This morning, a co-worker mentioned an article he'd read in the Omaha World-Herald. He's not a Husker fan; he's a St. Louis guy who moved to town a few years ago. But he was incredulous as to what he was reading about Nebraska football; yes, they got beat down badly by Wisconsin, but they won ten games. That one game massive failure doesn't make the season a complete failure Where's the perspective?
I hadn't read the article in question, but I took a wild guess at the author. Sure enough, it was Dirk Chatelain. OK, that's not a wild guess. Anybody who follows Nebraska football knows about the relationship between Chatelain and Pelini. But now I had to go and do something I try to avoid as much as possible: read Chatelain. And yes, one could make a very strong case that I have a vendetta against Chatelain; hence, that's why I avoid his work as much as possible. But suddenly, I'm pulled in again.
Ever since Chatelain failed to get Pelini to admit that his program was in disarray in Indianapolis, it seems that Chatelain has been trying to build the case that Pelini's a failure. Last week, he took to Twitter to ask fans whether they would hire Pelini today, knowing that he'd win nine or ten games every season but never win a conference title. The majority said yes; Chatelain said no. Of course, he's quick to admit that he wouldn't fire Pelini either, but rather place in him some sort of unhirable/unfirable purgatory. The question is interesting, but not terribly realistic. Nobody can predict or guarantee what kind of success someone would have, and more importantly, anybody who's ever been in a hiring situation knows that you almost never select an applicant with a yes or no vote.
No, you are interviewing and reviewing multiple candidates, and comparing their responses. You do your research, ask your questions, and then compare the results to determine which candidate gets the job. So if you are going to ask this question of Pelini, you ask that same question of Paul Johnson, Jim Grobe, and Turner Gill.
And when you look at the candidates for the Nebraska opening in 2007, the answer is even more solid that Pelini was and still is the right candidate. If not Pelini, then Nebraska needed to go back to the applicant pool and make the job more desirable. Offer a starting wage in 2008 that is comparable to what Pelini is making today for starters.
But a thumbs up/down question on Pelini in 2007? That's a pretty silly question.
Then yesterday, Chatelain wrote his article comparing other coaches records in their first few years. Obviously, coaches like Bob Stoops and Jim Tressel look much more favorably as compared to Bo Pelini's record. But then there are some weird comparisons. Pete Carroll had been an NFL head coach previously. Urban Meyer had been a head coach at Bowling Green and Utah before landing at Florida. And he quickly tosses away names like Mack Brown, Les Miles, and Nick Saban. Coaches that don't fit his theory are excluded from his study, and it becomes yet another muddled mess of an analogy that somehow proves that Pelini won't ever make it as a head coach.
Nobody is going to suggest that Pelini deserves a huge raise and a contract extension. And even Chatelain admits that these were futile exercises:
"Terminating him after a 10-3 season is absurd. It destabilizes the program. It hurts the pocketbook. And it turns off attractive candidates. Just ask Steve Pederson. Nebraska must stand by Bo, give him the resources he needs and hope he makes the necessary changes."
Note the last statement. Making the necessary changes. That's a much better exercise to go through. His counterpart, Sam McKewon, did just that last week. It's a much better read. Identify the issues in the program, suggest solutions and determine where next.
Chatelain is still obviously smarting over the beatdown he received over last year's Taylor Martinez criticism. There is no love lost between Chatelain and Pelini, and Chatelain is obviously enjoying putting Pelini under the microscope. And Pelini should be evaluated; he's not immune to criticism. But that's not what Chatelain is doing here; Chatelain is making the case as to why Pelini is the wrong guy to be the head coach at Nebraska.
And that's a shame for Chatelain to waste his talent with spreadsheets and bad conclusions. He really is a talented feature writer. People loved the article he wrote last month about the "boot camp" the Huskers endured last April, and his article about how Ameer Abdullah and Ron Brown work together was top notch as well. He writes far too little of those, and way too much bilge like his discussion of turnovers in the post-Callahan era where he summarizes the Shawn Watson and Tim Beck eras together to draw a conclusion.