Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bo Pelini: A Special Coach We Drove Away

One of today's featured articles at Yahoo! was a great feature on LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini. It almost seems unfair to bring up the name Bo with Nebraska's defense today that only gives fans a sense of woe. Here's a few tidbits:
On the morning of the biggest game of his career, college football's top assistant coach is standing on a grass field, watching a bunch of 8-year-olds play soccer.

Across town, many of the 92,000 fans who will attend LSU's showdown against defending national champion Florida are already stirring gumbo and guzzling Miller Lite in the parking lot at Tiger Stadium.

But to Bo Pelini, that game is no more important than the one he's at now – mainly because his son, Patrick, is among the players trying to kick the ball into the net.

"It's fun watching your kids grow up," Pelini, who also has two daughters, says later. "Baseball, t-ball, gymnastics, ballet. I try not to miss anything."

LSU's defensive coordinator pauses for a moment and grins.

"But," Pelini says, "I do think a few people get freaked out when they see me standing on the soccer field the morning of such a big game."

Those people obviously underestimated Pelini, who helped LSU maintain its spot atop the Associated Press poll with a 28-24 win over Florida.

Head coach Les Miles said he knew he'd gotten a gem when he plucked Pelini away from Oklahoma following the 2004 season.

Miles was the head coach at Oklahoma State when Pelini was at Nebraska. After watching game tape, Miles thought he'd figured out a way to expose the Cornhuskers' defense.

"But when we played them," Miles said, "they ended up using a totally different scheme. They beat us, and after that I started watching more and more of their film. He was coming up with different plans every week. Each game it evolved."

Miles knew he wanted that kind of strategist on his staff, and he was also impressed by the newspaper articles he read about the way Nebraska's players got behind Pelini and urged the administration – albeit unsuccessfully – to hire him as their head coach.

"Those players wanted him to be there, and that said a lot," Miles said. "At that point I had never met him, but I knew I wanted him on my staff."

Count me as one who would much rather have the BoShirts back in Lincoln rather than Coz's WoeShirts. Pelini detractors like to bring up Missouri, Texas, and Kansas State as some sort of proof that Pelini isn't that good. Obviously, those fans weren't paying much attention to those games:

  • Missouri: Nebraska turns the ball over 3 times inside their own 10 yard line, leading to 3 touchdowns. Nebraska loses by 17.
  • Texas: Vince Young? Cedric Benson? A lot of NFL teams have problems with these guys.
  • Kansas State: Yeah, the Wildcats ran free in the 4th quarter. But not nearly as bad as they ran free over Oklahoma (that season's "greatest team ever") to win the Big XII Championship.
Yahoo's Jason King suggests that Pelini might be up for jobs at A&M (when they get tired of Fran), LSU (if Les Miles returns to Ann Arbor and the Weasels), Virginia (like Bill Callahan, Al Groh gets lots of recruits), Arizona (would he really want to take over for a fired family friend?), and Baylor (Bo can do better than that). Would he come back to Lincoln? Deep down, I'd like to think so, provided a certain athletic director is gone.

More about Bo:


Christopher said...

I don't really disagree. I just wanted to note that no one in the NFL is really having trouble with Cedric Benson. Dude's just this side of bust territory.

Anonymous said...

Holy crap can you quit dwelling on the past? That was four years ago, let it go. I think Bo would have been great asset to keep around, it didn’t happen and I moved on. Why do you worry so much about what should have happened? You do realize that it can’t change now.

Maybe Tom will come back and hire Charlie and all will be well in your world. It isn’t gonna happen, get over it!

Husker4Yankees said...

Good article. My only problem is with the title. We did not drive Bo away. I think we know who did though.

Anonymous above. It is not dwelling in the past anymore than reviewing game film and seeing where you can get better is dwelling in the past.

bigredfred said...

Anonymous, "quit dwelling on the past" ?? Please, get your head out of the sand and open your eyes!! Only then will we begin to learn from our past mistakes and get better.

If we had been a little more prudent and made better choices, maybe the nightmare of the last 4 years wouldn't have had to happen. But, maybe if we understand better what happened and why, ie a renegade AD who brianwashed fans and sold the program, we can rebuild and get back what we once were.

You'll never get there with your head in the sand though...

Anonymous said...

Puhlease, my head is anywhere but in the sand. I realize that NU is in complete shambles and it leads to one man....Mr Pedey. Big-red-fred tell me exactly how 'we'could have made better choices and been more prudent? I had no say in the matter and I am sure you didn't either. I think Bo would have been a good hire, I was on the fence about Frank being let go. Pedey botched it bad, but dwelling on the past is a joke. What are 'WE' gonna learn? You just sound like whiney little babies that didn't get your way.

