There's no denying that Nebraska fans are disappointed over the 2011 Husker football season. Some are downright angry, and much to my surprise, seemingly giving up on Bo Pelini. They aren't quite calling for Pelini to be fired; they just express total pessimism for the future of Nebraska football. Take this entry from Brian Towle of HuskerLocker, where he compares Pelini to Nick Saban, he of the three national championship rings.
Saban's on top of his game right now, with two AP national championships in the last three years. Add in his 2003 title with LSU and every Saban recruiting class since 2000 has a national championship. An impressive stat, even if you factor in Saban's two years in the NFL and that his final LSU recruiting class earned their national championship with Les Miles, not Saban, as head coach. Oh, and a defensive coordinator named Bo Pelini.
Saban's job hopping earned him hate from Michigan State fans, LSU fans , and Miami Dolphin fans. Everybody loves Raymond? Everybody (except 'Bama fans) hate Nick. And when Saban bolts from Tuscaloosa (not a question of if, but when), Bama fans will join the Saban hate parade.
But Saban's got the resume now. Funny thing, though...is that Saban didn't always have that resume.
6-5-1. 6-6. 7-5. 6-6.
That's Saban's coaching record his first four years at Michigan State. 25-22-1. 53% winning percentage. An improvement over his predecessor (19-26, 42%). But look at Pelini: 38-16 in his first four years at Nebraska for a 70% winning percentage. An even bigger improvement over his predecessor (27-22, 55%).
So Pelini's had better results than Saban in his first four years. But what about the other criticism, such as an athletic department not demanding excellence? I'm still trying to understand that one. How do you hold a coach "accountable" for "only" going 9-4? Seriously. I agree that 9-4 is disappointing for Nebraska this season, but please tell me how you hold a coach "accountable" for going 9-4.
Coaching and player development? Not quite sure where he's going with this one, but he's blaming Pelini for not "prodding or reigning in his offensive coordinator". Which is it? Should Nebraska have been more aggressive or less aggressive offensively? Towle doesn't say...just that Pelini's bad. Saban recruits all year long...then implies that Pelini doesn't. Implies, but doesn't back that implication up with any evidence.
It's angry fan talking. And since not everybody shares the "grab the pitchforks and torches" uproar in loud (and of course, non-violent) protest, that must mean we're just peachy keen pleased with a four loss season. Here's the problem with that: show me someone who's happy with that at Nebraska. Nobody's happy. It's just that some fans recognize that there are worse things than going 9-4 at Nebraska. It's called perspective.
And that's something that Angry Fan is lacking right now. Hopefully outbursts like this are cathartic...and that we get this out of our system quickly.
Pelini has been a better head coach than Nick Saban was in his first four years. Hopefully, Pelini will continue to improve. But criticizing Pelini for not being Saban is rather excessive at this point. Pelini deserves a lot of criticism: blowout losses and a porous secondary, for starters. But his record to date has more than earned him time (and much more of it) to resolve those problems.