A couple of seasons ago LSU was undefeated late in the season. Following an improbable win over Tennessee I was listening to a post game show as Tiger fans called for Les Miles to be fired. A year later many of the same fans vocally wished for Miles to take the then open Michigan job.
Bob Stoops won a national championship in his second season at Oklahoma. Since that championship he has been to three more National Championship games and won six Big 12 titles. At the same time Stoops has lost those championship games and for a time his moniker big game Bob. Some Sooner fans have wondered out loud has the program grown stagnate and can Stoops win the big one without the all-star coaching staff of his first few years.
Sound familiar? These fervent fan bases are the result of successful football factory’s where fans become even more fanatical than normal.
Pelini was at OU and LSU and had to know that would be the case taking the job at NU. Hell he had to hear the people loudly complaining about Solich during the 2003 season.
Head Coach Bo Pelini has done two sit down long-form interviews over the past month with the state’s columnists. The topics were as expected, Bo’s perceived anger issues, questions about the possibly the program is stagnant and inconsistent play.
Nearly every answer Pelini has given seems to indicate that someone else is to blame. The media and fan’s complaints lead to inconsistent play, because of irrational expectations. Television and the cameras are why people believe Bo has an issue with his temper. The defense isn’t too complex it’s the players being too undisciplined and inconsistent.
There is no question that Pelini has done an amazing job turning around the Huskers in his four seasons. One of a handful of teams to win at least 9 games Nebraska has returned to a consistent top 25 team.
After reading Sipple’s column I am left with these questions. 1) If the fan base was more understanding and level-headed would Bo have won even more games? 2) If the attention was less would that lead to more consistency? 3) If the TV cameras weren’t so focused on him would he not be perceived as a crazy man?
Bo says he doesn’t care about how he is perceived and he shouldn’t. His job is to be the CEO, recruit, instill discipline and win games. As Pelini says, it’s about the process and results, and that is how he will be judged today, tomorrow and for seasons to come. Unless he chooses to go somewhere else where it’s easier to be a head coach.
One more thing. One answer from Sipple’s column by which I’m intrigued is to this question, is your defense too complex for some players? Pelini says no and he certainly should know after teaching it for years. On the other hand he has had a tough time getting some young players on the field. Last season his brother Carl admitted the guys just were not picking it up as quickly as in the past. Players we have talked to have said they are better prepared for the NFL because they played in Bo’s complex defense.
I think the answer is simple. The defense requires exceptional talent in the interior line and in the secondary to be great. So far Bo and his staff haven’t proven to be exceptional recruiters. That beyond everything else is going to have to change in order to reach the level the fervent fan base hopes for every year.
And one more thing, even if the Huskers had beaten South Carolina the questions about the let down versus Northwestern and the inconsistent play verses Michigan and Wisconsin still would have been there as a footnote to the 2011 season. Albeit a much smaller footnote.