Just say "BO"?

Weren't we here before? Say, not even a year ago? The winds of change and all that? I don't know what's worse, the speculation about the changes up-coming or the changes themselves. One thing is certain though and that if all that happens is supposed to, the recently dramatic metamorphosis of the Nebraska Cornhuskers is once again, just getting started.

The rumors abound, whispers pervasive at the coffee tables around the state, inside the booths of sports shows and littered around the internet as if a slowly growing virus, gaining momentum with every second un-addressed.

Frank Solich is about to be the former head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

The fact that the rumors exist isn't any sort of new deal. Some have been swirling since the day Solich took the position, replacing the legendary, Tom Osborne.

Of course, last year as the team saw most every major streak of positivity go into the tank and this year, fans saw NU lose in humiliating fashion to both Kansas State and Texas, while they completely melted down against the Missouri Tigers, giving up yet another record, but this time there was nothing positive about the 27 points given up in the final quarter of play.

Lots of reasons to wonder about how secure a head coaches' job really is and that's including all the dramatic assistant coaching changes made last season.

Actually, that's especially because of those changes that Frank Solich now finds himself directly in the cross hairs, whereas last year, he was just one of the many that were targeted as reasons for Nebraska's recent meeting with mediocrity.

The headline making moves brought in a bevy of new names, well one new and the rest, people affiliated with Nebraska at some point in time in their lives.

That's the Nebraska way.

Don't necessarily bring in the most qualified candidates, rather the candidates that have the best combination of being qualified, but having some sort of Nebraska ties. That's to ensure loyalty to the program's success and to try and get more than just a few years out of them as each tries to climb the ladder, perhaps to the NFL.

Well, except for Bo Pelini.

The 'I don't give a rat's behind what you think of me, what I do or how I do it', former NFL assistant stood as a break from the norm for the Nebraska program, bringing in what you would consider a 'true' outsider. Heck, he played for Ohio State for God's sake.

Ironic then when the fire under the cauldron of rumors behind Solich's swan song is at it's hottest, one of the names that keeps coming up to replace the head coach is the one that has no Nebraska ties whatsoever.

My question as to this theory behind Pelini being the head coach, only one year into this stint as an assistant college coach is why? Aside from his 'take it or leave it' personality and knack for taking the shortest route to the answer for any question, what's the motivation behind making the former Packer asst. captain of the ship?

Some of it does have to do with his personality, Pelini's demeanor very unique to the faithful of NU fans used to stoic types, vanilla types or just the kind that have a knack for staying out of the public eye.

Pelini is none of that and more.

You ask him a question, better have your guard up for the answer, because there won't be any search for which catch-phrase applies best in this situation, "Bo" giving you what the most efficient answer to your question. Plus, he might even goad you a little if you doesn't like the question at all.

His fieriness isn't unusual to see as Charlie McBride, Milt Tenopir and oh yes, Bob Devaney were quite animated at times themselves, but except for Devaney, which means for the last 30 or so years, people have gotten used to seeing some emotion on the side-lines, but once they got off the field, it was to a great extent, an orchestrated, vanilla and at times, boring collection of rebuttal A, rebuttal B and an occasional retort off of the back page, just to throw some 'color' into the back and forth with the media.

I'll ask again though, why?

There is a lot of shock value to Pelini and his NFL credentials are nice. And, yes, throw in his efforts to turn a terrible defense into one that actually went after the ball, showed at least some passion and for the most part, never got criticized for throwing in the towel before it was all said and done.

If you are looking simply at his defensive exploits though, remember that Pelini's defense did get literally undressed for what would amount to be 7 quarters of play. The one-quarter meltdown in Missouri, the half-a-game nose dive against Kansas State and a game against the Longhorns where they would have done only slightly worse if they hadn't shown up at all.

The offense can take the blame for some of it, the lack of talent strewn from sideline to sideline can also be a factor, but the idea that all these cave ins coming to mobile quarterbacks is just too much of a coincidence.

I remember an interview Pelini did where he said he had been in the NFL 9 years and he had seen all the offense he will ever see. That of course implying that he's seen enough during his tenure in the NFL concerning the vast array of offenses used, that he wouldn't see anything at the collegiate level that would make him actually scratch his head.

That being said, it was Pelini himself that acknowledged the fact that against Utah State, he said that they were about as unorthodox an offense as he had ever seen.

Listen, this isn't a 'bash bo' piece, because I am like a lot of people in that I love his fieriness, his candor and his potential, but it's odd that a guy who's only coached at the collegiate level one year and who's never been a head coach at all would have the inside track to a job that would put him as the head man of one of the most elite traditions in college football history.

Ahhh, now there's the issue. This is Nebraska. This is the Cornhuskers, winners of 5 national titles, 3 in 4 years. They have won 60 games in a five-year span, never achieved before. They have two teams that are considered to be amongst the best if not the best teams that have ever taken the field at this level. 3 Heisman winners, 8 outland winners, Lombardi, Butkus and Davey O'Brien awards in addition. This is Nebraska, damnit and they deserve the best possible candidate for the job.

