Well, ESPN.com apparantly has gotten over their schizophrenia, and is now reporting that Bo Pelini will be named the next Husker football coach sometime after the SEC championship game. The Sporting News is also reporting it. Tom Osborne isn't saying anything, other than an announcement is "two or three days away" (hmmm... that would be Sunday or Monday, correct? And that would give with the ESPN.com reports...).
If it's true, I'm fine with it. Pelini has been my number one choice. He was my number one choice four years ago. In fact, I privately told someone in January 2004 that we hadn't heard the last of Bo Pelini at the University of Nebraska. At that time, I knew that it was going to be nearly impossible for any coach, let alone Bill Callahan, to live up to the standards that Steve Pederson set on December 1, 2003. And as it turns out, Bill Callahan couldn't even match the results of the guy Steve Pederson fired.
So if it's Bo, what does that mean? Well, focus first goes to who Pelini hires as his assistants. That will make or break him. I'm sure there will be some familiar names, such as Marvin Sanders. Not all of these guys have to have a link to the Nebraska program, though. Ties to the program are less important than the quality of these coaches. And when I say quality, I mean that Nebraska needs to have a well-rounded coaching staff. Four years ago, Nebraska went out there and hired the best recruiters available. What did we get? Highly rated recruiting classes, but poor performing teams that never were developed.
Well rounded means that you need to be able to recruit a little, scheme a little, motivate a little, teach a little. Some guys may be better at one thing than another, that's ok. But overall, Nebraska needs to ensure that overall, this coaching staff does everything well: recruiting, teaching, game-planning, and motivating. It doesn't do Nebraska any good to dismiss any of these areas, as it will bite the Huskers eventually. It nailed Bill Callahan's coffin this year.
I do have some reservations about Pelini. He's not the most polished. He may say or do something to get himself into trouble. That's why it's important to have Pelini surrounded by a great support staff to help prevent it.
So why do I like Pelini? Simple. I simply believe the ceiling for Bo Pelini is higher than any other coach on the list. He's a master motivator, and a great technician. He relates to players better than any other coach I've seen. Of all the coaches that Nebraska has been considering, Pelini has the biggest upside of any of them.
It's a risk. He also has the biggest downside. There is no guarantee that this will work out. We might be sitting here in three or four years wondering how anybody could have thought Bo Pelini would have been a good head coach. Or we might also be wondering why so many schools passed before on Pelini.
It's a gamble to be sure. But the next few years are going to be VERY interesting, and if Bo Pelini is indeed the next head coach, I'm more excited about the future of Nebraska football than I've been in four years.