Nebraska Basketball: Huskers Questioning Bo Pelini Thanks To Tim Miles

Tim Miles exceeding expectations

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s a hypothetical scenario for you. A brand new Nebraska Cornhuskers coach is hired after some absolutely abysmal seasons. Two years in, said coach has the state buzzing due to not only the players on his team but because of who he is. His personality, his interaction with recruits and fans, the whole package.

This coach has his team prepped for a very real possibility of entering a major postseason event. His squad also beat a top ten team on the road.

If I gave you such a scenario in 2012 and told you to be on the lookout come 2014, surely you’d be thinking about a BCS berth for Bo Pelini‘s boys, right? Instead, following Nebraska basketball’s victory over then-No. 9 Michigan State, these tweets went out:

Wins vs Top 10 teams on the road: Tim Miles 1 Bo Pelini 0 Just sayin… #Nebrasketball

— Corey Labenz (@clabenz3) February 16, 2014

Good to see Tim Miles get a signature victory before Bo Pelini. Year 2 vs. Year 6. #basketballschool #Nebrasketball

— Tanner Graham (@tjones232) February 16, 2014

Imagine that a team that plays hard for a coach with class. Pay attention Bo Pelini! Pay attention football team — md (@searayhusker) February 16, 2014

Don’t shoot the messenger.

It’s fair to compare coaches across sports, especially at a school as diverse in athletic success as Nebraska. The Huskers have winning traditions in baseball, women’s volleyball, softball, women’s rifle, wrestling and bowling (yes, bowling). This isn’t the first time the football and basketball coaches have been compared. It’s the first that hardcore followers of both sports have a legitimate point, though.

To be fair, what currently looks like a dream season for Nebrasketball could come crashing down. However, if Tim Miles can take the Huskers to the 2014 NCAA Tournament in only his second year, that’s mighty impressive. If he can guide them to a win, he essentially becomes the best coach the program’s ever had.

Even the revered Danny Nee couldn’t do that. What’s most exciting for Husker fans who pack the Pinnacle Bank Arena is that Miles is just getting started.

Pelini, on the other hand, is in year six. Four losses every year, no conference titles, you know the drill. If he can produce a Big Ten Championship and get the Big Red football team close to the inaugural College Football Playoff then this unofficial competition may get tighter. As it stands, Miles is winning by… well, a mile.

He’s pulled fans who aren’t adamant Creighton junkies out of the college football offseason blues.

Hondo Carpenter, one of the best Michigan State journalistic representatives, also sent out an interesting tweet during Sunday’s basketball game.

I said last week on Nebraska radio I thought the Huskers were a BIG concern. I think they OVER Value Pelini and UNDER value Hoops staff

— Hondo Carpenter (@HondoCarpenter) February 16, 2014

There’s no need to pick sides when it comes the Huskers’ football program’s success versus basketball’s. However, it appears that one’s headed in a far better direction than the other and the ceiling could be much higher.

Brandon Cavanaugh is a Big 10 writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @eightlaces, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

Related Stories:

Nebraska Cornhuskers Will Be In 2015 NCAA Tournament

Nebraska Basketball: Tim Miles Getting NCAA Tournament Talk Started

Nebraska Basketball: Huskers Win At Michigan State Puts Them On Bubble Watch

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  • D Guillory

    I’m about to start writing articles about the trash journalists we have here. Let’s all just start making a bunch of illogical comparisons just to stir the pot & act like we have an ounce of writing ability. I might read another of your “articles” (if I can even call it that) when you quit writing out of your mom’s basement.

    • eightlaces

      D,

      Why do you feel the comparisons are illogical? At the base level, we’re looking at things every coach has to deal with. Players, recruiting, team unit and discipline, etc.

      • matt

        You are obviously dogging bo Pelini. Bringing up negative facts only for football, and positive facts for basketball. I think i see the point but at the same time, dogging football because basketball is doing good is to say that only one of them can have success at a time.I think you are way off base.

        • eightlaces

          Matt,

          Where did I only bring up negative facts for football vs. positive facts for basketball? Also, I only have 1 1/2 seasons all I have to go on for basketball, so I work with what I’m given there.

          I’ll also refer you to the following ending statement:

          “There’s no need to pick sides when it comes the Huskers’ football program’s success versus basketball’s.”

  • JC

    Just an fyi Brandon Cavanaugh, there are a lot of insane lunatics in state of Nebraska that are blind, loyal pelini supporters. They come at you like rabid dogs when you insult the great bp. Just wanted to warn you! Great article!! You are spot on.

