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Op-Ed - Let's Slow Our Roll with the "Fire Pelini" Talk

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Firing Bo Pelini would place him among some pretty dodgy company.

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

I get it.  I really do.  We got beat in the worst way imaginable in Madison.  It may have been the worst Husker loss of the modern football era.  It should have hurt more than it did, but I've become inoculated to Badger beatdowns.

And it didn't take long for the 'Fire Pelini' calls to begin.  On Saturday I received a recommendation to sign a Change.org petition of three words:  "Fire Bo Pelini".  And then this happened:

If you're like me and didn't recognize it, it's a hijacked version of the NFL's anti-domestic violence video.

HuskerNation needs to take a deep breath and try see the big picture here.  Your Nebraska Cornhuskers are 8-2 with 2 regular season games left.  A decent, but far from great, Minnesota team is coming to Lincoln next Saturday and then it's a road trip to Iowa City to face a bad Iowa team.  It's possible, no, likely that Nebraska will finish the regular season at 10-2.

No coach will be fired after a 10-2 record.  And no coach should be.  The very idea is ludicrous.

Lots of coaches led teams to embarrassing losses from 2009-2013, but for a coach to be fired for winning more than 7 games takes more than just losing...it takes some kind of major malfeasance.  Coaches who win 8 or more games leave to retire, take AD jobs, or to take better jobs.  They don't get fired though.

Since the beginning of the 2009 season only one coach has been fired after winning 9 or more games.  Bobby Petrino of Arkansas won 11 in 2012.  2 coaches have been fired after winning 8 games.  One was Dave Wannstedt in 2010 at Pitt.  The other was Joe Paterno in 2011.

Breaking down the reasons these three were fired we find that Petrino was banging an athletic department employee and then lied to his boss about her involvement in his motorcycle accident.  JoePa...well...we all know what happened at Penn State.  And Wannstedt's pornstache simply wore its welcome in Pittsburgh.

wins
I'm not saying that Bo Pelini should return as the coach of the Huskers next year.  I'm actually undecided about that particular point.   What I'm not on the fence about is that calling for Pelini to be fired is more than a waste of time...it highlights how bad HuskerNation is when it comes to seeing the football program objectively.  It's been 19 years since the last time Nebraska was a National Champion and 13 years since it played for one.

Nebraska is not an elite program.  It cannot simply evict the occupant of the head coach's office and expect a flood of applications from the best coaches in the game to start filling Shawn Eichorst's mailbox.  Does anyone remember the Charlie Foxtrot that was Nebraska's coaching search the last time we fired a 9-win coach?

Nick Saban does.

"They have great tradition," LSU coach Nick Saban said. "It's unusual to get rid of a coach who goes 9-3. Maybe some people are skeptical of the standards."

Firing Frank Solich was a strategic blunder of the highest order, and Nebraska is still dealing with the consequences. Googling "Nebraska fires Solich" reveals hundreds of news articles that all seem to lead off with Solich's 9-3 record.  It was an action that shocked the sports world.  It's probably not out of bounds to say that it was a defining moment in Husker history along side Osborne going for 2 and Tommie Frazier's "The Run".  Firing another 9- or 10-win coach will ensure that no coach who isn't starving to death would even consider coming to Lincoln.

There are many changes that need to happen in the Nebraska football program.  And I'm far from confident that Coach Pelini knows what they are or has the guts to make them.  But they are his to make.  Unless Bo leaves Lincoln of his own accord, he is going to be the head coach next year.

So how about we stop wasting oxygen talking about firing him?