Husker Nation saw some good Pelini, some bad Pelini

by Dave Bradley

Out of control.
Unfortunately, that’s how I’ll remember the Bo Pelini era at Nebraska.
Out of control, as in lopsided Husker losses when they mattered most.
Out of control, as in Bo’s behavior to officials when things didn’t go the Husker’s way.
Out of control, as in his behavior, at times, to his own players and assistant coaches.
And out of control, as in the crazy, wild, and inconsistent final product he put on the field in scarlet and cream, at times something close to yet at others something far less than championship football.
I do remember when Bo was hired. All of Husker Nation, including myself, was energized and couldn’t wait for the first game. I was thankful he came back to Nebraska after being the defensive coordinator for Frank Solich in 2003.
But I also remember covering him on the field for that opening game of the season in 2008 against Western Michigan, and how upset he would become at his brother Carl, the defensive coordinator, when the Blackshirts gave up some points.
I remember the language that he used wasn’t what I considered how the head coach at the University of Nebraska should go about communicating, but I also understood Bo’s passion was one of the things that all fans wanted to see. It was one of the reasons he was hired.
Husker Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst on Sunday said there simply was not enough improvement within the program to play championship football, and that bottom line, Bo couldn’t win the big games.
And that’s true. His career record against top 10 teams was 2-9, and his record versus the AP top 25 was just 9-16.
Not acceptable.
Also, as we all know and as we are all reminded with every Husker telecast, it’s been 15 years since the Huskers last won a conference championship.
Remember the Big 12?
What makes all of this very sad is that deep down, I’m pretty sure the Bo that everyone sees on the Husker sideline is nothing like who he truly is. Thus the outpouring of frustration by current players.
But if you also recall back to when Bill Callahan was fired, his current players were upset, too.
So take that with a grain of salt. Anything else from this group of 2014 Huskers would be a giant upset.
No one could argue that Bo didn’t come to Nebraska without a championship pedigree. He played at Ohio State and coached at LSU and Oklahoma. For whatever reason, that didn’t carry over to Lincoln.
To be fair, the world of college football is far tougher than what it used to be. Nebraska’s brand, while still okay, isn’t what it used to be.
Coach Tom Osborne won conference championships and repeatedly was in the hunt for national championships until he finally broke through in 1994, so to compare him with Bo would be a mistake.
Nebraska has now tried three different coaches since Tom retired and all three have failed when it comes to big games, championship games.
But it’s not because the University lacks the resources. It’s not because the University lacks support from the administration. And it’s not because Husker Nation suddenly expects anything less than the best.
It’s difficult to name one area where Bo has failed, one area that got him fired. He’s done so many wonderful things, too, like his foundation, like the Jack Hoffman story and like making sure his players go to school and stay out of trouble (for the most part).
I love watching him go around to all his players during pre-game warm ups, giving each one a fist bump and to wish them good luck. A lot of coaches don’t do that. But I hate when he loses focus during games, instead concentrating on what he thinks was a bad call.
I love when he laughs at his Monday press conference, but I hate it when he’s angry and frustrated in his post-game press conference.
And I love watching him congratulate a player on a good or great play, when he’s in the moment one on one, but I hate it when he follows a player all the way to the bench and chews him out over and over again.
So some good, some bad.
In the end, that variation was too much to overcome, even for a fighter like Bo.
Husker Nation need not and should not lower their championship standards. They should expect championship football every time out.
Expectations are everything, and from my perspective, expectations have dropped significantly in the last year or two, maybe more.
Fair? Unfair? You tell me.
I do know this. Husker fans are some of the best in the nation and deserve more stability from the top.
Time will tell if we’ll get it.
DAVE BRADLEY can be reached at advertising@hamilton.net

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