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Bo Pelini Becomes A Three Million Dollar Man

Bo Pelini has received another new contract, this time giving him a raise to $2.775 million for 2011. Annual raises of $100,000 a year will bump Pelini over $3 million a year by the time his contract is over. Bonuses are also significantly increased, per the Lincoln Journal-Star:

  • $100,000 for a share of the division title (without appearing in the Big Ten Championship game).
  • $200,000 for reaching the Big Ten championship game (up $50,000)
  • $350,000 for winning the league championship game (up $100,000).
  • $150,000 for a non-BCS bowl berth (up $50,000) or $250,000 for a BCS bowl berth.
  • $350,000 for a berth in the BCS championship game (up $200,000) or $650,000 for winning the BCS title game (up $400,000).

The cost to fire Pelini also went up; $150k a month or $1.8 million a year for the remainder of his contract, if fired without cause. That's up from $62,500 a month in his last contract.

Pelini also gets the use of a private jet for 16 hours a year for personal use.

Of course, that raises the question as to why Pelini gets this deal.

One thing is clear: if Tom Osborne and Harvey Perlman were really dissatisfied with Pelini after last season (especially the meltdown in College Station during the Texas A&M game), they have a funny way of showing it. I think it's safe to say that Nebraska wants Bo Pelini to remain at Nebraska. With this deal, Pelini becomes the third highest-paid coach in the Big Ten... at least for now. Pelini passes Wisconsin's Bret Bielema ($2.5 million) and now trails just Iowa's Kirk Ferentz ($3.7 million) and Ohio State's Jim Tressel ($4.1 million).

Tressel could also be a factor in this new contract, as Tressel's problems with the NCAA seem to keep growing as we learn more and more about the lies Tressel told the NCAA and in press conferences in recent months. Can Tressel survive this mess? History suggests no; twelve of the last thirteen coaches accused of violating this ethics bylaw either were fired or resigned. But Tressel might be above the law here; Ohio State president Gordon Gee once remarked that he hoped that Tressel "wouldn't fire me." Nevertheless, you cannot assume that Tressel will survive. Beano Cook has former Florida coach Urban Meyer as the leading candidate to replace Tressel, but if that were to fall through, there would be a natural interest in Pelini, as both one of the up-and-coming coaches in college football and an Ohio State alum.

But is Pelini worth this type of money? The CN gang grabbed a beer out of the refrigerator and discussed it.

Mike: Compared to what teachers and nurses make, of course not. But in this country, people don't earn what they are worth, people earn what people are willing to pay you. That, in a nutshell, is why CEO pay is increasing at an astronomical rate while there is a push underway to cut the pay of government workers. When you compare Pelini's pay with 99.9% of the people in this country, it doesn't rate at all. But when you compare it with other football coaches, well, it's hard to argue it's all that far out of line. Should Pelini earn more than Bret Bielema? That's tough to argue in my opinion. Should Pelini earn as much, or even more than Kirk Ferentz? That's easier to argue: Ferentz's career .597 winning percentage pales to Pelini's .714.

I'm basing my opinions on Pelini's entire performance as head coach, not focusing on the disappointing finish to 2010. In early November, Husker fans were still holding out hope for an outside shot at the national championship. But the offense disappeared after Taylor Martinez suffered an ankle injury, and the Huskers lost three disappointing games out of the last four. Do you reward Pelini for taking the program from the depths of the Bill Callahan clusterfool, or do you hold pat as retribution for the finish to last season? Considering that other schools are very much interested in Pelini (at least two schools inquired about Pelini in recent months), I think Tom Osborne had no choice but to make sure Pelini is properly compensated.

Jeff B: After the lackluster performance vs. Washington in the Holiday Bowl, giving up a 17 point lead to OU
in the Big XII Championship, the meltdown at A&M, escaping Ames in OT, geating beat by Texas, a
crappy Texas, at home, where do they come up with the idea of a big raise for Coach Bo?

I hate to steal quotes from Bart Simpson, but it appears that we have a case of the classic paradox:
"You're damned if you do, and you're damned if you don't." If Bo doesn't get the raise and bolts, it's
the end of the world. If they give the raise and the program doesn't evolve, it's also the end of the

I think that the suits in Huskerland remember one thing quite clearly, and that's the empty airplane
coming back from Arkansas. No Nutt. Not that he was offered the job anyway, but who would the
Huskers get now to fill Pelini's shoes if he left?

