Bo Pelini is Safe as Nebraska Cornhuskers Head Coach

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Recently it was reported in Sports Illustrated by Stewart Mandel that Bo Pelini may be on the hot seat if his team fails to improve upon a nine win season.  Mandel believes that Pelini’s failures in big games as the head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers are raising major concern in Lincoln.  Perhaps Mandel should familiarize himself with Husker Nation and what the fans of the Big Red desire and a short period that causes them to tremble with repugnance.

First, the time period was the failed Bill Callahan Experiment.  Much of Husker nation was disheartened to see Solich dismissed to make room for the Callahan, the polished NFL Super Bowl coach.  Surely Solich’s time as a player and an assistant coach had earned him a spot in the hearts of all of the Huskers fans.  The assumption was that the new coach could recruit NFL talent to compete in Lincoln.  Long story short the experiment was a failure.  After 25 years under one coach, Tom Osborne, Solich was given only six seasons before then athletic director Steve Peterson fired him in favor of Callahan.

Ten years and two coaches was enough to confuse and sadden Husker fans.  There was one man who could save the University and that man was of course no other than Dr. Tom Osborne who returned in the role of Athletic Director.  Osborne’s return to the program brought with it a calmness and patience.  As a coach Osborne was patient; he stuck with his game plan and used what was available to his team.  A hard-nosed running game, a tough defense, and a strong walk on program were all pillars of the Huskers under Osborne.  As an athletic director Osborne instilled that patience in the new staff in Lincoln.  Osborne did not take the athletic director role to be a force only in the football department but rather to help the entire University – his presence alone brought stability.  Osborne was also patient in his guidance of a first time head coach in Pelini.

Osborne never imposed his style of coaching on Pelini; he merely offered the young coach an open door and support.  Tom Osborne and Bo Pelini are not the same man and that is okay.  Osborne was able to see Pelini’s talents and embraces the passion he brings to the game.

It was with this same patience and leadership that Osborne helped select and groom his successor as Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst.  Osborne’s final day as Athletic Director was January 1 but he stayed on to help Eichorst in the transition into the role in Lincoln until June 27.  Hopefully during this time some of Osborne’s patience and leadership skills were passed on to Eichorst.

It has been 15 years since Osborne roamed the sidelines of Memorial Stadium.  Nebraska fans are desperately in need of consistency.  Barring an absolute meltdown this season there is little chance that Pelini will be replaced as head coach.  In fact Pelini is starting to show some of Osborne’s characteristics.  One that is greatly appreciated by the Husker fan base is his dedication to keeping an excellent staff under him and trusting them to do their jobs.  Shawn Watson and Carl Pelini have moved on and their roles have successfully been filled by Coach John Papuchis and Coach Tim Beck

Finally there is no reason to begin a massive search for a new coach.  Offensive coordinator Beck has done well in his role but does not have the experience to step into the role of head coach at as prestigious as Nebraska yet.  The remainder of the Nebraska staff seems to be set in their roles as position coaches for the time being.  The majority of top coordinators are offensive minds with the exceptions of Kirby Smart at Alabama and Brian Diaco at Notre Dame.  There would be little need to bring in an offensive minded head coach with Tim Beck doing well.  Only two names that could build on the tradition at Nebraska are two that were mentored by Osborne.  They are former Nebraska quarterbacks Turner Gill (Liberty) and Scott Frost (Oregon), but the likelihood of either returning to Lincoln any time soon seems doubtful.  Pelini should be safe for the foreseeable future and should concentrate on winning games, not where he will be raising his family.

Joseph Smith is contributing writers for follow him on twitter @smithrantsports like him on Facebook Joe Smith – Rant Sports and add him on google+

Around the Web

  • Rcjk

    Having won five national championships and three in the last few decades rather than being a nobody school in the SEC and having nothing that claims Alabama’s championships as their own is a good position to be in, and i don’t see any problem with 9 or 10-win seasons. But the blowouts like the ones against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship game or against Georgia in the Capital One Bowl can’t keep happening otherwise Pelini should get fired. Nebraska needs to win the big games, and i think that requires having a strong defense, not offense. you could have the strongest offense ever and still crater. Remember West Virginia’s Geno Smith hype last year from that Baylor game? you could outscore the other team all you want but if you can’t prevent the other team from scoring that means nothing.


    This is one poorly and laughably written blog post that is very typical of someone that is not involved in what goes on at, or why, a big time football program. There are numerous assertions made here that are either erroneous or flat out false.

    Further, for the writer to be calling out Stewart Mandel, who is one of the finest sportswriters anywhere and one of the better informed scribes in this country, robs this post of further credibility.

    Failure or not, Bill Callahan recruited a mountain of talent that is currently in or has played in the NFL. More than Pelini, by far, and Pelini has been the Head Coach at Nebraska an entire season longer than Callahan was, now.

    Further, Tom Osborne was in no way involved in the selection process of Shawn Eichorst as the new Athletic Director at Nebraska. In fact, Osborne did not even know who had been selected for the job until after Eichorst had been hired. Stories attesting to this fact are so plentiful I won’t even bother to post one of the bazillion links available on this topic And, Osborne was so removed from this process that he was not even asked to attend the press conference conducted by NU Chancellor Harvey Perlman announcing Eichorst’s hiring, nor did he. In fact, Osborne, himself said after the fact he didn’t even know it was going to be held.

    This blogger operates under the completely mistaken assumption that “average Joe football fan” really has something to say about the head coaching situation at this or at any other major college football university. The boosters at any given school control this, even more so that the Athletic Director does. If the right boosters want Pelini out, he’s gone, and there have already been prominent boosters quoted in the Omaha World Herald in the last 30 days as saying that Pelini’s clock is ticking, or words to that effect. Further, I would expect that someone of the stature of Stewart Mandel has his own sources as well (besides reading this in the Omaha newspaper, himself) and I would suspect that he has had someone tell him something along the same lines, too, as I would guess that he looked into these assertions himself, he being the quality, award winning sportswriter that he is.

    Pelini might not be gone if he does not win 9 games or more, but I can assure anyone reading this that if the Huskers have further embarrassing losses where they are not competitive, or look poorly prepared, as they have had every season under Pelini, and/or more situations where Pelini has temper melt-downs on the sideline, his job very definitely will be in jeopardy. I can’t speak for all the other boosters that I know but, for myself, I can tell you that Pelini is getting very close to having used all the coupons he had in his coupon book. This season is make it or break it for him.

    Go Big Red.