Since we’ve been down this road before, the situation shouldn’t
be all that new. Yes, it’s a head coach and some possible assistants rather than
a whole bunch of assistants, but the question remains the same....’when will
something be announced?’. The current stagnation in recruiting begs that this
matter be resolved, but for one, Bo Pelini, the waiting game is a game where
he’s ultimately going to be the winner.
As I might have said in a few pieces here and there and
hypothesized on, there’s a variety of scenarios that could be playing out right
now. All which involve some sort of contract negotiations, quibbling on details
and people trying to find that fine line between ego and objectivity.
I do think that it’s safe to say though that the longer this
process drags out, there more Bo Pelini becomes the odds on favorite to go from
interim head coach, to permanently at the position.
This up-coming weekend is a considerable one as a great number
of official visitors will be present. Some that coach Pelini is recruiting
himself. Steve Pederson with all his years as a recruiting coordinator knows
that in this business, no news is never good news in the end.
Recruits want answers.
Up to this point, recruits have been given the ‘things are ok,
this is still Nebraska and no matter, it’s a great place to be’ rebuttal. That
works only so long as recruits, most recently, Andre Brown have decided that in
order for them to be sure about their future, their going to look more closely
at those schools who’s futures are not as up in the air.
You can expect that to continue and yes, you can expect current
commits of the Huskers to look around as some already have. Allan Evridge is
slated to visit Kansas State this up-coming weekend and you know one of the
first things they will say. ‘We’re not just the Big XII champs, but we have a
head coach, you know what our offense is going to look like and our continuity
speaks for itself’.
That’s a tough one to argue with, but Evridge and his parents
are awfully fond of offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, Barney Cotton and Nebraska’s new but interim head coach. Chances are, if Pelini keeps
the job and Cotton is still around, Evridge will still be a Husker.
The list goes on from there as to the recruits that will keep
looking Nebraska’s way if the fiery, Pelini does get the job in the end. And, of
course those recruits that are committed more than likely will stay that way or
at least a good deal of them, again some based on what happens to the
If you can say one thing about Bo Pelini is that you’ll never
have to ask him what he means. Straight forward, almost to a fault, Pelini gives
you the shortest answer to your question, all with a glare that dares you to ask
In truth, Pelini is actually extremely personable off-camera,
but it’s on-camera, in front of the press, well, if there is a learning curve
for the Ohio native, this one will be it.
It’s not that Pelini has an issue with questions, but the type
of question it is certainly has as much potential to raise his ire as it does to
get an objective response. Question him, but don’t question his ability. Be
inquisitive about how he does things, but don’t ask him to explain why. Pelini
is what is, almost ‘old school’ in his personality, simple in his philosophies
and very cut and dry with how he puts all of this together.
In short, Pelini is what he is and expect no compromise. As
simple as his methodology seems when approaching the game, it’s equally simple
in how he relates to everyone else. What you see is what you get. Don’t like it?
That’s your problem.
While he’s probably described as a little abrupt, Pelini’s
personality also lends to a great deal of affection. Probably not from the
media, but certainly from those he coaches and those he considers close friends.
I will make an assumption of the man that I believe to be completely accurate in
that I think if you are his friend, you are one forever and he’s fiercely loyal
to those he calls friends. If you’re not, find the nearest exit.
Because of who and what he is, Pelini either makes for the best
possible coach you can have or the worst, but how that pans out usually depends
on ability. I would think that based on what Pelini did with the defense this
last year as a whole, that question is quickly answered.
With all his potential, his candidacy as the permanent H.C. for
Nebraska shouldn’t have been an issue, but it really hasn’t come down to his
potential, but that of those other candidates involved.
Of course, we’ll never know for a fact who everyone is, because
if you just listened to what certain coaches are saying and of course, Pederson
himself, NU has interviewed nobody and absolutely nobody has contacted NU about
the job. None you can at least identify by name anyway.