I haven't been stalking the other coaches in consideration for the job at the same time Pelini was
interviewing, but none of the other candidates seem to be lighting the coaching world on fire.

New conference, new staff members, but do we have a "new" Pelini? If he wins it's the best money
spent. If the Huskers can't hold onto the football, keep being their own worst enemy, can't get up
for the big games, etc., it's just more wasted money as the fans look forward more to seeing new
conference opponents visit Lincoln or the progress on the stadium expansion, than they do in
watching their own team.

JLew: Wow defensive coordinators are making a lot these days.... Oh wait he's a head coach now....

Bo has done a heck of a job with the defense, and developing talent that was wasting away, see, Suh, Prince, Asante, Turner, Allen, Dillard et al., But other than getting Nebraska "Back" (AHHHHHHH there's that word again), if back means competing for but not winning Big 12 Championships, Bo hasn't done a heck of a lot.

So why are we worried about Bo departing again? Is he really that hot of a coaching commodity? Do our fans think that because we are Nebraska (and not Penn State, we know you guys, you don't have to keep telling us, really) Bo must be a great coach?, Or is it because Nebraska would not be able to bring anyone else in near Bo's talent? Look at Michigan and their last coaching search; not exactly plan A. What would Nebraska do if Bo were to leave? Who could they bring in?

So maybe we are paying the cost for continuity, paying the price for comfort, but this is a decision isn't going to be judged today, but rather through the rear view mirror. This will be a very telling year. New conference, new OC, help for the O-Line (don't get me started) and a whole host of other changes on the staff. This could be a savvy business move, or yet another example of throwing money at passing dreams by a team trying to break through.

Matt: Any time Ferentz's salary is mentioned, I have to laugh. My opinion on that went along the lines of how Iowa fans are desperate to have a relevant football team. Think Missouri but with brighter yellow on their unis.

However, if you think about it, what has Pelini really done? How is he any different than Ferentz? People will say Bo "resurrected" Nebraska football. Really? Has he done that just yet? At least Ferentz has made it to a couple of BCS games. Not so for Pelini....yet. Almost $3M a year for some mid to upper level non-BCS bowls and Top 15, 20 finishes at the end of the year? I give that a resounding "meh". At best, Nebraska is banking on the fact that he will take the Huskers back to what their fans all crave: National Relevance.

The Big Boys are earning that kind of bank because they have built programs that, year in and year out, are part of the College Football Elite. As much as it pains me to say it, Nebraska is not part of that group. We'd like to think we are, but we're not. Right now, we're South Carolina, Texas A&M, and (gulp!) Iowa...with hopefully more potential.

As you can tell, not both cheeks are on the Pelini bandwagon. I'm close, but I have jumped on the whole way.

Jon: This is certainly a timely topic for me personally. My oldest son was set to attend Nebraska until a couple weeks ago when the $5M budget cut included the program he planned to go into. Now he's not sure what he's going to do - whether he'll be attending Nebraska or not.

Is that Bo Pelini's fault? No, it's not. As Nebraskans are always proud of pointing out, the athletic department doesn't depend on state taxpayers for funding. Does it represent misplaced priorities? You're damned right it does. It's flat out idiotic that a college football coach is being paid $2.7M per year, regardless of the amount of money the program brings in.

Before you jump on that and start defending Pelini, remember that as fans who purchase season tickets (along with "donations" to ensure decent seats), or Husker paraphernalia that his salary is coming out of your pocket. If you spent any time last season complaining about the cost of enjoying Husker football - then why would you be ecstatic about Pelini's raise?

Pelini has done a pretty decent job in his first couple years in the program. He has yet to prove he understands how to build a complete team, and we'll see how his offensive reorganization goes this coming season.

Pelini gets a salary boost for what he's done so far, and his ego will be pleased that he's one of he higher paid coaches in the Big Ten. But only at Iowa would they pay a guy to be as unsuccessful as Kirk Ferentz has been over the years. Pelini's bar has been raised. If he wins enough games, he's worth it. If he doesn't, he can get the hell out of Lincoln just like Bill Callahan did. It ain't about the money, coach. It's about my ego, too.

So what's your take?