If you remember, I used to do a commentary piece in the magazine called "Four Down Territory". I felt like bringing it back tonight to talk through some of the things that I have been thinking about since the news last night of Carl Pelini reportedly heading to Florida Atlantic. So let's start out this series strong:
First Down: Loss of Carl Pelini will hurt recruiting/team
I do not believe this one. Many have come to me and said that Zaire Anderson might be hit the hardest by the loss of Carl Pelini as his recruiting coach and as the defensive coordinator at Nebraska. First of all, Carl was involved with the recruiting of Anderson but was in no way the lead recruiter. The connection from Riverside Community College and Nebraska is through Rich Fisher. Fisher was the one that was told about Anderson by a player that he crossed paths with at Colorado when he was a GA, Darrin Chiaverini. Chiaverini is an associate head coach at Riverside and also the recruiting coordinator. Now, it's always possible that a commit changes his mind, but in the specific case of Anderson whom many people are assuming Nebraska will subsequently lose because Carl Pelini is leaving Nebraska don't know the Nebraska connection back to Anderson.
Second Down: More than one change coming on the defense
I'm not a believer in this one either unless Bo Pelini himself is leaving Lincoln (and I am in no way saying that he is). The defensive side of the football has undergone some changes in the last couple of years and it will endure more. Gone from last year are Marvin Sanders and Mike Ekeler. Sanders and Ekeler were replaced this season by Corey Raymond and Ross Els. The interesting part about Carl getting a head coaching job is that he and Els have crossed paths before. Pelini was the defensive line coach at Ohio from 2005-2007 while Els was the linebackers coach from 2005-2010. It's at least plausible that Els might get a chance to head to FAU with Carl to be a coordinator of some sort (was the special teams coordinator at Ohio) under Pelini. Another name that I think could follow Carl to FAU, albeit it's not a defensive related coach, is Vince Marrow. Marrow is currently a GA at Nebraska helping out with the tight ends.
Third Down: Who will be the next defensive coordinator at Nebraska
While it still hasn't been officially announced that Carl has been hired at FAU there are multiple sources reporting it as true. So, let's go with that for this question and answer. My prediction for Carl's successor as the defensive coordinator at Nebraska is John Papuchis. Papuchis has been with Bo now for a while. From 2005-2007, Papuchis was with Bo at LSU serving as a defensive intern/graduate assistant and of course in 2008 followed Bo to Nebraska. J.P. has put in his time and has been with Bo the longest of all of the assistant coaches that had been with Bo. It's logical. Also, it's the next step for J.P. who has served as the special teams coordinator since 2008 and the recruiting coordinator on top of that for the past year. I also can't see an outside hire leap frogging what J.P. has done while under Bo.
Fourth Down: Concerns that there haven't been any commits this week
This I am VERY concerned about. It seemed to me that there were potentially a couple of players that with Nebraska coaches in the living rooms with some of the players that have already taken official visits to Nebraska that some might commit to Nebraska. I don't want to say specific names, but I just don't get the impression that even after strong weekends in Lincoln for official visits all season and a strong week on the road during the contact period that there is enough to show for the coaches' efforts. Maybe it's just me, but the car has been stuck in neutral now for a while with Zaire Anderson being the last commitment on October 19th and Tommy Armstrong coming before him on September 19th. Since the start of the season Nebraska has only received two commitments and actually reportedly lost one of the previously committed players, Deion Jones, to LSU.