Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports
During the famous Lincoln/Douglas debates in 1858 Abraham Lincoln gave one of his best known speeches. The most well known line stated that “A house divided cannot stand.” In Saturday’s Omaha World Herald they published a poll asking if Husker fans wanted Bo Pelini to be fired or to stay. The results surprised me with a 54% to 46% edge for the embattled head coach to keep his job. If that isn’t division than I don’t know what is.
In an article Friday morning I let my feeling be known that I thought Bo Pelini should be removed as head coach of The Nebraska Cornhuskers. I also said that whatever happened in the Iowa game would not make a difference in how I felt. There were some who took issue with my opinion, which is to be expected. Some folks just disagreed with me and made a few counter points to let me know why they thought I was wrong. Others decided to critique the article calling it trash. To each his own I guess.
I decided that I would ask a few of my friends to give me their thoughts on Bo Pelini. I wanted to see how different or similar their responses would be. I asked each of them the same four questions.
1) What are your feelings on the job Bo Pelini has done over his six years as head coach of Nebraska?
2) As someone who is a life long Husker fan, do you believe that he is capable of improving the program?
3) Do you think Bo Pelini should have been fired?
4) Did his actions and words on Friday influence your feelings/opinions of Bo or had you come to a conclusion before?
We will start with my friend Mike. Here are his Husker fan creds: Down at Donohues Pub he plays the Tunnel Walk music before kickoff. He plays the fight song after every score. The guy bleeds Husker Red. If anyone is a real Husker fan, it’s this guy. Mike answered all four questions together, so it’s paragraph stylie.
Mike: I believe the Bo is in on-the-job training mode. He is becoming a better coach as he goes. There is nothing that he said or did today to change my opinion. I believe that this years coaching job is one of the best in the country with what the team has went through as far as injuries and etc. etc. I have this opinion before the game and what he said in his post game interview only strengthen my belief in what he is doing. I was fired up about him and what he said after he said it!
Now we move on to Emil. I’ve known this guy junior high. He can throw around the profanity, but makes sure it’s not on camera or anywhere near a microphone. In our youth the profanity was usually directed at Kansas State or Texas. Now he curses Miami and Florida State (probably because of Nebraska’s past with the teams).
What are your feelings on the job Bo Pelini has done over his six years as head coach of Nebraska?: Mediocre compared to his competition. Nine wins (maybe) is not good enough for this tradition rich program.
As someone who is a life long Husker fan, do you believe that he is capable of improving the program: This depends on recruting. NU is not getting high caliber recruits. Kids these days love flashy uniforms and hate the cold. If he does (improve the program) it will be a situation like Tom Osborne faced. It will take time. My gut tells me NO!
Do you think Bo Pelini should have been fired: Yes, for his actions alone. The prestige of Nebraska and our rich traditions should not allow this rage-a-holic to step into memorial stadium.
Did his actions and words on Friday influence your feelings/opinions of Bo or had you come to a conclusion before: Yes they did influence me. This is not how a coach of one of the best programs in the nation should portray himself, it reflects on the university. Winning nine games a year is great if you are Kansas! Not a real “big game” on schedule this year and still 4 losses. Injuries might have played a part in it, but all your players are suppose to be football ready at all times.
My friend Matthew is one of the founders of Husker Army, the largest Husker group on Facebook. Yeah, he’s a Husker through and through.
What are your feelings on the job Bo Pelini has done over his six years as head coach of Nebraska?: When measuring the success of a coach, quite often we only look at the win/loss record to decide efficiency. But there are a lot of folks who will point to the lack of our players being in the news (law infraction etc) along with the graduation rate being at an all time high. I think to be successful all around, a coach must show a dedication off and on the field to his players. Bo came in during a time where most of Husker fans were needing something new; but a lot of those fans equated something as returning us to how it was in the 90’s. The expectations at NU are unlike anywhere else because of the fan base, and while we aren’t contending for championships yet, he’s still winning 2/3 of his games.
