Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst’s decision to fire Bo Pelini was based on the Cornhuskers not performing well in marquee games, and not winning Big Ten championships and competing for national championships.
Still, Pelini was 67-27 with the Cornhuskers, so there was a certain amount of success. The key is finding the person who can help Nebraska take the next step on the field, while not losing the recruiting battles off it.
No one talks to more recruits and high school coaches than the Scout team of national recruiting analysts, and all seven were polled to get their thoughts on the type of coach Eichorst needs to hire to make his goal of winning championships come to fruition.
Greg Biggins, West
I think the Big 10 is evolving from the days when it was mostly thought of as a run dominated conference lacking in speed and skill, and made up mostly of size and brawn. Ohio State has shown you can run a dynamic offense and be successful. Now, you still need to be physical and Wisconsin and Michigan State are great examples but, for me, I think if you have to recruit nationally, which Nebraska does, it helps to have an exciting brand to sell. For that reason, I would look for an offensive-minded head coach who believes in an imaginative, up-tempo type offense recruits often cite as their preference to play in.
Brian Dohn, East
College football is all about scoring points these days, and the best way to get the best skill players is to go with an up-tempo offense. Nebraska needs a coach who is willing to run a wide open offense, but that does not mean one who wants to throw the ball 40 times a game.
The Cornhuskers need someone who knows the offensive side, and can hire a big-time defensive coordinator to handle that side of the ball. The new coach also must have a nice collection of assistant coaches he worked with at other programs so he can bring them to Lincoln to aid in the national recruiting Nebraska needs to do because of its location. Having recruiting ties in Texas and Florida to tap into the speed is a must.
Nebraska does not need a charismatic coach. It needs a great coach because the brand will sell itself if the program is good.
Brandon Huffman, West
Nebraska needs a proven guy, someone who’s not getting on-the-job training, but someone who’s had experience as a head coach, can manage a program, can handle alumni and boosters, and also can sit in a living room. I still think hiring a defensive-minded guy works best. And I think if they look at Wisconsin, they can see a successful model- a defensive minded head coach who hires a proven offensive coordinator he lets coach. And one who will open up his offense.
Jamie Newberg, Florida
A good coach is a good coach, whether it's a proven guy or an up-and-comer, so they just need to find the best guy for the long term.. First and foremost, they need a recruiter. I look at Nebraska like I look at Tennessee in terms of recruiting. To be successful on the recruiting front at both schools you have to be able to recruit nationally because there is not much in their respective backyards.
For the Cornhuskers, Texas should be a priority as well as California and Florida. Now that they are established in the Big Ten, that should open up Ohio. You are looking at four of the five top producing states with prospects in that quartet. And a good recruiter can be more than just a guy that goes out and signs four and five-stars. A good recruiter is also the guy who finds the gems that are the three-stars. These guys are great evaluators of talent.
In terms of style you have to play defense and be fast and athletic, especially with Urban Meyer at Ohio State. He's going to load up with play makers and you have to be able to combat that and try and match them athlete to athlete. Offensively, in that league, you have to have balance. Sure, the game has become much more wide open in the Big 10 now but you still have to be able to run the ball effectively.
Greg Powers, Midlands
Nebraska needs a coach that can come in and take the program to the next level. The firing of Pelini proves that the university is not satisfied with just a solid winning record. It is hungry to compete and play in the Big 10 championship game, and beyond that to get in to the College Football Playoff mix.
With that preface, I would think anything less than an established coach with a history or proven track record would and should be looked upon with some skepticism, because they already had a guy in place who could win. An established coach comes in with the potential ties to great assistants who could call the offense and defense.
Chad Simmons, Southeast
In today's college game, it is trending towards offense first. There are a lot of fast, spread offenses out there who look to out-score their opponents. Some coaches still use the traditional offenses and win, but more and more are going towards the one back, three or four wide receiver sets. I believe both styles can win. A coach has to go with what he believes in and the style he knows how install and teach. It comes down to getting the right personnel -- typically the schools that win in recruiting consistently, win on the field consistently.
A coach with experience helps, but all great head coaches have to start somewhere. I'm not huge on the experience factor, so find the right mindset, the right personality, the right confidence level, and the right attitude, and hire him without looking back.
Allen Trieu, Midwest
I think the good thing about Nebraska is you have great tradition, a great game day atmosphere and a very nice campus to be able to work with, so you have built in advantages the minute you take the job. I think you want an up-and-comer right now. You want to breathe new life in. You have the old-school nature of the school with the tradition and success, and I think if you add in some youth and energy, you have a great mix.
I think, given the nature of the school, you want a Midwestern-style guy. Not necessarily a guy from the Midwest, but even if it's a younger guy, a bit of a traditional approach still needs to remain in my opinion based on the types of kids they recruit.