t they would have Nebraska play in Miami, but that gets old also, they know the Ne Fans will pay a lot of money to go to a bowl. Ne Fans have always been at the top for spending the big bucks when they travel. As far as being conference champs, we are in a bigger and better conference than the Big 12, look at who played in it. We should have been on top. When all you do is belittle a team and the coach, no team will play up to their potential, sooner you figure that out you will have a good team that wins a bundle. Your not a true Ne fan or you would be behind them no matter what.

    • http://www.huskercorner.com/ Brandon Cavanaugh

      Well, the BCS is dead, but regardless, Pelini’s shown nothing for his efforts. No conference titles, no major bowl victories, nada. Nebraska fans are getting sick of travelling to the same Floridian bowls and if that continues this year, I’ll be very interested to see just how many tickets to the Capital One or Outback Bowl are snapped up.

      Also, in regards to being a “true fan”, I highly recommend my piece on the Anatomy of a True Nebraska Fan. I think you’ll enjoy it, Janie.

  • sciguybm

    Bo must Go.
    He is second division D-coach at best, glorified high school coach at worst.
    It’s easy to beat D2 teams and his record lives on that.
    Let me say that again: take away the D2 school wins and his win percent falls far under .500
    Bo’s picks for assistant coaches equals his intellect as a head coach; they too are glorified high school coaches who don’t know how to make game plans, 1/2 time adjustments or to coach on the sidelines.
    No, Bo must Go.

  • ron s

    still don,t see why nu hired a unproven coach…….and if folks like 4 loss seasons,,bo is the man….Snyder from kanas state , I though would had been a great hire

    • http://www.huskercorner.com/ Brandon Cavanaugh

      Snyder didn’t have ties to Tom Osborne. It was either Turner Gill or Bo.

  • Pelini’s Hammer

    Just wondering how many coaches have won 9 games a year every year for the past 6 years?? Ya he sucks we should probably fire him.

    • http://www.huskercorner.com/ Brandon Cavanaugh

      Who have those wins been against? How has Pelini fared against Top 25 teams? Against these same teams on the road? Again, what does he have to show for these nine wins per year?