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Bo Pelini As Nebraska HC In 2014: Should He Stay Or Go?

After the Iowa loss and the post game press conference, the CN staff did a quick roundtable on whether Bo Pelini should be the Head Football Coach at Nebraska anymore.

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Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Hopefully, by the time we’re all done, this won’t be passé, but we here at CN find ourselves divided about the decision the administration should make regarding Coach Pelini.  We decided we’d hash it out on here.

James: Go.

Six years of Pelini, four losses per year (Tom Osborne had zero), no conference championships, no real signature victories, a middling record against teams that are good (0-4 against 8 win+ teams this season). From his questionable coaching decisions (from Ross Els, who shouldn’t be coaching at any BCS school, to Barney Cotton still being on staff, to former-GA John Papuchis being defensive coordinator), to his lack of recruiting effort (this year’s class looks particularly abysmal), Bo wasn’t the man for Nebraska.

For a defensive head coach to be unable to stop high-powered spread offenses, or big smash mouth teams, it’s clear his units can only stop sub-par offenses. Wins against 5-6 Wyoming (too close), 0-11 Southern Miss, FCS South Dakota State, 4-7 Illinois, 1-10 Purdue, 4-7 Northwestern, the worst and soon to be 7-5 Michigan team ever, and a soon to be 6-6 sanction devastated Penn State, isn’t cutting it.

Honestly, if that Hail Mary falls incomplete, we aren’t even debating this at this point.

David: Go.

Honestly, l’d like to see what he could do with this young group of defenders, but it’s done.  He knows it, we all can see it and he gives the impression he is tired of all that goes along with being the Head Coach at Nebraska.  This program has no identity and it needs one.  The personality and temperament of the coach and team jumps and varies from week to week.  There’s nothing steady about this team or program, good or bad.

It probably wasn’t fair to Bo to have his first job at a place like Nebraska and he was dealt some difficult cards, but Nebraska fans have a standard, right or wrong they hold their leaders to and leaders are always held to a higher standard.  The lack of experience at the top is evident and its time to fix it.  Players and coaches seem to think the fans are against them.  That’s the furthest thing from the truth.  Fans want desperately for this program to get healthy. But they don’t like to be embarassed.  They want a team and program they can be proud of and right now, they don’t have that.

Ty: Stay!

I realize, fully, that this team did not live up to the expectations we had for them at the beginning of the season.  I’m pretty sure that T-Magic’s absence has been seriously downplayed in this.  A healthy Taylor was a HUGE weapon for us.  In his stead, we had a freshman who wasn’t really ready, and a senior was was not material to be the primary.

My biggest concern is that he might be the best we can get right now.  I’m not a fan of the coaches, however, I’m a fan of the players, and I think he’s in their best interest right now.  I think there is a coordinator or two who needs to go, but I think Coach Bo should stay. However, Bo is loyal to a point of a fault (Barney Cotton) and that might be his downfall.

All of that being said, I’m in favor of whatever gives the players the best chance of being successful.  From what I can see, that’s Bo right now.  If there’s a coach available who can do that better, then I want that person.  I’m not nearly as Pro-Bo as I was earlier this season, but that’s more to do with growing tired of the nonsense and focus on the coaches as opposed to where it should be, the players.

The defense improved dramatically this year.  You hear a lot less about Papuchis than you did around, say, South Dakota State.  The age and inexperience of this team has to be considered.

Honestly, I’m kind of rooting for the resignation.  It’d be in his best interest.

Cheeseandcorn: Stay.

I’m not as emphatic about this opinion as I was even a day or two ago. If Bo is fired this weekend, I won’t be happy about it, but I’ll understand. A lot of my ambivalence has to do with what I saw today - we saw more of the distinct problems that have plagued the Pelini era than in any other game of his tenure except perhaps 2010 Texas A&M: Boneheaded penalties, Pelini losing his cool, awful turnovers, head scratching playcalls, offensive ineptitude at terrible times, and generally, epic sound and fury giving way to numbness as the game gets out of hand. It was the most Pelini game ever.

So my vote in favor of keeping Pelini is not so much because I believe he’s the right coach (he probably isn’t), but because I value stability and because I am extremely pessimistic that the Huskers will find a better coach this offseason. Husker fans have vastly overestimated the desirability of Nebraska as a job destination - it has that rare, toxic combination of extremely high expectations and severe geographic/recruiting limitations. We think we can paper over that with great facilities and fan support and tradition (which are great!) but we can’t. I’m just not confident that Nebraska can get a better coach than the one they’re replacing this year (especially with much bigger heavyweights in the coaching market). The question you have to ask yourself if you want Bo fired is, "Would I prefer 6-6 or 7-5 the next couple of years to keeping Pelini during that time?" Because if you fire Bo, there’s a good chance that’s what you’ll get. Transitions are messy. And I’d prefer the bizarrely erratic stability of Bo Pelini football to the self-detonation that a new coach could very well be right now.

Salt Creek: Drop.

Let’s drop football and become a basketball school. You never hear about this drama at a basketball school.

