The Nebraska Cornhuskers and their head coach Bo Pelini have a similar aura surrounding their team. It is a sense of uncertainty that the Huskers seem to be familiar with and are comforted by. The Huskers are once again a team whose coach is on the hot seat and coach Pelini, his staff and his players don’t seem to be bothered by that type of attention one bit.
It is not only Pelini who is on the hot seat. The booth overlooking Memorial Stadium where offensive coordinator Tim Beck is positioned is also a warm place as his play-calling has been questioned at times. While Pelini’s prowess as a defensive guru is well known around the country, Beck’s mind for the game on the offensive side of the ball is growing in popularity.
Many around the country believe Beck has a future as a head coach in college football. Even though Beck is thought of highly in college football circles, he is still criticized in Nebraska because his offense differs from that of National Champion coach Tom Osborne. Beck has brought back the option but for many in the state, it is not nearly used as often as they would like.
The quarterback seat at Nebraska is red hot this season — so hot that the Huskers do not have one single player who can fill it yet. Three quarterbacks have been rotated in mostly due to the injuries of senior Taylor Martinez. Even if Martinez were to return at this point in the season, the likelihood that he would be well received by Husker fans is still in doubt. Martinez has been criticized throughout his career and though he has set many records at Nebraska, he has not yet won a conference championship.
Behind Martinez, the Huskers have Tommy Armstrong and Ron Kellogg III. An argument has been made for both to see playing time. Armstrong has been the choice of some who hope that he may gain experience in his time under center this season. Still, other Huskers fans have made a case for Kellogg, whose last-second heroics helped the Huskers to earn a victory over the Northwestern Wildcats last week.
Also on the hot seat is the entire Huskers defense. They are not the Blackshirts of the past, and the starting lineup seems like it was chosen by throwing darts in the dark at times. The Huskers have a very young squad and the coaching staff has had a difficult time putting a cohesive unit on the field this season. The Huskers have remained very solid in their secondary, led by Ciante Evans and Stanley Jean-Baptiste. Also, the Huskers have oddly proved to be one of the leading defenses in the nation on third down efficiency this season.
Throughout Pelini’s career, the Huskers have been asked to live up to the success that the program saw in the 1990s. This was a decade where the Huskers fielded a team that some refer to as the greatest college football team ever. Living up to such expectations will be nearly impossible, but it is a good sign for Huskers fans that their coach does not seem to be bothered by lofty expectations.