With that being said, when you heard names like Urban Meyer
being thrown around, again, it wasn’t that Pelini didn’t have what it took to
lead the team, but maybe someone else had exactly what NU wanted. An established
head coach, someone that knew offenses and a proven recruiter on top of that. No
fault to Pelini that he didn’t fit those criteria, thus no reason to assume that
pondering any other candidates should be considered an insult.
As someone recently reminded me, it’s just good business.
A business decision hasn’t been made though and the clock is
ticking away. The more the hands move, the more the pendulum swings clearly into
Bo Pelini’s favor. It almost becomes his job to lose. Or rather, Steve
Pederson’s job to lose him.
Athletic Director, Steve Pederson is not in an enviable position
right now. I mean, it’s not just about contract negotiations, discussions on
clauses and figuring out where the money is going to come from or if there is
even enough. It’s about being a director, politician, businessman and even
diplomat all rolled into one. That fine line between ego and objectivity?
Pederson has to find that not just with whoever he is negotiating with, but
himself at the same time.
Steve Pederson has made no bones about the fact that he had a
plan. The very decisive firing of Frank Solich after he posted a 9-win season
for Nebraska would back that up considerably. If his plan is so well
orchestrated in his head, that could lead to problems down the road, because
some coaches might not want their contracts to fall, word-for-word within this
plan Pederson has formulated.
What do you do then?
Obviously, you do what any A.D. would do and make sure the
program succeeds even if it’s not a success that can be directly attributed to
this vision of the future. Success is success and whoever gets the credit in the
end, well, it should be academic.
That’s why this is probably Pelini’s job to lose.
No, the NFL notwithstanding, Pelini’s resume’ might not quite be
that of some of the names we have heard being thrown around as possible
candidates for the job, but when you sit back and think of the kind of coach you
want simply in regards to what they know and what they have the capability of
doing, Pelini will be hard to beat.
As a recruiter, the book hasn’t been written as this is his
first full year scouting the prep-world, trying to convince them to come to
Nebraska. But, there’s a group of kids coming in this weekend from Florida that
are doing so because of him, a group of kids in Ohio that are all still looking
at NU even now because of him and kids that are currently Husker commits that
want to see just what happens to the former linebacker coach for Green
If his final returns are as good as what he’s shown thus far,
Pelini’s prowess with the preps could be amazing.
As a leader, forget about it. Starting RE, Benard Thomas went
from a guy that almost didn’t want to be at Nebraska anymore to a guy that said
he would "run through a wall" for his coach. That type of impact was not limited
to just him, that I can assure you. Players respect him, they fight for him,
thus the motivation is obvious.
No head coach is the perfect head coach. No, not even Tom
Osborne was faultless in his 25 years at the helm. With Pelini, there will be
questions about the offensive staff, who will take his place as D.C. and some
will ask while hiding behind a notepad if anything similar as to what happened
immediately following the Kansas State game could be expected to resurface.
Bo Pelini’s emotions reside squarely on his sleeve and yes, the
actions by him towards Bill Snyder were even applauded, such intensity seemingly
so rare from a coach at Nebraska. As an assistant, you’ll get away with that,
maybe even twice, but as a head coach, the demands go up, but those "unwritten
rules" are far more numerous.
What Pelini will have to learn is what any coach has to learn,
but if such wasn’t possible, no assistants would have ever ascended to the job.
I guess most call that the benefit of the doubt.
What there isn’t a doubt of as well is the fact that as the
clock ticks down, recruiting time dwindles ever shorter, a head coach will have
to be named. Not after a bowl game, not after the NFL season, the decision as to
who the head coach for Nebraska is must happen and happen soon.
For that reason especially, but only one of many others, Pelini
is in what you could call the catbird’s seat. I don’t know if you could call
this a decent analogy, but if you like, you could say that right now, Steve
Pederson is on offense, Bo Pelini is on defense.
Anyone want to bet who comes out on top?
Steve Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or