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The Bo Pelini Coaching Rumor Denial Game

Tell me if you've heard this one before. Somebody writes an article that suggests Bo Pelini could be a candidate for an open coaching position, some people swallow the story whole, and Pelini issues a denial of the whole thing. And when all is said and done...Pelini's still the head coach at the University of Nebraska. Last year, it was Miami-Florida. Earlier this month, it was Ohio State. This week: Penn State.

Monday, David Jones of the Harrisburg Patriot-News reported via Twitter that Pelini "talked to people at Penn State", according to his sources. Tuesday, Ron Musselman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette took the story one step further by reporting that Pelini "was interviewed last week in Texas by (interim PSU athletic director Dave) Joyner." Pelini immediately denied both reports, calling the Musselman report "irresponsible."

So who do you want to believe? Maybe it comes down to what you want to believe. Sports talk hosts chose to believe it (at least on the air) since it makes for a juicy topic for talk radio. But does it make sense for Pelini to leave Nebraska? Serious questions exist at all three programs; one would have to believe that Bo Pelini was incredibly unhappy at Nebraska to leave.

Miami has long had issues with the NCAA, and Ohio State just got nailed with scholarship reductions and a bowl bad. And Penn State is even worse as even Musselman calls the Penn State situation "toxic". The rumors frankly do not pass the smell test... yet some people keep taking the bait every time someone goes trolling. Sportswriters are only as good as their sources, and if a source embellishes a story, the story isn't good.

I've long dismissed the Miami and Ohio State reports, as Pelini "talking" doesn't mean much of anything. Take the following inquiry to either Pelini himself or a representative of Pelini: "Any interest?" Is that talking? Yep. But if Pelini (or his representative) says "No" or "Thanks but no thanks."...that's still talking, but it's not showing any interest by Pelini. And that's what Pelini was being criticized for. Was their any evidence that Pelini pursued the job? None that I've seen, heard, or read.

Tuesday's report that Pelini "interviewed" in Texas is a little more concerning...but this report was denied on both ends. Penn State spokesman Jeff Nelson pointed out that Joyner hasn't been to Texas since December 8th, and that was for preparations for the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas. So did Musselman get a bad report, or did one of his sources embellish a "conversation" and turn a brief conversation into an "interview?" Maybe it was an "interview' like the one that Armen Keteyian obtained from Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary.

Husker fans aren't used to our coaches being pursued from outside. Tom Osborne had a few inquiries here and there. Frank Solich spent so much time at Nebraska as a player and coach that nobody ever bothered to pursue him. Bill Callahan was so awful as head coach that nobody (not named Steve Pederson) ever considered hiring him.

And it's not like Pelini is the only guy who gets these types of rumors. Kirk Ferentz periodically gets his name thrown out there, even without a resume like Bo Pelini's. Bob Stoops is perennially linked to every job opening it seems. (Just Google "Bob Stoops Rumors" and you'll find him signed, sealed, and delivered to Notre Dame, Florida, Southern Cal, and several NFL teams.) And yet, they're still at the same job they've had for years.

Tom Osborne sums it up when he says that it's not a surprise why Pelini's name keeps coming up:

"I think a lot of people around the country see him as a very viable candidate."

My take on this is that it's going to take more than "talking" and an unsubstantiated report that Pelini "interviewed" before I'll believe that Pelini is planning to leave. Osborne says that he and Pelini talk frequently, and Osborne believes Pelini and his family are happy here. That vibe would have to change if Pelini were to consider leaving.

There will be more noise if Pelini were really planning to leave; more grumblings, more sources. If the media isn't going to take a skeptical view and double/triple check their sources before running with a story, then it's up to fans to do it. Wait for more sources to validate these stories before jumping on the rumor of the day.