    • eightlaces

      I appreciate the kind words, JC. However, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I’m more than willing to hear someone out if they’re willing to properly converse and debate.

      • JC

        I agree that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. The problem I have is they are not willing to properly converse and debate. If you are against pelini, a lot of people will automatically label you as “not a true fan” or a troll. There is no logical discussion.

        • eightlaces

          I’m always curious about what “true” fans are as I asked Paul. Considering I know several people in his situation or at least a similar one, I look forward to his response.

          • JC

            I can say as a fan who is also in the state and well connected to the university that Paul is off in his assessment. He is sharing what it is like in his little world and among his fellow “true fans” who he associates with. I see a whole different side to the atmosphere here and can tell you that people like Paul are actually in the minority. I can give you a description of what a “true fan” is according to someone like Paul. It means you blindly follow and support people like pelini and never question or criticize.

          • Jeff

            …. and conversely there are numerous people that will blindly hate on Pelini regardless of any good he does. I personally am somewhere in the middle.

  • Paul Hrnicek

    Can’t say I agree with this assessment yet. Basketball team is 14-10 and a long way from being in Tourney. Would require a miracle finish for them to get there, which I sure hope they can pull off. Yes they got a great road win yesterday but basketball is nothing like football. Teams can take a night off without it impacting their postseason hopes. In football, every game is live or die. I think Tim is a fantastic coach, but I’m not so quick to throw out Pelini considering he is one of the winningest coaches during past 6 years. And for everyone that says he lacks signature wins, they must forget about the win at 24 mizzou in 09 or the win at 17 okie st and home win over 7 mizzou in 10 or the win over 9 MSU and 12 PSU in 11. Both coaches have had their share of blowout losses and good victories so neither is as good or bad as either side wants you to believe.

    • eightlaces

      Paul,

      Should Nebraska get five more wins under its belt, they’re good. With four more home games (where they’ve only lost once via lack of tip-in), road games that should be split at worst (Illinois and Indiana) along with the B1G tourney, the possibility is very real.

      The argument here isn’t about football versus basketball, it’s about what these two men have done with their respective programs. Regarding Bo, he really doesn’t have a signature win.

      He does have the seventh most double digit losses in the past four years (tied with Iowa, actually). He allowed the worst defensive performance in program history (2012 Wisconsin which gained 10.67 yards per play). He also allowed Nos. 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 14. 21 and 23.

      He has no conference wins, no BCS berths and averages four losses per year.

      Both coaches may have their share of blowout losses, but Tim inherited another guy’s team much like Bo. The difference is that Tim’s wasn’t littered with pro players.

      • Paul Hrnicek

        I don’t think 19 wins guarantees the basketball team an entry into the tourney. My guess is that they need 20 to get there so they likely need to win some games in the Big 10 tourney.

        Not sure how you can say Pelini doesn’t have signature wins when I just listed several top 15 victories. Seems a bit hypocritical to say Miles gets a signature win for beating a top 10 team but you don’t give Pelini credit for his victories. Guess I don’t get that logic…

        And please understand, I’m not a huge fan of Pelini as I think he could use some refinement. However, it appears to me that everyone is so quick to crucify him for any reason, especially those people in the media. This is likely because they want to get more readers. I try to take a logical view of the situation with him and I realize that he does have several good wins (and a lot of bad losses) and that he is a work in progress. You don’t become one of the winningest coaches during the past 6 years without doing something right.

        I also remember how horrible the last couple of coaching searches were and how no major candidates would even touch this job. Getting rid of Pelini would be just like getting rid of Solich. What major coach wants to come to a program that fires 9-10 game winners? None, as evidenced by the last couple of coaching searches.

        Pelini may be a bit rough around the edges and he may not play nice with the media, but he still wins plenty of games and he has his athletes producing the highest team GPA ever achieved by the football team. He’s not perfect but he’s better than most.

        • eightlaces

          “Not sure how you can say Pelini doesn’t have signature wins when I just listed several top 15 victories. Seems a bit hypocritical to say Miles gets a signature win for beating a top 10 team but you don’t give Pelini credit for his victories. Guess I don’t get that logic…”

          I guess we have to look at what makes a win “signature”. Was a truly better team beaten? Were they highly ranked? Away from home? In a BCS bowl game?

          Given the criteria that it appears you’re using (and correct me if I’m wrong), let’s look at both siganture wins and losses.