Okay, that’s not a viable option. But the situation right now is incredibly toxic. Make no mistake, non-Nebraska fans: this is not so cut and dry as a nine win standard. The fan angst goes far beyond that, from fans who don’t like Pelini as a representative of the program to fans who don’t like his personnel decisions to fans who don’t like his game-planning to fans covering all of the above. It is an incredibly unfair to generalize this as Nebraska fans being caught in the 1990s. For some, yes, they expect impossible standards. But for the most part, it’s merely a lack of connection or belief in the direction of the program. While the disconnect isn’t nearly as great as the Callahan years, Pelini’s hot-and-cold program has simply broken the last straw in some fans’ backs.

In my opinion, I’m not sure it’s possible to bring Pelini back nor would I think Pelini really wants to come back to coach under these conditions. If the only way to get the conversation back to the team and players and their potential and contributions, maybe the best way to go forward is for a separation of coach and state.

But the next coach better hope he is better than Pelini. Because otherwise, this is just going to get worse. And eventually, this program won’t be able to be resuscitated. And contrary to what you may think, that’s not exactly a good thing for college football. If a program like Nebraska can die, who is to say your program can’t?

Jon J: Stay, Barely

Y’all know that I don’t like the idea of firing coaches, but today’s Pelini antics have somewhat convinced me that Bo will never change. I liked the fact that he got in the official’s face about that pass interference call, and I didn’t mind that he got an unsportsmanlike conduct call for it either. A coach has to fight for his team. Calling it a "chicken shit call" after the game… that’s just plain dumb.

During today’s game we heard from the TV announcers that Kirk Ferentz was going ballistic after offsetting personal foul penalties. We didn’t see it until the end, because at the time the announcers were talking about it, the camera was on Pelini. During the postgame presser, Pelini made the comment that the media had created a storyline around his job status. He’s right. "Angry Bo Pelini" is the narrative that surrounds him, and I’m not sure he’ll ever overcome it.

Today’s game has made me indifferent towards whether Pelini stays or goes. I’d like to see him get another year because of how many injuries the team had this year, and because the future looks bright with all the young players. That, and stability is the key to long term success.

On the other hand, if he’s fired, Shawn Eichorst might have to talk in public and actually earn the nearly $1M a year he’s being paid to not talk so far. After that we can all talk about whether or not it’s time for Harvey Perlman to go.

Husker Mike:  Stay.

I’ve made my points clear in the past, so I won’t go into too much depth here. He made mistakes in his recruiting early on, and he made changes. The defense is very young and rapidly improving. The offense tanked this year, but most teams struggle when they’re down to a third string quarterback and backfilling the offensive line from the scout team.

Brian: Go

I’m on the record a few weeks ago saying that I’m fine with Bo staying if he’s made some changes and is willing to take the risk of the program getting worse in order to get better. Matter of factly, I can even say this morning at 10am, when I was in the shower getting ready to head into my job, I was hoping that Nebraska would win this game, but I hope a win (getting us to 9 wins) wouldn’t mask the fact that some systemic issues need to be addressed in the offseason.

However, after today and the actions of Bo on both the sideline and the press conference afterwards, I really don’t know how you can keep him anymore. I can live with a loss to Iowa, in that they are the same team record wise as Nebraska this year. However, it’s hard when not only you lose in the way that Nebraska lost 2 of their last 3 games (turnovers, bad decisions, special teams gaffes) and then calling out your AD and basically saying it’s everyone else’s fault but yourself… well.

It’s not that Bo can’t learn and live from this, but it’s going to be very hard to do that at Nebraska next year. I can live losing to Iowa, I can live losing to Michigan State, I can live losing to UCLA, but I have a very hard time living with the way Nebraska killed themselves in those games.

Yes, there were injuries. Yes, there is a young D getting better. But it’s more than that. It starts with your head coach not hitting (or coming very close to hitting) an official in the face with a hat. It’s not saying (even though you’re thinking) that something was "a chicken shit call". It’s more than wondering why the other HC isn’t getting a flag for saying things.

Relentless. Accountability. Competitive. That was the slogan for the Nebraska Football team this August. I saw parts of one or two of those things on Friday, on Senior Day, against your "rival", when nothing was on the line. No accountability on the field or behind the microphone. If you want Bo to become the next Tom Osborne, you hold him accountable for his actions, words, and product on the field.

Bottom line is this… it’s harder for Shawn Eichorst and Harvey Perlman to justify him staying at this moment, than it is to let him go, or for Bo to resign himself. A separation needs to happen.

Paul D: Go

Six weeks ago I thought Bo needed to move on. Then over the last week I changed my tune and began to think that it would be ludicrous to fire him. Now, I can't see how he can stay.

In what he had to know was his one last chance to plead his case he got blown out by a 7-4 team and nearly assaulted a ref during an all-too-familiar temper tantrum on the sidelines. Combine that with a commitment to stand by his coordinators who are not up to the task and his own boneheaded mistakes and you have a situation in which the well is poisoned. There are no more chances, no more opportunities for apology.