Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

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

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

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