Hey huskermike, are you still wearing your Ohio gear to the games or did you have to change to Buffalo?

Anonymous said...

With only one year of coordinator experience at ANY level of football, no one can possibly make a legitimate argument that Pelini should have been hired on as a head coach of a major Division I program. For that matter, he has yet to get that offer. He'll get his shot eventually, but he didn't have anywhere near enough experience 3 years ago. It's a completely moot point.

No BCS teams have ever hired a coach with 1 year of coordinator experience to be their Head Coach. Hindsight being 20/20 it may have been the right decision but I certainly don't think a sane person could blame SP for that particular decision at the time.

Having said that, I do think that SP should have been able to see the
value in a Bo Pelini and done everything he could have to retain him as the defensive coordinator. But, I can tell you that it's very
uncomfortable being around someone you know is going to hate you when they get the bad news. There is no "good" way to let someone go. And with Bo saying himself that he didn't want to be DC under a new coach it was pretty clear what was going to happen.

Here is my prediction:
1. Michigan replaces Carr as head coach.
2. Les Miles gets Michigan job.
3. LSU hires someone other than Pelini to be head coach at LSU!

Husker Mike said...

Ty Willingham was never a coordinator before being named head coach. If I looked harder, I might find that nobody had "one and only one year" as a coordinator before being named head coach... but to suggest that a BCS conference school has NEVER hired a coach with less than two years as a coordinator is simply false.

Anonymous said...

"If only's" only make ya lose sleep. It's obvious something needs to be done, but what? Her is a possibility I heard tossed around on the Mighty Big sports 590; Philadelphia Eagles are interested in luring Gruden to be head coach next year and that he wants to pair up with Callahan as his offensive coordinator to try and repeat the 'magic' they brought to Oakland! Seem strange? I think that Callahan being a 'business' man would have noproblem telling Nebraska that he doesn't think the arrangement is working out here and that he would cut his losses and resign for an NFL job in a heartbeat leaving Pederson and his assistants to swing in the breeze. The thing that sucks about this would be that a once dominant team will have been a hollow shell of it's former self and how would Humpty be put back together again? My idea is to ask T.O. to be interum A.D. and to have him oversee a search commitee for a new Head Coach with Nebraska ties. Waddya think ya'll?

bighuskermav said...

I'd like to point out that Pelini's one-game audition as NU head coach faired better than anything Callahan has ever done.

As far as the comment that "With only one year of coordinator experience at ANY level of football, no one can possibly make a legitimate argument that Pelini should have been hired on as a head coach of a major Division I program." It's hard for anyone to make a legitimate argument that Dave Wandtstatt, Houston Nutt and Bill Callahan should have been hired as Division 1-A coaches, but Pederson was stupid enough to consider all three of them. I would have taken Pelini over any of those morons back in 2003, and I feel more justified than ever for those feelings in 2007.

Mike is not "dwelling on the past" as much as stating the case for the administration to be run out of town. It's time for Pederson to be held accountable for *everything* he has done, not just the latest fuckup-du-jour.

Keep it coming, Mike.

Anonymous said...

Pelini is an Awesome coach and I hope he is hired on as Nebraskas new head coach! Just watch if he is hired--it won't suprize me at all if the huskers are in the top 5in the next 3 years or less if Pelini is surrounded by a good coaching staff/ offensive coordinator.

Anonymous said...

You will know when you know. Meanwhile enjoy the game.

Timothy said...

Maybe Pelini only had 1 year of coordinator experience, but he would've had all the help he needed as head coach. He wouldn't have frozen Tom Osborne out of the loop, and he would've had dedicated, capable assistants covering his back. He would've had the devotion of the players and the unqualified support of the fans.

Anonymous said...

Where is anonymous said at now.............Let's see Tom did come back and is going to hire who? Maybe Bo?
It's a great time to be a Husker!

Bo Big Red, I mean Go Big Red!

csc4d2champs said...

Bo Big Red!!! Oh, and Chadron State is and was always the best D2 playoff contender this year in NE. Lets see how Northwest Missouri State likes playing on the road in the coldest wind they've seen in years in front of a standing room only crowd in the middle of nowhere. All of that UNO coverage in the WH for nothing!!!

Anonymous said...

Husker Mike--you must be a little psychic. Awesome job in predicting weeks ago what is transpiring today.

Dr Tom will be able to restore the order...this we know. He is a man who has achieved the impossible before. He is the epitome of what a coach should be.

ESPN is conducting a poll to determine the Best College Football Coach of All Time. The winner will be announced at the Rose Bowl on Jan 1.

TO has made it to the top 4. I hope he gets the recognition he deserves:

The Silver Sky said...

Lulz, Bo is back. :D

And things come full circle.