At face value to an outsider, it seems somewhat ridiculous. A head coach who has won or shared three division titles in four season, narrowly lost two conference championship games, and won nine or more games in each of his four seasons being on the hot seat? Well, maybe not a "hot seat"...but it's definitely warming up. SBNation's Bill Connelly asks it point blank when he asks if merely being "good isn't good enough" at Nebraska. Tom Osborne's final five seasons set the bar high at Nebraska, and while nobody honestly expects anybody to ever go 60-3 over a five year period again, Husker fans are hungry for just a taste of that type of glory.
Forget "five national championships". Nebraska hasn't won a conference championship since 1999. No BCS bowl games since 2001. Close in 2009 and 2010 doesn't count to some fans, and if anything, made it worse. Nebraska got to the 2009 Big XII championship game purely on the strength of Ndamukong Suh, a player that will go into history as one of the greatest players ever to play at Nebraska. 2010 was more of a team effort, but the second half meltdown with a gimpy freshman quarterback is something that some fans will never get over.
Connelly looks at the recruiting rankings, sees the upcoming dominance of Michigan, Ohio State, and the SEC, and sees something that looks an awful lot like mediocrity for Nebraska in the future. I understand that talk, and remember it was this same talk that brought Bill Callahan to Lincoln in 2004. His teams looked better on signing day than on game day, and two losing seasons in four years was too much for even the most die-hard recruitnik to swallow. Could Nebraska make that same mistake again?
Steven M. Sipple of the Lincoln Journal-Star puts it in perspective. The seat is warming, but Pelini has done a good job to date. Nebraska fans want more from Pelini, but Pelini's boss has his back. A lot of good things have happened to the program under Pelini, but it's time for the program to be more consistent and make that jump to the next level.
He points to Dennis Dodd's "Hot Seat" rankings, which places Pelini at 2.5 for 2012, up from 0.5 last season. 2.5 is "safe, but you never know." He shares that ranking with coaches like Mack Brown and Mark Richt. (Not to mention his brother Carl at Florida Atlantic.) It's better than Chip Kelly, who's surprisingly at 3.0 at Oregon. Heck, Les Miles is at 2.0.
Pelini isn't in much danger of being dismissed at this point, but Nebraska fans are growing more and more restless to get back into the top ten and the national spotlight. Excuses only go so far, and it's time for Nebraska football to jump to that next level.