I don't know that anyone is going to start referring to Bo Pelini as a Cinderella, but that's actually not a real stretch. This will be his first head coaching gig, and according to some of his own players at LSU, he referred to the job of being head coach at Nebraska as a "dream job."
Considering how long he's been an assistant in Division 1-A, I could see where he gets that. After all, outside of a stint as a G.A. at Iowa, the Ohio native has been coaching in this division for all of five years. Even when you consider his resume' coming from the professional ranks as a position coach, that's pretty darn good.
To some, it's too good.
You've got Turner Gill over in Buffalo , coming off his second season with the Bulls, having just won the MAC Coach of the Year Award. And yes, there's all that wonderful Nebraska familiarity that comes from being a legend for the big red as a player and an assistant coach, who has a Heisman Trophy winner to his name.
One might say that Pelini simply hasn't paid his dues
I say "and?"
What is "Paying your dues?"
Is that the same kind of logic that goes into being inducted into the Hall of Fame? Some guys get in simply because they played for 30 years. They paid their dues. Maybe they weren't all that good, but damnit, they played for a generation, so they should get in.
Or maybe they don't think Bo deserves a shot, because he's known as a hothead
Yeah, I love that one
Anyone ever seen any of those wonderful old films of Nebraska football back in the day when Bob Devaney roamed the sidelines? Yeah, he was real stoic.
OK, I will give you something in that I don't think Devaney ever went across the field and told a coach to go F.. himself, because his team got it handed to them on their home field.
We'll call that a learning process.
But there's a bottom line when it comes to something like that. You remember Woody Hayes? Well, before Woody Hayes went Jack Lambert with the clothes line on Clemson linebacker Charlie Bauman in the 1978 Gator Bowl, this guy spewed vitriol at other teams, verbally assaulted his own guys and he'd make Archie Bunker look like Mr. Congeniality.
That Bauman-blow was the last straw, Hayes losing his job the very next day. But this man had a host of antics, outbursts and "events" which cemented his rather tirade-laden reputation long before this incident ever took place.
Well, Ohio State lost that game. And just the year before, they got hammered by Alabama . And the real kicker when it comes to Ohio State , they lost to Michigan three years in a row. His ultimate implosion might have been as timely as it was pronounced, because it gave everyone an easy excuse to dump him and move on.
Now, don't think I am comparing Pelini's outburst at former Kansas State Head Coach Bill Snyder to the greatests "hits" of Woody Hayes. And I am not saying that either is similar in their overall disposition.
What I am talking about is how fans can actually think that a fiery coach, just because he's fiery, is not necessarily a good thing.
Let's not assume for one second, because it's absolutely not true, that a coaches' personality has anything to do with how they are perceived.
Before Hayes went bonkers, his penchant for winning turned a surly nature into something almost endearing. His tirades were at worst, somewhat a byproduct of acceptable if not welcome eccentricities.
Lose to Michigan three times in a row?
He's the Anti-Christ
And I have seen the nicest guys in the world almost vilified, because they couldn't win the big game.
Tom Osborne anyone?
This is a common rule in all of sports, as it relates to any and all sports fans:
Almost anything can be excused, no matter how seemingly offensive, as long as you win.
And almost everything will be criticized, no matter how seemingly benign, if you lose.
A person's character has nothing to do with the perception. It's only something that is used as either an excuse for a lack of success or a reason to rationalize how some of that success came to be.
Well, I'll tell you something; Pelini's character is just what this team needs.
When I think of a head coach, I don't think of some mastermind. I don't think of some great play-calling machine, who has this innate understanding of what to do in every conceivable down-and-distance situation.
To me, a head coach should be someone who can get his players to play, knows how to relate to those players off the field and when it comes to recruiting, they just need to know how to close the deal.
Any and every single great Head Coach will almost certainly have a backbone of quality assistants.
Barry Switzer was admittedly not a great Xs and Os guy. He was not one of those guys who would thrill you with his playbook vernacular. He had great assistants, he could motivate like no other and he was the first big-time recruiter of black athletes in Division 1-A.
His zeal was galvanizing and he could get his team to fight your team in a telephone booth.
And they'd like it
When Monday comes and the announcement comes, people will automatically put aside their reservations, thinking only about the future. They will look back on Pelini's successes at Nebraska and smile. Then they will look at what he's done since Nebraska , and that grin would only have to get bigger.
Sure, he hasn't been a head coach as of yet, but from where I am standing, he's already got a lot of what he needs. Now they just need to recruit like there's no tomorrow.
As for this temperament, if he wins it will be irrelevant and just considered a welcome addition to the team, someone who not only motivates, but you can tell they feel every snap of the ball as if they were on the field themselves.
That's a little melodramatic, but at least we can talk in those terms and not concentrate on the systems, terminologies, eight-pounds of playbook, etc. This isn't brain surgery, it's football. And if you think of football and everything you think goes into making it what it is, can you honestly say Pelini doesn't fit that or have that in abundance?
I can't. I don't.
Let's just Git 'R done