Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Give me a lunch-pale coach over a CEO anyday

In Tuesday night’s edition of the Lincoln Journal Star, columnist Steve Sipple chronicled how Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini insists he is not looking elsewhere despite rumors the last two seasons to head coaching jobs at Miami, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State.

Sipple also addressed the notion of can Pelini continue to grow as a CEO despite always being so heavily involved on the defensive side of the ball.

“I think that's crazy,” he shot back, refuting Sipple’s stance. He noted South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier’s heavy involvement with the Gamecocks’ offense. There obviously is a long list of head coaches who also serve as coordinators.

Even with John Papuchis being hired as defensive coordinator to replace Carl Pelini, who has since become the Florida Atlantic head coach, rest assured that Bo Pelini will continue to be the straw that stirs the drink for the Husker defense. Keep in mind, there is a large segment of Nebraska fans clamoring for Pelini to make a splash hire with dismissed Arizona head coach Mike Stoops. The fact that Pelini hired Papuchis instead of Stoops created a perception that Pelini would prefer to hire a “yes man” rather than someone who is his equal.

Pelini seems to have the respect of his players and coaches, not to mention athletic director Tom Osborne. So, he must be doing something right. Pelini relied too much on now former offensive coordinator Shawn Watson early-on and learned a hard lesson, hire your own people. Now, he has a lucrative contract, has his own staff, and has at least nine wins each of four years. Hopefully, the Huskers can get No. 10 on Monday in the Capital One Bowl against South Carolina.

Pelini hasn’t done himself many favors in dealing with the media, often choosing the approach of secracy and suspicion and that also goes for fan interaction. His horizons are still too narrow in the PR arena.

Overall, he has been a partial success (39-15 in four years as Nebraska’s head coach), even without any championships but, that needs to change for the long haul. A long term contract would still be appropriate in my opinion to cement his effort here. I think that Pelini has his principles and priorities firmly in place. Sometimes, they just don’t coincide with the fans’ need for information. I doubt Pelini will change much there.

If Watson had done his job in the first place, Pelini would have been fine. The offensive failures have pushed Pelini to expand his horizons, which has been good for him and the team.

The idea that Pelini looks to hire “yes” people, however, is somewhat laughable. Where is the proof in that? Are you saying Papuchis never is allowed to have any personal input, and just says “anything you want, coach.” And current offensive coordinator Tim Beck apparently doesn’t really call the plays?

Newsflash. Any head coach will staff his program with assistants who share the head coach’s visions and wishes. When they don’t, you end up with a Watson situation, where the coach has a vision for an offense that differs from the offensive coordinator’s vision.

I’ve seen nothing in Papuchis’ resume to hint that he’s not ready to step up to be the defensive coordinator. Likewise, isn’t Rick Kaczenski an experienced defensive line coach with a proven record of success in the Big 10?

Always something to complain about, I guess.

Pelini was also confronted with making some disciplinary decisions and he “gathered all the facts available” and made some decisions regarding player involvement in bowl activities. This year as well as last year.

The final point I would make is, Osborne doesn’t seem to have any problems or questions with the manner in which Pelini is managing his program. Given that, I have to acquiesce to Osborne’s coaching experience (offensive minded) and decision making.

Besides, the term CEO sort of conjures up this image of a man in a three piece suit too afraid to get it soiled and wrinkled by placing a shoulder into a blocking sled. Rolls eyes and thinks. Heaven forbid that Pelini give up his baseball cap and sweats. I like that lunch pail attitude and work ethic that Pelini brings and is instilling into the team.

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