It's official. Nebraska defensive coordinator Carl Pelini has been announced as the new head coach of the Florida Atlantic Owls, replacing Howard Schnellenberger. No word on whether or not he'll be sporting suspenders and cigars as he's working the practice field.
From FAU Owl Access, Pelini will receive a five-year contract with a base salary of $450,000 with the possibility to make more with incentives such as:
- Winning the Conference Championship and receiving a BCS bowl game invitation: $50,000.00
- Winning the Conference Championship and receivinga non-BCS bowl game invitation: $20,000.00
- Receiving an at-large bowl game invitation: $10,000.00
- Earning a Top 10 final college coaches' poll national ranking $25,000.00
- Winning the National Coach of the Year Award: $25,000.00
- Winning the Conference Coach of the Year: $ 7,500.00
- Receiving a top 10% NCAA APR recognition: $10,000.00
- Receiving a top 25% NCAA APR recognition: $ 7,500.00
- Season tickets exceed 12,000: $100,000
- Season tickets exceed 18,000: $150,000
- Season tickets exceed 24,000: $200,000
All in all, it's a good move for Pelini. He steps out from Bo's shadow, he's at a program that doesn't have huge expectations, but on the other hand, doesn't have a lot of resources. Remember that FAU's first ever football game was in 2001. They moved to FBS in 2004, joined the Sun Belt in 2005 and have competed very well (2011 season aside) for a start-up. They are the fastest start-up team to win a FBS game, the fastest to be invited to a bowl game, and the first Sun Belt Conference team to win back-to-back bowl games. To date, Schnellenberger has been the program's only coach.
Mike Stoops seems to be the name that keeps popping up to replace Carl. Stoops is a known commodity, friend of Bo Pelini and knows defense. He's a great choice if you're only looking ahead for a year. Anything after that, and he's not a sound investment.
Money isn't the issue. Money doesn't buy the ego that goes with position. Stoops is going to be a head coach again, and it probably won't be that long, so why bring in a guy at a coordinator position who's only going to be around for a year, maybe two, tops?
Better that Pelini promote from within, and start building the same kind of staffs that Bill Snyder created at Kansas State - coaches who grew into their positions and were good enough at what they did that they later became head coaches.
Why go this route?
Because it sets you up in a position to bring in the best young assistants possible because they know they're going to be groomed for coordinator and head coach positions. You might ask - how is that different than bringing in an experienced guy who leaves in a couple years? The difference comes because there isn't a change in philosophy, and that's the key to consistency.
There is one potential upside to bringing Stoops in, and that's exposing your existing staff to a new set of ideas. Is that worth the instability that it brings? It might work at other programs, but not at Nebraska, where the fans will burn you in effigy if you don't win at least nine games a year.
It's saying the obvious to say that coaching has changed quite a bit since Tom Osborne kept the same staff around for decades. Those days are gone, long gone, largely because fans are so willing to want coaches fired on a week-to-week basis.
Husker fans had better get accustomed to a revolving door amongst its football coaches. The revolving door doesn't necessarily bring inconsistency, though, and that's what Bo Pelini must work out - how is he going to handle staff changes on an ongoing basis?