As we move away from spring practice and the quiet time of summer, football writers have to start manufacturing content to fill space. We're not above that either, as you'll find in the summer months here at CN. The Sporting News' Steve Greenberg started early by beginning to rank coaches. In his Big Ten rankings, Bo Pelini came in sixth on his list. Yep...sixth.
I have no issues with the first two names on Greenberg's list. Urban Meyer has two crystal footballs on his resume. He's a lock for the top spot. Following Meyer is Bret Bielema at Wisconsin; two straight Big Ten championships earn you that spot.After that, it starts getting open to interpretation. Michigan State's Mark Dantonio is third. Dantonio is 44-22 in five seasons at Michigan State. He does have two straight 11 win seasons, and took the Spartans to the Big Ten championship game last season. Following Dantonio is Michigan's Brady Hoke, who went 11-2 in his first Big Ten season. Prior to taking over in Ann Arbor, Hoke had a losing career record. He did a fine job in his only season in the Big Ten, but it's just that: one season.
And then it starts getting ridiculous. Kirk Ferentz is fifth. Greenberg is obviously putting more stock in Iowa's 11-2 record in 2009 than he is the Hawkeyes 15-11 record since. Or Ferentz's 28-22 record prior to 2009. In his last seven seasons, the Hawkeyes have been pretty good in 2009, good in 2008, and merely okay int he other five seasons.
Pelini earns downgrades for losing four games each season while at Nebraska. That doesn't make Husker fans at all happy, but his career 71% winning percentage is better than the previous three names. No Big Ten division titles, but there are two Big XII division titles on his resume. And let's be honest: there really should be two Big XII titles on Pelini's resume. If Nebraska had held onto late leads in both of those games, where would Pelini rank on this list?
My guess is third.
That's why this season is so important to rectify all those little issues that result in Nebraska losing games they have no business losing. I'm convinced that Pelini is a better head coach than many give him credit for...but the record is what it is. Nebraska lost to Northwestern in a game they shouldn't have lost last year. The year before, it was losses to Texas and Texas A&M. In 2009, it was Virginia Tech, Iowa State, and Texas Tech.
Until Nebraska starts winning those games, the Huskers and Pelini won't get the respect they should be getting. It's been 10 seasons since Nebraska last played in a BCS bowl game. Nebraska hasn't won a conference championship this century. Winning nine games a season is good, but it's not enough at a program like Nebraska. Being better than Bill Callahan only takes you so far.