          Wins:

          2009:

          vs. No. 20 Oklahoma 10-3
          vs. No. 22 Arizona 33-0

          2010:

          vs. No. 17 Oklahoma State 51-41
          vs. No. 7 Missouri 31-17

          2011:

          vs. No. 9 Michigan State 24-3
          vs. No. 12 Penn State 17-14 (Sandusky scandal; Pelini didn’t even want to play considering the circumstances and, come on, it felt pretty weird).

          2012:

          vs. No 20 Michigan 23-9

          2013:

          vs. No. 23 Georgia 24-19

          Losses:

          2008:
          vs. No. 4 Missouri 52-17
          vs. No. 7 Texas Tech 37-31
          vs. No. 4 Oklahoma 62-28

          2009:
          @ No. 13 Virginia Tech 16-15
          vs. UR Texas Tech (NU was No. 15) 31-10
          vs. Iowa State (8 turnover game) 9-7
          vs. No. 3 Texas 13-3

          2011:
          @ No. 7 Wisconsin 48-17
          vs. UR Northwestern 28-25
          @ No. 20 Michigan 45-17
          vs. No. 10 South Carolina 30-13

          2012:
          vs. UR UCLA 36-30
          @ Ohio State 63-38
          vs. UR Wisconsin 70-31
          vs. No. 6 Georgia 45-13

          2013:
          vs. No. 16 UCLA 41-21
          @ UR Minnesota 34-23
          vs. No. 14 Michigan State 41-28
          vs. UR Iowa 38-17

          Which of these resumes carries more weight?

          “And please understand, I’m not a huge fan of Pelini as I think he could use some refinement. However, it appears to me that everyone is so quick to crucify him for any reason, especially those people in the media.”

          I’m not about to crucify him, but when he insulted the entire fan base and invited his firing in one season alone, fans and media alike were surprised when he wasn’t canned.

          “This is likely because they want to get more readers.”

          I can tell you it’s honestly not. At least from me. I can’t speak for other people.

          “I try to take a logical view of the situation with him and I realize that he does have several good wins (and a lot of bad losses) and that he is a work in progress. You don’t become one of the winningest coaches during the past 6 years without doing something right.”

          And beating who to win those games that’s worthy of championing as a quality victory (aside from what we’ve agreed above)?

          “I also remember how horrible the last couple of coaching searches were and how no major candidates would even touch this job. Getting rid of Pelini would be just like getting rid of Solich. What major coach wants to come to a program that fires 9-10 game winners? None, as evidenced by the last couple of coaching searches.”

          The last couple? Osborne had Gill and Bo, took Bo. Pederson’s search? Totally botched. We’re in absolute agreement there. However, I’ll bring up my point that the college football nation as a whole is shocked he still has a job in Lincoln. Wins and losses do not dictate if a coach will come.

          “Pelini may be a bit rough around the edges and he may not play nice with the media, but he still wins plenty of games and he has his athletes producing the highest team GPA ever achieved by the football team. He’s not perfect but he’s better than most.”

          I honestly don’t care how he interacts with the media. His current resume has no major results of note. Regarding the GPA, that’s great (and I truly do mean that), but if we’re going to discuss the term “student-athlete”, it’s time to see some athletic accomplishment along with the academic.

          • Paul Hrnicek

            Bo has plenty of signature wins as shown above. No disagreement that he has a lot of bad losses too. Had you just stated in article that he has too many embarrassing losses then i would’ve agreed with you but you can’t give basketball credit for a signature victory and then not give Bo the same credit.

            The last coaching search was a joke as we only had 2 guys, 1 that had no experience and 1 that was in MAC for a few years. No big name guys lined up to come here. We all want to hold our coaches to those standards but we can’t get any in the door. May need to open wallet to land a big fish.

            Doesn’t really matter who Pelini beat to get his wins. You play the schedule you have. If it is so easy to get to 9+ victories every year then why aren’t all of these other supposed great coaches doing it? Don’t get me wrong, he needs to a signature season with 11+ wins including a BCS birth to be considered a big success at Nebraska. But you can’t just dismiss continuous 9+ win seasons as if that is a simple accomplishment.

            The win over Georgia showed the athletic achievement to go with the academic achievement. Georgia nearly beat Auburn and they were one of the better teams in the SEC. Huskers beat them in their own backyard. Both teams had a lot of injuries, including missing key personnel like qb, linemen, etc so that is a wash. That was a great win for Nebraska in a New Years Day bowl in what was basically a road game environment.

