To refresh, Part 1 was a veiled prediction that, based on the latest D meltdown and already screeching tenor of the fan base, that Bo won’t survive what seems destiny to not be competitive for a B1G title and thus there was little point to engaging in raucous debate as to whether Bo should stay or go, when the answer is all but written.
Secondly, since the two sides of Husker Nation are so polarized, convincing the opposing view to come around has become as hopeless as convincing Kim Jong Un to dance Gangnam Style on the 38th parallel. With debate futile, the hook in Part 1 was to respond to the typical reasons forwarded for keeping Pelini, to maybe promote some understanding or in a small way soften the impending blow should the deal go down. No profound bridging of the two sides was an expected outcome of the experiment.
Part 2 covers off a few more frequently heard “keep Bo” comments, but since Part 1 was just prior to the Deadspin drop, Osborne’s subsequent statement has unwittingly added to the list. TO’s deliberate, but oddly-worded statement praising Bo’s academic accomplishments as “the best in my recollection,” contradicts the GSR data that shows a steep decline in NU football graduation rates aligning directly with Bo’s tenure and NU has actually slipped below the national average.
|Scout.com - The Bootleg Graduation Rate Analysis Nebraska Football|
|NU GSR 2007||88%|
|NU GSR 2008 (Bo's first year)||83%|
|NU GSR 2009||78%|
|NU GSR 2010||72%|
|NU GSR 2011||68%|
|NU GSR 2012||67%|
|NU GSR 2013||68%|
|GSR Average All Schools (2011)||70%|
|GSR = Graduation Success Rate (monitored by NCAA)|
In short, academics have been a huge component of NU pride and it pains to question Dr. Tom on any front, so if anyone can explain how the contradiction somehow makes sense, aside from trying to justify that a strong cumulative GPA excuses a 20 point drop in players leaving NU with sheepskins, please email. Now back to the original Part 2 content.
It’s a young defense. Give him a chance
Bo’s being given a chance this year. This year it’s a young D and next year it will be a young O. Last year it was a seasoned team across the board with all Bo recruits and they averaged giving up 575 yards/game in four losses. Either Bo shows quickly he has developed a programmatic method for competing in the B1G or he’s failed to do what he was hired to do and what he committed to do. College rosters change every year. It’s the coach’s job to plan, restock, and make it work.
How can you forget no one wanted to coach at NU after firing a 9-3 coach?
The most memorable part of the Post-Solich coaching search was how Steve Pederson put on a clinic on how not to conduct a coaching search. There was seemingly zero advance preparation, almost total autonomy, and his transparency was baffling.
After trolling the NFL with loose change in his pocket, he freakishly laser focused on Houston Nutt, a SEC caricature full of so much BS and shadiness you’d think Mack Brown and Barry Switzer recreated one of those old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup ads and accidentally combined their DNA. Nutt ultimately leveraged SP’s stupidity to keep his Arkansas job and Pederson played the role of village idiot in the town square with his pants down. Desperate after 35 days of futility, Pedey saw Bill Callahan hitch-hiking his way east on I-80 and it was a match born of necessity.
You hope NU’s hired an AD that’s aware of established protocols and private search firms. It won’t be easy and it’s admitted that if Mack and Lane both get sacked, NU will at best be the 3rd best job. Then again, the prediction is UT will insist on spending at least $5MM and when the Austin brain trusts’ false bravado bubble bursts learning Nick Saban hasn’t been secretly obsessed with coaching at Texas, they’ll wave $5MM at Chris Pedersen and get their man. Haden at USC will likely grab a USC family member or also go a little rich for NU’s blood, so overlap on targets would be minimal.
So who will want to coach at Nebraska after they fire a successful coach like Pelini?
Great question if Head Coach-types weren’t fiercely competitive and continually challenging themselves to climb to the peak of their profession.
The real question is: Who will want to coach at a premier football school, in a rich, yet winnable conference, with amazing facilities, unlimited support, that gave a first time head coach autonomy for 6 years to capture a Conference Title while also making him the 14th richest coach in the NCAA?
If NU is willing to go into the market, even with a similar deal to Bo’s and provide assurances that, barring something akin to lying about a motorcycle accident with a not-your-wife female employee, etc., that he’ll have 5 years to win over the fan base and compete for conference titles. Here’s a sample of people who would seriously consider that job:
- Almost any Mid-major Head Coach
- Almost any BCS school Assistant Coach
- Many mid-tier BCS school Head Coaches that made a successful Mid-major hop a few years ago
- Many Head Coaches at schools without the facilities and support of NU
- Many NFL Assistant Coaches
- Any able-bodied NU coaching alum
We said “who” not “what type”
Fair enough. The below list is off the cuff and hasn’t been fully vetted, but is a sample of to illustrate many options will exist. Most importantly, and the subject of the next article, is that Nebraska needs to determine down to the fine detail what they prioritize from their coach, be it sticking with Bo Pelini or changing nameplates on the office, because few “all things” coaches exist. In no particular order:
- Paul Rhodes (HC Iowa State)
- Kyle Whittingham (HC Utah)
- Scott Frost (Asst. Coach Oregon)
- Charlie Strong (HC Louisville)
- Rick Neuheisel (psyche, just making sure you’re paying attention)
- Bill Blankenship (HC Tulsa)
- James Franklin (HC Vandy)
- Mack Brown (soon available and promises he’ll use hairspray or wear a hat)
- Larry Fedora (HC North Carolina, who is named after a hat)
- Dave Christiansen (HC Wyoming)
- Art Briles (HC Baylor)
- David Cutcliffe (HC Duke)
- Al Golden (HC Miami, unlikely and only if the ‘Canes get hammered by NCAA)
- Kirby Smart (DC Alabama)
- Clarence Thomas or Larry the Cable Guy (prob different styles, but haven’t they both earned it?)
- Bud Foster (DC Virginia Tech)
- Lovie Smith (ex-HC Chicago Bears)
- Ken Whisenhunt (OC San Diego Chargers / ex-HC Arizona Cardinals)
- Tim Albin (OC Ohio University)
- Kyle Shanahan (OC Washington Redskins)
- And of course Bill Callahan (OK just messin’ with folks dead-certain Bo “haters” want him back).
NU will not get fierce loyalists like Fitzgerald from NU purple (or NUrple), Patterson from TCU who is now in a BCS conference, or Petersen from Boise. Of course some of the choicer ones on the list would decline (except ol’ Mack Brown who’d be “all-in”) and after vetting, some others are likely not NU material. Again, it’s small sample of coaches with noteworthy accomplishments that wouldn’t laugh hysterically and/or hang-up on NU’s phone call.
After all’s said and done
Reality is this writer has no idea whether Bo will go down and never wanted him to go down, but it’s a safe bet that if the D doesn’t substantially improve real fast, there’s little hope of a marked improvement in record, ranking, and bowl status. In a year with a hugely favorable schedule, the guess is that Bo doesn’t survive for those reasons and because of his inability to win over many fans for reasons aside from not winning titles.
The questions the real decision makers need to ask themselves before shaking up a program are: Who can truly define a repeatable process for NU to regularly compete for (not win) conference (not national) titles? How many schools are really drowning in off-field issues and what realistically is NU’s risk? How many coaches couldn’t maintain a better than average GSR given the extensive support structure that’s been in place at NU for decades? Finally, after all’s said and done, what really makes Bo Pelini a coach you can’t replace? GBR
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