Everyone thinks that, but this isn't Nebraska just coming off of a national title as they were when Frank Solich took over. This is a Nebraska team reeling from a major clash with mediocrity, the Huskers now considered a middle of the road team, capable of beating the door mats, but as equally capable of being door mats themselves to the better teams in the game.

There is no fear of the Huskers anymore. Nobody trembles to come into Lincoln to play amidst the "Sea of Red". Even teams the likes of Utah State, Troy State and Southern Miss. think they can beat Nebraska, no matter where they play.

Unthinkable, isn't it?

The Big Red is now a luminescent pink, other teams fearing NU about as much as they fear Colorado State, Boston College or even, Marshall. Desperate times indeed for the infamous program.

Is the thought that Bo Pelini could be the next head coach then a desperate measure? Hardly.

I cover recruiting and if there is one thing I have noticed about the relationships Pelini has developed with players he is personally going after is that his demeanor is welcomed and at times even refreshing. He's as full of BS there as he is in any other instance, which is to say, there's none present at all.

He'll tell you the way it is, kidding a little, talking a little about stuff that matters only to that recruit, but there's always the bottom line with him and that's winning games. Bringing in talent that he sees as what it takes to not just start well, but finish well.

And as to those duties that he would be asked to do and ask of himself as a head coach, you have only to look at what Frank Solich relegated himself to after all the changes were made this last year. No longer the offensive coordinator, no longer being a major part of putting game plans together, Solich put himself in a position where he could be personally involved more with the players, developing relationships and of course, trying to manage games while not being the manager of them.

Not a figurehead by any definition, but a person that could be there to motivate the team, oversee all operations, being an inspector of quality, quantity and yes, the ultimate results. A person that would be able to adjust at a moment's notice along with knowing when to leave well enough alone.

And most importantly, a coach that would be able to inspire his players to leave everything on the field, his personnel wanting to "go through a wall" for him, because he asks nothing less.

That's Bo Pelini.

He won't coddle you nor after any familiarity with him would you expect as much. Pelini won't tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to hear to either be a move meant to slap you back into reality or let you know that you are doing well.

And, if you want to know how much effort and fire you can get out of your players, just look at Nebraska's defense this year. No, they haven't been the best and at times, looked bad, but I don't think you can question the effort throughout.

Would a player quit? On Pelini? I wouldn't bet on that one if I were you.

The bottom line with Pelini even being considered for the potential opening at NU is the fact that he doesn't fit that mold that has fit to most of the coaches that have walked the sidelines for NU in the last 30 years. No Nebraska ties means no loyalty or such would be thought from the criteria used in hiring most of the coaches the last few decades.

And Pelini isn't a Nebraska guy, so how can anyone trust a position to a guy that might bolt for a better job back into the NFL?

There are plenty of illustrations of coaches once here that did have Nebraska ties that are now are somewhere else. Just being a "Nebraska Guy" doesn't make you permanently part of the NU landscape.

So, some say why and I say why not.

Youth, energy, fire, respect and a desire to win potent on the verge of obsessive. That's what you want and if that coach isn't demanded to call the plays and prepare the offensive game plans, where does it say you have to have experience in being a head coach somewhere else to do that?

What you need to be is a leader, a maker of men and a person that has the respect of those around him. You need to provide fire, inspire the same and be able to bring in kids year to year that can help maintain or build a team that simply gets better.

Tell me that isn't Bo Pelini and tell me that most of the staff around him doesn't provide a good template for Nebraska to get back to being that Nebraska everyone has become accustomed.

If the rumors prove to be true and sometimes they actually do, Steve Pederson will be looking or maybe already has started with the job of finding a new head man. And, when there are so many on the staff and around the country that would give their eye-teeth for the position of being the head coach for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, irony reigns supreme in that the one guy possibly best suited for the position recently said that he would have no problem just picking up and leaving if necessary.

The funny thing about change is not the change itself, but what happens after. It justifies the opinion of a person when those changes are made or vilifies them when it doesn't work. Hindsight is always the best judge as to whether someone went off half-cocked and made changes just to say they did or the decisions ultimately were what was best for the program.

Is Solich possibly being gone what is best for the program? Only time will tell, but if he is no longer part of the coaching staff next year, people have to think about it really hard as to what and who they want instead. What's best for the program? An established head coach with a long record of winning or a head coach with the potential to create one? Go with what you know or go with what could be?

We were here just a year ago, but not like this. This time, it's different and the decisions made if the change does happen will have to be considered the hope for the future of NU.

Will that be Bo Pelini?

Maybe, maybe not, but you could do a helluva lot worse. And, you never know. Bo Pelini could be a "Nebraska Guy" in the end.

Steve Ryan can be reached at huskerconnection@neb.rr.com or 402-730-5619

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