Tom Osborne said his eight-day search for a successor to Bill Callahan was based on analyzing the qualities of individual coaches and balancing them with the needs of the program.
"We need a head coach with strong defensive credentials and great leadership," Osborne said. "We were also looking for someone who can inspire confidence and get players to play with great effort. And, of course, we also wanted our new head coach to understand our traditions, including the importance of our walk-on program and the importance of football in this state."
Osborne said Bo Pelini "fit the bill in all respects."
According to Osborne, Pelini "made a significant difference when he was defensive coordinator of our (10-3) team in 2003, especially after we struggled considerably on defense the year before. I was particularly impressed with the way we beat Michigan State (17-3) in the Alamo Bowl. As interim head coach, Bo motivated the team on both sides of the ball, and we played with a great deal of passion and intensity in that game – both on defense and on offense."
In 2004, Pelini was co-defensive coordinator for an Oklahoma team that won the Big 12 championship and lost to USC in the national championship game. For the last three seasons, he has been defensive coordinator at LSU, helping the Tigers to three consecutive years of a top-three national ranking in total defense.
"It takes good coaching and good leadership to have a defense ranked either at or near the top of the national charts," Osborne said. "I thought LSU's defense played well yesterday and was important in that Southeastern Conference championship game."
Osborne acknowledged an aggressive timeframe for hiring a new coach. "We wanted to get this done as quickly as possible, so Bo can put together his new staff and concentrate on recruiting," he said. "These next two weeks are really critical to the recruiting process."