          • Jared Wiebelhaus

            ” fans and media alike were surprised when he wasn’t canned.” See this is what I’m talking about. The people who are surprised are the people living in a negative echo chamber. The crisis was entirely media driven, it was never anything more than speculation. And it is not representative of a majority of fans.

          • Paul Hrnicek

            Agree Jared. Nothing cracks me up more than media and a few off their rocker fans trying to tell the rest of us how we should feel. I am in the majority of NU fans as I am from Nebraska, graduated from the university, and am an active alumnus. I have a good feel for how true fans view this situation and it is not all doom and gloom as the media would have you believe. Media is always trying to get a rise out of fans and coaches instead of just reporting the news.

          • eightlaces

            Paul,

            I’m curious, what is a “true fan” in this situation?

          • eightlaces

            I don’t know how audio tape and a press conference can be speculation. I appreciate the conversation, but I don’t think we’re going to see eye to eye on this point.

          • eightlaces

            Jared,

            Can you provide any evidence regarding the majority of fans’ feelings?

          • eightlaces

            Paul,

            Yes, I will give Tim Miles credit for a top ten win on the road at a very difficult venue and for being .500 in college basketball’s toughest league.

            RE: Bo, I agreed to your metrics of what a signature win or loss was and it’s quite clear which Bo has more of.

            The last search was Tom Osborne’s call. He had his choices lined up. That’s not the fault of any firm. Again, Pederson’s search was botched, that I will agree with.

            It doesn’t matter who Pelini beats? So Western Michigan, San Jose State, New Mexico State, Florida Atlantic, Arkansas State (twice), Louisiana, Western Kentucky, Idaho State, South Dakota State (twice), Chattanooga, Wyoming, Southern Miss (twice) are wins to be impressed with? I’m sorry, no.

            The nine wins metric is very misleading as well. These many teams had nine wins during their respective years:

            2008: 34
            2009: 33
            2010: 32
            2011: 33
            2012: 38

            Unfortunately, he doesn’t get the opportunity to get a BCS berth as the BCS is dead now. Now he has to get into a playoff. You and I both know that Georgia team was beat up just as badly as Nebraska. It was a fair game and Nebraska won, but does it show a step in the right direction? If Aaron Murray was playing and Todd Gurley was 100 percent, maybe.

  • Jared Wiebelhaus

    Brandon,
    You seem often to express a fairly pessimistic view of Pelini. I don’t really want to get into the whole 9 yards of the Bo debate. But I’ll just point out that Bo has played for 3 conference championships in his 6 years. While the B10 game was embarrassing, we were 3 points and one bogus second away from winning back to back B12 championships. I think Tim Miles is a great coach, and we haven’t even scratched the surface of what he could do. But one good upset win does not make an argument bashing Bo Pelini in comparison anything more than negative media sensationalism.

    • eightlaces

      I’m not pessimistic about coach Pelini at all. I’ve just yet to see him get out of neutral. The proposal isn’t about one good win. It’s about what the two men have done thus far.

      Also remember Miles’ team was supposed to be the B1G’s worst. Now he’s a legitimate contender for conference COTY.

      Finally, if you’ll re-read the piece, you’ll notice no negative mention of Bo by me. In fact, I stress the lack of necessity to pick a side.

      • Jared Wiebelhaus

        You stated that “Miles is winning by a mile.” Winning what? The media likability award? I get that the expectations on Miles are low and the expectations on Pelini are high. It comes with the program. But don’t backtrack on your statements and insinuations that Pelini has been lackluster and Miles is better in comparison. You also state that one program is headed in a far better direction. You leave that open I suppose, but it pretty clearly implies that Nebrasketball is heading in a positive direction and Football is at best stuck in neutral. Again a fairly pessimistic take. From my viewpoint ignoring the wider debate. I’ll come back to the fact that Pelini has competed for 3 conference championships, almost won 2, and we were almost in a 4th. Tim Miles has managed to… not suck terribly? Go on one hot streak and win only his second road game of the season (we still have a losing record btw). I’m pumped about Nebrasketball and Miles, just don’t see why Bo has to take a hit while we celebrate their success.

        • eightlaces

          “You stated that “Miles is winning by a mile.” Winning what? The media likability award?”

          Well, that’s one area, yes. I was referring to his ability to excel walking in the door sans the talent Bo had.

          “I get that the expectations on Miles are low and the expectations on Pelini are high. It comes with the program. But don’t backtrack on your statements and insinuations that Pelini has been lackluster and Miles is better in comparison.”

          As you can see, I’m not.

