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Does Bo Stay or Does Bo Go Now? CN Staffers Discuss

The murky water around the Nebraska football program did not get any clearer after Bo Pelini and his football team came back from down 24-7 to defeat the Iowa Hawkeyes yesterday. The job status of the headman has been a hot topic for more than a year now and the debate will rage on until we have our answers. When will that come? That's anyone's guess, but until that moment, the passionate discourse will ensue. We got our brightest minds together to discuss what we thing will, or perhaps, should happen to Pelini and his staff and asked the question: What changes do you expect in the Nebraska Football Coaching Staff for 2015 and beyond?

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Paul: Honestly, I don’t expect any.  I don’t think Bo Pelini will be fired and I’m almost certain that he won’t make changes on his own.

Mike: While I agree that Bo won’t be fired, I do believe that he’ll make staff changes. It will be done his way, similar to how Shawn Watson and Ted Gilmore were jettisoned.  Bo is loyal and won’t throw any member of his staff under the bus, but he also understands his team underachieved this year.

So who changes?  John Papuchis is the most likely candidate, but finding a comparable new position might be tough. Likewise with Barney Cotton.  I wonder if you might see them pursue a head job at a lower division school.  Ross Els, I wouldn’t be surprised if he moves into an administrative position over the recruiting operations.  Tim Beck is an enigma; I think Bo would like to keep him, but quarterback development has been an issue.  If you bring in a quarterback coach, then you are short changing yourself elsewhere on offense.  So maybe Beck moves on as well.

"Bo needs to decide if he wants to coach the University of Nebraska or coach with his buddies."

Jon: The last three games of the season we played power football teams, and we ran a lot of nickel against them. Why? Because you couldn’t name a linebacker you could trust to be on the field other than Zaire Anderson. If that isn’t an indictment of that position, well, what the hell is? Ross Els, good bye.

Tim Beck. I like the spread offense that Beck runs. This idea that we need to run two tight ends and a fullback to be successful is silly, but Beck lost me late this season, particularly at Wisconsin. Nebraska seemed to have a thing going with the inside/outside zone stuff, but it’s like Beck has a need to call three passes in a row per game like a heroin addict needs another score RIGHT NOW.

I have no idea what Barney Cotton really does other than draw a paycheck and the offensive line was so bad this season; something has to change there. People complain about Tommy Armstrong… it’s hard to throw a pass when you’re under constant pressure. Either Beck needs to go or the offensive line coaches have to go.

Andy: "Bo needs to decide if he wants to coach the University of Nebraska or coach with his buddies."

I saw this response in a thread after an article this past week or two - hell, not sure which, the group rage all blurred at some point - and I thought it hit the nail on the head. Around Bo years 3-4, we had hit a stretch of 9-win goodness that had people relatively satisfied after what is only referred to in low snarls as the Bill Callahan Years. It allowed people to give Bo the benefit of the doubt when hiring coordinators who had exactly zero years experience in those positions. Especially one who had been a grad assistant only three years previous and was in less than no danger of being wooed away if not promoted in some fashion.

That was the time to have been asking that question and Dr. Tom should have been the one asking it. At the end of last season, Shawn "Invisible Man" Eichorst most definitely should have asked Bo that question. Now, he should be cleaning house for the simple reason that apathy has replaced anger with the fan base and apathy is a much more dangerous cat. Apathists don’t boo, scream and call the talk shows. They grab a gun or their golf clubs come football Saturday. If enough of them feel this way, an economic effect is felt. In the entire state, let alone the university.

If Eichorst gets this concept, Bo is gone. I don’t think Eichorst gets this concept. I think Eichorst is more like Henry Winkler in The Waterboy whenever Jerry Reed would start yelling at him. I think, come tomorrow or Monday, Eichorst asks the question (a year late). I think Bo blusters at him about loyalty and throws his weight around (about 3 years past having any weight to throw around). And I think maybe one assistant goes or Barney retires and that’s about it because no one has taught Eichorst to visualize a Spaniel on Bo’s neck.

Then next year, we get to enjoy an offense of Tommy minus Ameer 4.0 ( think a full season of the last 3 weeks) and 1-3 games of a defense being outcoached and outschemed while Pap sports the "What the &^%$ is happening??!" face that we’ve come to know and love so often

over the past four years. (BTW, James Dobson sucks too - stop turning quick, athletic kids into Young Frankenstein.)

And then we watch them all cleaned out next year - Bo, Beck, Pap, Winkler Eichorst, everyone - after further proof that you can’t continue to do the same things and expect different outcomes sends apathy to levels only seen in places like Washington St & Boulder, CO, Buffalo football apparel outlets.

All because no one is going to ask the question. I really, really hope I’m wrong.

(And Jon? Barney is in charge of the "Big Picture". And not bolloxing up the Pepperjax orders.)

Salt Creek: Hey, we beat Iowa! Seriously though, fire Dobson. Three seasons in a row our lines are unable to hold their own come November. Injuries happen, but I’m more annoyed with a lack of push. If we’re going to be competing in the West, our lines have to match Wisconsin’s. They don’t. And it’s not all scheme.