As someone who is a life long Husker fan, do you believe that he is capable of improving the program: I believe Bo if can improve this program from where it currently is. Roster wise, there is a lot of young talent coming through the ranks the next 2-3 years, and bringing in a new staff may inadvertently take a year away from those kids learning a new system. Bo also has learned the importance of recruiting. Unfortunately this wasn’t taken as serious when he first started as I believe it is now. With that, he has also learned as a head coach what works with the players and what doesn’t. Remember, this is his first time as a HC and with Tom gone, he no longer has that expertise to fall back on when he has a question, so there’s still going to be some learning on the run. Over 120 teams wont win The BCS Championship this year, and I know in some of their minds by year 6 we should have. But I believe that because of our tradition, that its not too much to ask to be winning some conference titles and at least be a top 10-15 at minimum squad every year. That’s what I believe frustrates some fans. They just want to be relevant again.
Do you think Bo Pelini should have been fired: Deciding someone’s job and livelihood is a sensitive thing. Fans make it seem like its easier since the HC makes more money than 99% of them, but its not an easy decision and I don’t think any of them would like to be scrutinized in their own careers that closely. If I was the AD, I would sit down with Bo and have a real heart to heart to see if this is a place he really wants to be. If it is, then there has to be some agreement on not applying for other jobs, how we conduct ourselves with the media (no matter how dumb the questions might be) and mostly, tear down those walls that have seem to been built around that locker room with the “we only play for ourselves” mentality that has angered a lot of fans. And remember, are we going to scare off applicants if this is a place where 9-3 and 8-4 isn’t good enough? Coaches will start to look at this job as less secure than most pro gigs. Not saying be satisfied with those numbers every year, but be realistic with your expectations.
Did his actions and words on Friday influence your feelings/opinions of Bo or had you come to a conclusion before: Friday’s antics during the post game were a little puzzling. Bo is a passionate guy, and its a quality that most of the time serves him well; but there is also a time to be humble and not have to be standoffish. It was the same “puff my chest out and show you” attitude when Pearlman disciplined him after the A&M game that sent him searching for other jobs. It reared its head after the OSU win as you all heard on the leaked audio after the UCLA loss. There’s no doubt Bo cares deeply for his players, but there is a place and a time to show who the alpha male is and these hints of being untouchable, above everyone. The “I dont care what they do” statement probably doesn’t sit well with the people that pay the bills; the fans. Those are going to be some skills that are imperative for him to develop to be a well rounded coach.
Between the three of them and myself it was a 2-2 split in Bo’s fate. He is a polarizing figure. The debate between the pro and anti Bo camps is a heated one. If you need evidence of it just hit up a message board or facebook group and see how people are attacking one another because of they don’t have the same opinion. It’s almost cannibalistic only it’s not random like it was with Jeffery Dahmer. This thing in unlike anything I have ever seen really. The greatest fans in college football are chomping at the bit to tear each other apart.
My question is, why? Matthew, Emil, Mike, and I would be able to discuss our differences without being outright disrespectful to one another. All of us realize that it is ok for others to not agree with us. That there is more than one perspective to the topic, and honestly that there is no right or wrong answer to the four questions that were asked. This is not science, it’s an opinion.
Obviously after Shawn Eichorst’s endorsement of Pelini yesterday we know that he will lead the team out of the tunnel in August of 2014. Some are happy, others not so much. Even though I believe that Bo should have been fired, that does not mean that I am not a fan of the team. It doesn’t mean that I am against the program or that I am not a “real” fan. It means that in my opinion, the Huskers should have gone in a different direction with the head coach. At the same time, I also understand that Pelini is going to lead Nebraska for another season. I will still wear my Blackshirts gear on game day with my white Husker hat because I am a Husker fan.
I guess what I am really hoping for is a little understanding between both sides of “The Great Bo Debate” moving forward. I believe in healthy dialogue and debate. It’s alright to disagree as long as there is a mutual respect that can be kept intact. When fans are calling each other names or are verbally attacking one another it gives the entire fan base a poor image.
Bo Pelini will be the head coach at Nebraska next year. Instead of arguing amongst ourselves, why not look forward to a possible Texas match-up in a bowl game. A Husker win over The Longhorns should be something that can rally a house divided, right?