          “You also state that one program is headed in a far better direction. You leave that open I suppose, but it pretty clearly implies that Nebrasketball is heading in a positive direction and Football is at best stuck in neutral.”

          I said as much in a comment.

          “Again a fairly pessimistic take.”

          How is this pessimistic? If you go to the ice cream shop and pick vanilla every time in six trips, what’s the person behind the counter ready to get you on trip No. 7? That’s simply consistent.

          “I’ll come back to the fact that Pelini has competed for 3 conference championships, almost won 2, and we were almost in a 4th. Tim Miles has managed to… not suck terribly?”

          If I understand your point here, Pelini is superior to Miles because even though he’s been embarassed several times, he’s had the opportunity to win the conference (but didn’t) and almost made it in?

          Miles walked into a post-Callahanian scenario and now has his team set up to potentially reach the major postseason event of his sport.

          “I’m pumped about Nebrasketball and Miles, just don’t see why Bo has to take a hit while we celebrate their success.”

          He doesn’t, which is why I added this:

          “There’s no need to pick sides when it comes the Huskers’ football program’s success versus basketball’s.”

          • Jared Wiebelhaus

            I still think you are being disingenuous. You say “There’s no need to pick sides when it comes the Huskers’ football program’s success versus basketball’s.” But then you pretty clearly pick a side.

            Pelini has beaten top 15 teams. I believe Missouri was top 10 when we beat them in 2010. Now that ranking turned out to be a mirage, but how do we know MSU isn’t overrated this season?

            I call it pessimistic because the football program has competed on a very high level. Short of a NC (only two teams per year) I consider conference championships more important than any bowl game. Miles has managed to put us in a long shot position to maybe sneak into the tournament.

            Pelini has had us playing for conference championships, very close to winning them. We’ve come up short but saying Miles is doing better because of a hot streak and one good road win is negative sensationalism at it’s finest. Let’s hold off on coronation until he achieves more than taking us out of bottom feeder status.

          • eightlaces

            “I still think you are being disingenuous. You say “There’s no need to pick sides when it comes the Huskers’ football program’s success versus basketball’s.” But then you pretty clearly pick a side.”

            Well, that’s your prerogative, but I simply stated an opinion on the two programs’ directions. That’s different from picking a side.

            “Pelini has beaten top 15 teams. I believe Missouri was top 10 when we beat them in 2010. Now that ranking turned out to be a mirage, but how do we know MSU isn’t overrated this season?”

            Yes, he has. Two in six seasons. Re: MSU, how can a team that’s 10-3 in the best conference and 21-5 overall with a wins over the then Nos. 1 and 3 team (now 18 and 24) be overrated? What would qualify them as overrated?

            “I call it pessimistic because the football program has competed on a very high level. Short of a NC (only two teams per year) I consider conference championships more important than any bowl game.”

            Of which Bo has none, so how can you say he’s coached at a high level?

            “Miles has managed to put us in a long shot position to maybe sneak into the tournament.”

            We’ll have to agree to disagree here.

            “Pelini has had us playing for conference championships, very close to winning them. We’ve come up short but saying Miles is doing better because of a hot streak and one good road win is negative sensationalism at it’s finest. Let’s hold off on coronation until he achieves more than taking us out of bottom feeder status.”

            I’m sorry, Jared, simply getting a participant ribbon doesn’t cut it for me, especially not in year six. Re: Miles, that hot streak has taken Nebraska out of bottom feeder status in year 1.5. That’s not negative sensationalism, sir. That’s fact.

            This is a team that was predicted by the media to literally be the worst team in the conference. By your metrics, I’d say Miles has achieved success.

          • Jared Wiebelhaus

            So no participation ribbons for playing in multiple championship games. But yes for getting .500 in the conference.

            I’m done discussing. We obviously have very different opinions. To me it’s clear that you are downplaying Pelini’s success. But we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

          • eightlaces

            “So no participation ribbons for playing in multiple championship games. But yes for getting .500 in the conference.”

            Correct, considering Pelini’s lost all of his attempts (hence participating) and Miles’ season isn’t even complete yet.

            “I’m done discussing. We obviously have very different opinions. To me it’s clear that you are downplaying Pelini’s success. But we’ll just have to agree to disagree.”

            If you insist, but I’m not downplaying a thing. The numbers say what they say.

  • Jeff

    I think you are comparing apples to oranges. Completely different expectations, completely different dynamics within the program and with the media. Personally I like both coaches and think they and their respective programs have bright futures.