Is Bo Pelini Going to Be Fired by Nebraska?

Hey, Bo doesn't hate all referees - Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

The short answer: I don't know.

It's been the talk of the college football world since the conclusion of the Minnesota game after bunch of speculation following the UCLA game.

I do believe this: only two people - maybe three - have a good idea what the future of Bo Pelini's career at Nebraska looks like. And those people aren't going to talk about this now.

Sure, you've probably heard something far more definitive. I've heard it too. But pardon me if I show some skepticism. Some of these same sources have made previous claims that didn't pan out over time. The old adage is that a broken grandfather clock is still right twice a day, but in this case, I'm not even sure these sources can meet that standard. ("Mickey Mouse says it's thirteen o'clock...Well that's quite a shock!") Remember ten years ago when people swore that Bob Davie had bought a house in Lincoln, and was having cable installed? Turns out that it wasn't the former Notre Dame head coach preparing to take over the Huskers, but some other guy...

Lee Barfknecht of the World-Herald had a nice article about how Pelini's seat is warming up, and that for those fans who want Pelini gone now, they'll simply have to wait. The only way a head football coach gets fired mid-season is if there are major rules violations (NCAA or legal, such as Carl Pelini at Florida Atlantic) or if the situation has become toxic, such as Lane Kiffin at Southern Cal.

The most likely scenario is that nothing will happen until Thanksgiving. But then what?

First a disclosure of my bias: I don't think Bo Pelini should be fired.

Why not? Bo Pelini is in his sixth season as a head coach. He's coached his team to three conference championship games in five years, and shared a division title in a fourth season. Since Pelini took over in 2008, Nebraska is one of only four schools to win nine games every season. The others are Alabama, Boise State, and Oregon.

I'm not as confident in truly grasping the reasons why people want Pelini fired. Going 0-3 in conference championship games, while not anything to be excited about, certainly shouldn't be a firable offense, and I don't think that's really the case people are making. Is it the blowouts? 48-17 to Wisconsin, 63-38 to Ohio State, and 70-31 to Wisconsin are embarrassing. Humiliating, in fact.

I get that. A 47-0 loss to Oklahoma resulted in a state-wide petition drive to fire Bob Devaney in 1968. The reaction to a 38-7 loss to Oklahoma in 1977 led one NU regent to tell Tom Osborne that he could have been fired if he hadn't won the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl. So it's not unprecedented to have Husker fans so riled up. And it's probably not unique to Husker fans. Arkansas fans got tired of Lou Holtz, and he was dismissed after six winning seasons. Heck, even Oklahoma fans aren't all that enamored with Bob Stoops anymore.

Bo Pelini's temper hasn't won him many friends. His outbursts have alienated referees and some fans. Media, too. That two year old recording of Bo Pelini swearing at Husker fans is considered the final straw in the eyes of detractors, but frankly, I don't think that recording changed many fans' opinion of Pelini. Haters still hate, while many "Pelini Believers" recognize they said the same thing as Pelini after that Ohio State game.

In the end, it's less important what fans think about Bo Pelini and more important what Shawn Eichorst and Harvey Perlman think. I suspect that Perlman isn't a terribly strong proponent of the coach. Eichorst is unknown quantity. Anybody who claims to know what Eichorst is thinking is almost certainly either guessing or lying; he purposely stays in the background and simply isn't saying anything.

Can Nebraska afford a new coach? Most definitely. With a 90,000 seat stadium and on the verge of cashing in on the Big Ten's next television contract, the money is there. Could Nebraska find another coach? Yes...even Steve Pederson eventually found a coach. It's more of a question as to whether Nebraska could hire a better coach than Pelini. (Let's not forget that Pelini's 71% winning percentage exceeds Nick Saban's 62% winning percentage in his first six years as a head coach.)

I suspect that the final decision will be based on whether Eichorst feels that Pelini has a handle on Nebraska's defensive issues in recent years. Does Eichorst feel it's a coaching issue that's still festering - or maybe becoming worse? Or does he feel it's a talent issue, that's already starting to work itself out with the youth movement on defense.

Most Husker fans have their opinions on this matter, and for many, their mind is already made up. How much of an effect can the month of November have on the perception of Bo Pelini? Would a 5-0 record put the hot seat talk on ice? Would a 3-2 record make it even hotter? And what if the Huskers finish even worse?

Let's not go there.

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