In Nebraska, like pretty much every other school, there are always detractors from the head coach. Even when Osborne was coaching, people would say things like, "He's never going to win a championship. We need a guy who can get us to the next level. Blah. Blah. Blah." For Pelini, not only does he have to deal with these exceedingly unrealistic expectations, he also lives in the shadow of what many Nebraska fans considers the second coming of Christ -- Tom Osborne.
Mark "Bo" Pelini [Author's note: Only dogs are actually named "Bo" and every male from Youngstown not named Urban is named Mark, Jim or Robert by law since 1835] was a fairly popular Buckeye on some fairly unpopular Buckeye teams. Despite playing on some mediocre seven and eight-win squads that featured defenses that would not finish among the top ten of the Tressel era (this is math even you can do; Tressel had ten defenses) Pelini never seemed to quit on any given play. Not in the first quarter; not in the fourth. That overused term "flying around the ball?" That was him.
He wasn't extremely talented from a football standpoint; one of those "slow white guys" Coop famously quipped about when he arrived in Columbus - but Pelini had a Big Ten heart. In his four years at Ohio State he was a three-time selection to the Academic All-Big Ten team and he took home the Bo Rein award as a senior co-captain, which means his teammates voted him as one of their leaders as well as their most inspirational player.
WHEN THE WRITING IS ON THE WALL IN BOLD TYPE FONT..
Jim Tressel has resigned as head coach at Ohio St. Luke Fickell will serve as interim head coach for the 2011 season and a search for a new head coach will commence following the season.
Or perhaps, it would be more appropriate to say that Tressel was "resigned" by the university, according to the Columbus Dispatch who first reported the story.
Naturally, we are most concerned with how this affects the Cornhuskers, right?
1) With the program now officially in disarray status - fired coach, interim coach, impending sanctions, player suspensions, who is the new coach - how does this affect their chances in next year's matchup in Lincoln?
2) Does Bo become a target again?
The name being thrown out the most this morning is Urban Meyer, but we've a year to wait. If NU lights it up in its first tour around the Big 10, does Pelini become an option to come home and fix the Bucks with a decent rebuild job already under his belt at Nebraska?
Tom Osborne's take on the Big 10 at the spring meetings:
"You have the general feeling here that people are trying to do their best for the collective good," he said Wednesday. "There's not a lot of one-upmanship or somebody out trying to gain an advantage."
"It's a very classy conference," Pelini said. "I've enjoyed working with all the new Big Ten people. It just exudes class, and it's great to be a part of."
Translation: Suck it, Beebe. (And, Texas, too, for that matter.)
Unfortunately for Ryan, he never got the opportunity. Nor, as it turns out, did Pelini ever intend to honor his commitment.
"It was a joke, ma'am," the sour head coach barked at me in his Holiday Bowl postgame news conference.
Which, Moglia says, was exactly the fuss over telling Sean Fisher's family about the injury first.
"Bo visited Fish in the hospital that night," Moglia said. "The kid's mom thanked Bo and said, ‘I can't imagine what would have happened if I read on Twitter or saw in a press release or read it in the paper the next day something about my son that wasn't factual or I hadn't known yet.' That is tremendous reinforcement for Bo that he is holding up his promise. That's a big deal here.
"Bo really understands you have a job to do. He gets the role that Nebraska football plays in the state. And it would have been easier for Bo to open that up and tell everyone right away what was going on. But if he had done that, he would have violated that promise he made to Sean Fisher and his family.
It's a little bit like the ad for the Marines: Every Marine that goes down knows he's not going to be forgotten or lying there. Someone is going to pick him up and get him out of there.
"Every Marine knows going into the system that is going to happen. Every kid coming into this program is told that. But they know it's going to happen when they see it happen to other kids."
I'd encourage every Hokie to be in that stadium 30 minutes before kick-off.
I'd encourage every Hokie to make more noise than they've ever made at a game before.
I'd encourage every Hokie to be ready for "Enter Sandman," pound Pelini's eardrums, and show Nebraska what Lane Stadium (and the Hokie Nation) is all about.
Bo Pelini, On handing out the Blackshirts
"I haven’t decided (when I’m going to do it). I’m looking for them to be earned. There’s a chance I’m going to wait for a long time (to hand them out). That’s something that we, as a staff, will talk about. What’s a Blackshirt mean if it’s just a symbol that you haven’t earned? Isn’t that the point? I think everyone wants to rush this thing. It’s the same way as when I was here the first time. I don’t see the point to it if you just hand them out to hand them out."
Q. Is it all scheme or what is the key, the one thing that you have to do to stop those offenses, maybe one or two things?
COACH PELINI: As I said, I think you have to evaluate what the offenses are. And what they're trying to accomplish. Florida's spread offense is different than Missouri. And Missouri's is different than what Kansas is trying to do.
I think the key to playing good defense is evaluating what exactly an offense is trying to accomplish and what their strengths are and you have to develop a game plan to offset what they're trying to accomplish and take it away from them. So they have to get out of their comfort zone.
And I believe this. Defensively it's not just what you do, it's not all about scheme. You can -- everybody wants to -- every coach out there wants to have the pencil last. When you're playing on Saturday, you don't have that luxury. You're
playing, in this conference, there's a lot of good coaches and they're (players) very well coached. You're not always going to have the pencil last. It's not just what you do but how you do it. You can't just go get so wrapped up in outscheming the opponent. If you do that, you'll forget how you do it and forget about technique. Technique and fundamentals are essential.
And if you're playing very sound technique-wise and you have good fundamentals and you teach them, you have your guys understanding your scheme, you'll be able to match up and deal with any problems that offenses can associate or going to make you deal with a particular Saturday. That's something we've been able to do over a long period of time. And we'll have that challenge ahead of us here no doubt.
Hmmmmmm..... fundamentals and technique are essential. Sounds to me like if you want to successfully against the spread you'd better be able to tackle well, and that means making one-on-one tackles when the offense gets you into that situation.
If that's what we can expect from the 2008 defense, I can certainly get excited about that.