Speaking of scheme, it’s time for some fresh ideas and fresh faces on this staff. I don’t believe Pelini gets fired. But a major shake-up like 2002 is required. The defense in particular needs imagination again. It seems like other teams have figured out Pelini’s scheme. You can’t just change faces on a play card. New ideas are overdue.

I have no idea what to do with the offense. QB coach, please?

Ty: I think the decision about whether Bo was staying or not was made prior to the Iowa game.  If he stays, I’ll have no proof.  If he goes, well, I still have no proof.  Call it a gut-instinct here.

Before I get into it, I have to tick some people off, though. I don’t think Nebraska is as high-profile a job as a lot of Husker fans want it to be.  I’m not sure we’d be able to land a Power 5 proven coach.  Logistics is one simple reason.  You ever flown in to LIncoln or Omaha?  Coming from most of the most fertile recruiting grounds requires an entire day’s travel.  You think kids and families don’t think about that?  Add to that the fact that we may be GREAT fans… to other fans… but we don’t hold our coaches in high esteem, welp, I’m not convinced that we’d get a high-level coach in here.

ANYWAY.  It’s clear something has to change, but will Bo let people go?  I think we can make big changes most quickly by replacing Papuchis and the O-line coach.  I’m not sure what Barney Cotton brings to the table at this point.  So far, Ben’s been the most productive of his offspring and, as I understand it, the only reason Sam’s on the team is he got no offers anywhere else because he can’t catch.  I’d say we’ve seen that a couple of times.

I’ve been pro-Bo for awhile, and mostly continue to be.  I don’t know enough of the inner workings of the coaching staff to know what/who does what.  Of COURSE I want to see a change and a championship, but last time we fired a coach coming off a nine-win regular season, we got Callahan.

I’m just saying we have to be careful what we wish for.

Brian: I’m down with changes. Here’s what I would change:

Stays: Charlton (another year), Kaz (best D coach on the staff), Fisher (does well coaching and recruiting), Garrison (recruits well too, coaching could be better), Brown (not going anywhere)

Goes: Papuchis (brings nothing to the table), Els (three jobs, all done poorly. LB’s are lost, recruiting is meh, ST had to be taken by Bo), Beck (he wants a new job, help him find one), Cotton (TE’s has 8 catches this year, OL too many cooks.. what does he do again?), Dobson (S&C has failed badly in injuries/strength the last 2 seasons).

That’s what I would do. I will say this though… if Bo Pelini looks at us after NSD and tells us that he’s not changing anything, that is beyond the worst thing that could happen. Nebraska needs change and fresh voices/minds that help with the scheme and such. Tommy Armstrong needs a true QB coach, not one that passes it off to a GA. TE’s deserve more than a 6th blocking OL and our Linebackers deserve to be coached by a guy who will help them develop, not be lost in the same ways by the same guy.

Stagnation will not help you get past the want of getting better. Very rarely do you just keep the status quo and get what you want out of something special. Tim Miles said it best… you get what you allow. If guys like Cotton, Els and Papuchis are what Bo allows, that’s the best you will get.

David: One way or the other, something needs to change. I’m operating under the belief that Eichorst made his decision long before he boarded the plane for Iowa City (he was there yesterday, right? Can anyone confirm this for me?) What direction will he go? I’m not sure. If you gave him another year after last season, my question is what’s changed? If you’re asking the same questions this year that you had last year and getting roughtly the same answers, what makes you think you’re going to get different results next year. I don’t need to remind you all what some big thinker called that, right?

So, something needs to change. Does that mean starting over? There’s an argument for that. But coaches that win 9 games and get fired, it generally doesn’t turn out well for that program. Nebraska fans are, understandably afraid of a repeat of the Callahan era. That was everything Nebraska football does not want to be. And if Eichorst does decide to clean house, I’d hope he’s got a plan in the works to replace him, because if it falls apart, like it did the last time, it won’t end well. But I don’t think you should be afraid of that. If he believes a change needs to be made, have a plan, and execute it.  If he doesn’t have those wheels in motion, then you can’t pull the trigger on Bo. You must retain him and the changes should come on his staff.

To me, there’s a bigger picture issue at play, here. It’s not really about the coach. Eichorst, like anyone in his position, wants to leave a legacy behind. What will that be? It’s bigger than any coaching decision he’ll make. We’ve got a split fanbase. Both sides want the same thing: Nebraska to win again. Perhaps there are differences of opinion about how to do that, but when it all comes down to it, that’s what we want. Eichorst’s biggest issue isn’t who should be the coach of the football team. This is something Osborne couldn’t even quite fix in his final few years here. The split was already beginning there. If Eichorst wants to truly leave his mark, he’ll think bigger than the head coach, he’ll find a way to bring the fanbase back together as one. I’m honestly not sure he can do that with Bo as the face of his program.