Should He Stay Or Should Bo Go? Assessing Bo Pelini at Nebraska After Another Blown Lead

Nebraska will not win the Big Ten this year. It won’t even win its division. Bo Pelini must endure another year of questions after his defense failed to protect another double-digit lead.

Is Nebraska no longer “Nebraska,” or should the Huskers rightly expect more out of their program? That’s the question at the heart of the Bo Pelini debate, and the Student Section editors are ready to tackle that issue.


Question: How would you assess the coaching situation at Nebraska — does Bo Pelini need to be fired, or does he just have to be forced to hire a defensive coordinator with playcalling autonomy?

Terry Johnson:

On Twitter: @SectionTPJ

Looking at his entire body of work, it would seem strange that anyone would want to dismiss Bo Pelini. In his seven seasons in Lincoln, Nebraska has won four division titles and have won no fewer than eight games every year. That total would expand to no fewer than nine wins if the Huskers record a victory in the season finale or their bowl game.

While this type of success would earn a multi-year extension at most programs, it’s not going to cut it at Nebraska. Anyone who’s spent five minutes with a Cornhusker fan knows that the program expects to compete for a national championship every year. Simply capturing a division title won’t do.

Just ask former coach Frank Solich. Tom Obsorne’s hand-picked successor, Solich led the Huskers to a Big 12 championship in 1999, while guiding the Cornhuskers to an appearance in the BCS National Championship Game (the Rose Bowl) in the 2001 season. However, after an unsuccessful (by NU standards) 7-7 mark in 2002, the school fired Solich in 2003, even though Nebraska posted a 9-3 mark that season.

If the school is going to fire a coach like Solich – who posted more wins than Osborne and Bob Devaney did in their first six seasons in Lincoln – why wouldn’t it dismiss Pelini? While Pelini (58) won as many games as Solich did in his first six years, the Cornhuskers have yet to win a conference championship or appear in a BCS game under his leadership.

As much as it pains me to say it about any coach – especially one as colorful as Pelini – it’s time for Nebraska to make a leadership change.


Bart Doan:

On Twitter: @TheCoachBart

You’ve gotta keep Bo Pelini, and not just for his fake @FauxPelini Twitter account. Y’all crazy trying to get rid of him?

Winning is hard. Like those last McDonald’s fries they shove in your bag before throwing a new batch on. While Nebraska under Pelini has had the same inexplicable errors year after year after year, the reality is that the grass is not always greener on the other side. Sometimes, the grass is flat out rotten.

We’ve seen how teams chasing away from 8-9 wins a year can go when letting go of a coach. Michigan did it with Lloyd Carr. Tennessee did it with Phil Fulmer. Hell, Nebraska did it with Frank Solich.

A key in life is not over-valuing yourself. You might think you’re the cat’s pajamas, but unless someone else does, who cares? Nebraska fans (and I don’t know this with any degree of authority) might be tired of the season after season after season of almost-but-not-enough, but it’s a whole helluva lot better than what Michigan, Tennessee, or Florida is going through right now.

Pelini hasn’t been the defensive savant everyone was hoping for when he was hired lo those many years ago, but let’s tap the breaks on replacing the guy. You’re not guaranteed 8-9 wins with anyone else, and you are with him.

And, hell, he has a nice looking cat.


Matt Zemek:

On Twitter: @SectionMZ

Bo Pelini’s “defenses” at Nebraska have had that Kevin Cosgrove flavor (remember the Bill Callahan era?) whenever a strong running team enters the building. At the very least, Nebraska has failed to hold Wisconsin under 400 rushing yards in each of its last two games against the Badgers, under two different UW coaches (Bret Bielema and Gary Andersen).

Pelini is 3-10 against the top 25 since Nebraska joined the Big Ten. His teams have blown 14-point leads in consecutive weeks. He has been coaching since 2008 at Nebraska, and has yet to win a conference title.

Lloyd Carr and Philip Fulmer won national titles, and a few conference titles along the way. Pelini does not exist in the same class, and it’s not close. When you go seven seasons without a conference title at Nebraska, with persistent defensive problems raging out of control, it’s time to go. Whether the power brokers in Lincoln will do something about it is another matter.