I'm not sure many people in the media really thought Arkansas would fire Bobby Petrino. Oh sure, there were plenty of reasons why, but there's also a 21-5 record the last two years. And in the SEC, winning is what matters. So when Jeff Long shocked the sports world by announcing that there are some things that won't be tolerated in the SEC, the media had to start speculating quickly about who Arkansas would hire. Pete Thamel of the New York Times started by naming names: Iowa State's Paul Rhoads, Baylor's Art Briles, and TCU's Gary Patterson all made sense. So does former Arkansas assistant and new Arkansas State head coach Gus Malzahn.
And then Bo Pelini.
Why Bo Pelini? Well, Pelini has a track record of nine-win seasons at Nebraska. A cheap buyout package from Nebraska. And a reputation for defense which any school who could use an upgrade on that side of the ball, as Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald points out.But is Pelini a serious candidate? SB Nation's Arkansas Expats blog doesn't list Pelini on their initial list. My guess is that it's a reach by a New York Times reporter who just started naming names off the top of his head. And of course, the lazy Omaha media just accepts the story and runs with it.
Would Arkansas consider Pelini? Probably. Would they contact Pelini? Possibly. Would Pelini have interest? I doubt it.
Arkansas has a senior quarterback in Tyler Wilson who's getting some talk as a Heisman candidate, and eight starters back on defense. They get Alabama and LSU at home this upcoming season, so they have a shot to make a move in 2012. But that's the rub...after this season, Wilson is gone, but Alabama and LSU remain every year. If you think you can break through to win a national title, you can do it in the SEC...but you have to break through the SEC to do it. Alabama and LSU ain't going away anytime soon.
I have to believe that Pelini generally likes it at Nebraska; he's been here longer than just about everywhere else he's been. I think he likes what he's built at Nebraska, and wants to take the next step here. I don't believe Arkansas is the job that pulls Pelini away.
It's all speculation at this point...much like the talk of Miami, Penn State, and Ohio State was mostly speculation. A few people insist that Pelini actually interviewed for those jobs, but provide absolutely no evidence in support. Not even Bob Davie's Cable Guy vouches for any of those rumors. So is it possible? Yeah. Am I worried about it? Nope.
This rumor doesn't even rate DefCon 1 as far as an alert level.
Besides, haven't we played this game before?