Bo Pelini: Heals sick, raises dead

Hey, I heard this story about Bo Pelini. Yeah, evidently, he's yelling at the players for slacking off, getting on them about not sticking to the agenda of their workouts and all around, hanging all over them every second of every day, making sure these guys realize or try to remind them what it takes to get back to where they were. Yeah, that's some story. Sounds like Bo Pelini is really doing something. Oh, wait. It sounds like he is doing his job.

By the very fact that Bo Pelini was the one non-"Nebraska guy" that Solich hired, you could say he was brought on either out of desperation or because he was just that good. Well, desperation is hardly the description behind the mind-set behind getting Bo Pelini from the Packers. He's just that good.

Ok, that's water under the bridge though. Let's stop gushing over his NFL pedigree. Let's stop hypothesizing what someone so intense can do for the NU defense that has gone awry. Let's stop treating Bo Pelini like he's the second coming, because he isn't. He's a coach here to do a job and that's just what he is doing.

I would bet you just about anything that Bo Pelini himself wouldn't laud his persona as anything special. I would wager that Bo Pelini wouldn't consider his style so unique. It's not. The DC that was replaced by the guy that Pelini was replacing did just what Bo is doing now.

Charlie McBride's temper was infamous if not notorious, but where he succeeded was in taking a direction with his tirades rather than go on them just to yell and ramble on.

I remember David Kolowski tell me a story of how Charlie McBride once chewed him out for five minutes straight, never uttering the same cuss word twice. He laughed about it as he told me, but knew that there was a reason behind this "outburst" if you will. It was for a reason. Actually, a couple.

One, it let you know real fast that what you were doing wasn't acceptable and because of the delivery of this little speech, you weren't likely to let it happen again. Second, it put into your head real fast, that this game isn't about doing anything halfway and if he's going to take the time to raise his voice and give you the business, boy, you are getting the business.

Bo Pelini is simply bringing that back, but because it hasn't been around since McBride and because the supporting staff hasn't been as youthfully aggressive as well to compliment Pelini's intensity, well, this all just seems like some miracle from the heavens and everyone thinks that every butt-chewing is just so darn "neat".

It's kind of funny though how much we as fans have forgot about what it does take to be successful at this game. The Wistrom and Peter intensity that is talked about in almost a "mythical" tone. The McBride butt-chewings and "glare" that seem as if we are thinking back to an era long ago, rather than one not even a half-decade before. That's how bad it has gotten. So bad, that even the fans that talk about how things were done, what players did that they aren't doing now, even they forgot so much about what it took to be successful, they are surprised when someone bent on success arrives and does things to help put the intensity back where it belongs.

Players are throwing up, guys are working their butts off and people are really getting after it. And? What's the big deal here?

The big deal is, this isn't what the players have been used to and that's the saddest thing of all. I tell you what. When I read the quote about how Pelini's initial statements were received with some trepidation by players, I tell you that is when I wanted to throw up. Guys afraid of working hard? Players hesitant or reluctant to be truly intense? I couldn't believe it. I was as disappointed as I was shocked.

Look at last year though and your shock quickly fades away. All year long, the team was questioned for everything from their speed to their desire to win games. Article after article, chiding their "heart" and lambasting the fact that nobody was where they were supposed to be. One week, it was the coaches' fault, the next, the players. And, so on and so forth, most of the entire season.

The Blackshirts and a lack of heart, well, that's supposed to be a contradiction in terms. That's not supposed to be possible. Sure, they had gotten beaten before, but never did anyone for a second think they actually gave up. This last year however, that came up an alarming amount of times, thus fueling the blame for players, but for the coaches that let the players get like that in the first place.

With all the new faces on defense, you have injected not only quality personnel, but some fiery personalities as well, lead by the most intense of them all, Bo Pelini. Players from the Packers even on the offensive side of the ball could comment on just how much this guy went after it and he's going after it again.

What Bo Pelini isn't doing though is creating a pulse where there was none. He isn't parting the red sea and feeding thousands of people with one basket of fish and a loaf of bread. He's doing what he was hired and expected to do.

I am all for the excitement his mentality brings to the Husker defense. I am all for his brand of getting things done. And yes, I am excited that some people were brought in on defense that were equally excited about what they had to do.

I'm not giving credit where it isn't quite due though, because Bo Pelini may be chewing some butt here and there, guys may be puking all over themselves, because they have finally had to work their tail off and like it. But, trophies are given out for success at the end of the journey and this, well, this is just a good start.

Bo Pelini may end up being the best hire coach Solich made and he's got the reputation and experience to back that up. Again though and I think Pelini himself would say this, he's not doing anything special, it's only special because it wasn't done by the staff that he and his colleagues replaced.

Let's give Pelini credit for bringing back to NU something it had once before, but let's not give him credit for doing something that even he probably think isn't anything special. He's just doing his job.

Steve Ryan can be reached at or 402-730-5619

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