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Nebraska's Bo Pelini Announces His Staff

Bo Pelini officially announced most of his coaching staff yesterday. Lots of commentary available - Husker Mike points out the world "potential", Jeffie at DXP sounds unimpressed, Darren at Big Red Network is upbeat, Sam McKewon has a rundown, while Husker Extra has access..

[Update - Midwest Coast Bias provides grades.]

Not wanting to be left out of incessant googling, I've got to have my say. One thing about this staff - there is a good lot of experience. It may not all be at the big, high-falutin' Division IA level, but everyone has been some kind of head coach or coordinator at some level. All of them except the two young 'uns coaching linebackers and defensive ends, but they're surrounded by a gob of defensive experience, including the Bo-man hisself.

Don't get caught up in titles with this staff. There's no special teams coach. There's an associate head coach, an assistant head coach, and six defensive coordinators. A running backs coach is yet to be named.

This is the anti-Callahan cast of coaches. There's so much Nebraska in this staff that if they fail, the state will fall into a giant sinkhole and become an inland sea. That'll be appropriate - if you happen to take a look around at our opponents' message boards, you'll see a lot of snickering about how hiring coaches with Nebraska ties make us a laughingstock. Silly us - I guess we should have thrown gobs of money at someone with a better agent.


  • Barney Cotton: Associate head coach/offensive line

Ask an Iowa State fan about Barney Cotton's offense and they'll turn their head toward the sky in silent prayer. He couldn't made a third and short to save his life. It's nothing different than other coaches at ISU though, so don't hold it against him. Dan McCarney hired him at ISU after he was fired at Nebraska. After McCarney was fired, he didn't coach last season. Cotton carries a lot of baggage because of McCarney and Solich, both of whom were fired with him on staff. I'm not 100% sure why people might hold McCarney's firing against him - it's not like ISU is a powerhouse without either of them around.

Cotton has experience all over him. He's been around different offenses, he's coached offensive line, he's been everything but a head coach. So why the angst?

  • Shawn Watson: Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks

I told you this guy would be sticking around. It's the hair. Don't discount the hair, dudes. Most mothers of the kids this guy is recruiting are going to be thinking the same thing - look at that hair. That smile.

Callahan's offense wasn't a problem, although too complex. He'll make the new offense go, and all the while look damn good doing it.

We'll have to wait for the spring game to know what the offense will look like, and I expect it won't change that much from last year. One big benefit of Shawn Watson over Callahan - Callahan was so stuck on his offense that he couldn't change much. Watson can evolve as the team evolves, probably towards a more run-oriented offense as the defense improves.

  • Ted Gilmore: Assistant Head Coach/Wide Receivers/Recruiting Coordinator

According to Wikipedia's entry on professors, 'assistant' is officially a lower position than 'associate' so you can stop wondering about that.

We kept Bill Callahan's receivers coach? Well, duh. If there's one area that constantly shined (shone?) under Callahan, it was the receiving corps. I like Gilmore. I don't even know why. Oh, maybe it's the success he's had.

  • Ron Brown: Tight ends/Spiritual leader

Ron Brown hasn't coached for years. He was a receivers coach for 17 years under Osborne - as the media release put it "Husker receivers were known for their tenacity and downfield blocking".

Let's get real. Brown wasn't hired because he's a great coach.  He was hired because last year's team was lost and someone needs to find them. Remember that Brown was turned down at Stanford a few years ago because he was too religious? Stupid move by Stanford, they're still lost. It'll be Brown's job to be a spiritual leader  for this team as much as it will to coach tight ends. That job couldn't be taken on by a better guy.


None of Callahan's defensive staff were retained on defense with Pelini performing a Cosgrovectomy (clever, aren't I?).  Everyone but Papuchis gets to be a defensive coordinator sooner or later.

  • Carl Pelini: Defensive coordinator/defensive line coach

Former defensive line coach at Ohio under Frank Solich and his hire at Nebraska should appease the Solichista's. Former defensive coordinator at Division II Mankato State, known by most people as "Minnesota State". More on that under Jeff Jamrog's bio.

Older brother Carl gets an upgrade in his title, gets to come to a big-name program, gets to work for his brother and gets the toughest job of everyone - trying to make a defensive line work that was one of the worst in the nation last year.

If the upgrade in the title and the fact that Bo hired his brother bothers you, I'd like you to leave a comment answering the question - "Would you enjoy working for your younger brother in a boiling room?"

Family holiday dinners will never be the same for the Pelini family.

  • Mike Ekeler: Linebackers coach

Originally from Blair, but played for (that asshole, Bo Pelini's words, not mine) Bill Snyder at Kansas State. Spent last season as assistant strength coach at LSU, with the Husker media release listing him as an intern. This year he'll get paid. That's a good thing, being paid.

  • John Papuchis: Defensive ends coach

29-years old, the greenest guy on the staff. His job at the defensive meetings will be to shut up and take notes. Started at LSU under Saban so he's probably used to getting screamed at, and can tell the players and recruits stories about what a sonofabitch that Saban really is. That's where Papuchis will be best utilized - recruiting.

He didn't play for Nebraska. He's not from Nebraska. I don't see anything to do with Nebraska in the press release, but he did work at Kansas, so he's got the Big 12 experience. That and maybe he's learned to make some damned good gumbo. Everyone needs one of those guys.

  • Marvin Sanders: Secondary coach

Chicago Cubs fan. Formerly a defensive coordinator at North Carolina, played football at Nebraska and coached in 2003 along with Pelini and Solich, so another hire for the Solichista's.

People love Marvin Sanders. Was it his playing days at Nebraska, or his defensive secondary in 2003. His main job will be to break up fights between the Pelini brothers.

  • Jeff Jamrog: Assistant Athletic Director for Football Operations

Coached at Mankato State the last few years.  I don't like Mankato, about 20 years ago I got hit by a drunk driver there and it's left me with a permanently fussy lower back. I won't hold Mankato against Jamrog, just like you shouldn't hold his record at Mankato against him. If the kids at Mankato stopped drinking long enough to listen to coaching and try playing football they wouldn't suck so bad, but that ain't ever going to happen.

As I've lived only 60 miles from Mankato the past 20 years, I can tell you that Jamrog's communication skills will need to improve in order for him to be successful at this position.

His head coaching experience will give him insight into what it takes to work with all them. His toughness means he won't take much crap. And getting out of Mankato will give him motivation - like someone gave you a free ticket out of hell.

Running Backs Coach

No need to scan the 235 teams involved in bowl games for the potential running backs coach. Putting my multiple personalities into a full internal conflict, I already know who will be named:

That's the dude we want. The Oregon Ducks mascot. Kicking ass, putting up with nuttin'.

I haven't been posting much lately. It's not because there aren't things to talk about - I had planned on doing a lot more with bowl games, and some nonsensical posts I was going to do before Christmas have gone by the wayside. I'm struggling mightily with something, not sure what yet, but it's sapping any extra energy I've had and making it difficult through my regular day job with a lot of gusto.