Bo Pelini and his Nebraska Cornhuskers have had what could be put most simply as “an interesting” season thus far.
Pelini has endured devastating losses this year. The first was at home at the hands of the UCLA Bruins, a game in which Huskers fans saw their team’s first-half lead quickly dissipate in the second half. The second loss was a stunner that could prove to be the flaw in the season that eliminates the Huskers from a Big Ten championship game as the Huskers lost on the road to the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Throughout the losses, Pelini has endured criticism from many different outlets. Sports writers both locally in the state of Nebraska and nationally have questioned whether Pelini should retain his position as head coach of the Huskers. Fans have questioned Pelini’s effectiveness as head coach. They have done so while watching a native son and national championship-winning Huskers quarterback Scott Frost coach the offense for the national contender Oregon Ducks.
Many members of Big Red nation have spoken in favor of Frost as the next Huskers coach. Pelini has also withstood the onslaught of criticism from another national championship-winning quarterback Tommie Frazier, whose tweets have been widely publicized.
Recently, it has been reported that the Pelini family has been hurt badly by the disappointing revelations of drug abuse by Pelini’s older brother Carl Pelini. The elder Pelini is a former defensive coordinator at Nebraska under Bo, and was most recently the head coach of the Florida Atlantic football team.
The Huskers team has also dealt with their share of injuries. Heisman hopeful Taylor Martinez has missed the majority of this season with a wide range of undisclosed injuries. The Huskers have also been forced to play without their top offensive linemen Spencer Long, who is recovering hopefully to return in time for pre-draft workouts this offseason. Wide receivers Kenny Bell and Jamal Turner have endured injuries as well.
What does all of this mean to coach Pelini? If history can teach Husker fans anything, it means Pelini has an opening for one of his most effective motivational schemes. Bo Pelini is a master of using an ‘us against the world’ mentality with his teams. He has done this time and time again. When the chips are down, Pelini always seems to shut the doors to his team meetings and share a few words with them.
When those doors open back up, the team always emerges as a cohesive unit. This is one of the most intriguing things about Pelini.
Do Pelini’s motivational tactics fit in the NCAA, or would they be better served in the NFL? There is no question that Pelini can rally his troops. He knows football, and there is very little doubt about that. Unfortunately, for Pelini to win a collegiate national championship, it is most likely the Huskers will need to go undefeated eventually. This would nullify Pelini’s most effective motivational tool. Hopefully for Pelini and the Huskers, the staff can find another way get motivated for a game or fans can look forward to many more two- and three- win seasons.