The Bo Pelini rumor mill has struck again. Last year it was Miami and later Michigan. This year it is Ohio State and Penn State. The former eventually hired Urban Meyer. As for the latter, Tom Bradley became the interim head coach after the dismissal of legendary head coach Joe Paterno in the wake child sexual abuse charges of long-time assistant Jerry Sandusky.
David Jones of the Harrisburg, Pa., Patriot-News reported that Pelini and Penn State officials spoke recently about the school’s open football job. According to Jones, Pelini is not in the mix. Pelini denied any contact with Penn State on Monday night. Jones has covered Penn State for years. So what exactly does Pelini’s supposed flirtation with Penn State mean?
What’s really troubling about the rumors is that if he really did interview for the job, a lot of fans will see him as disloyal and untrustworthy. Though I’d hate to lose him, the reality of college athletics is that Paterno was the last of a dying breed of coaches staying in one place forever. However, if Pelini DID NOT interview, that kind of lousy reporting is not fair to Pelini or any honest coach whose program suffers as a result.
Where I get great comic relief in reading message boards is how fans are disappointed in the progress of the program yet there are happy or content with Pelini and feel he needs to be kept for many years. Or that at the same time many people are happy with the progress yet can’t stand his brusque demeanor. Or those at the same time people are kind of numb with the progress and think Pelini can do whatever and they could care less. Or that he has done very little for NU and can leave whenever. Or they are forehead deep in Kool-Aid.
Omaha World Herald columnist Dirk Chatelin suggested that, “Many fans are growing tired of the drama. It’s not just the uncertainty of the situation; it’s doubt about whether Pelini is fully invested. Does he believe Nebraska is good enough for him?”
“I know this is a tougher place to recruit than Bo would like. I know the scrutiny — both from fans and media — can be a nuisance. But the positives clearly outweigh the negatives at Nebraska. If Pelini can’t see that, he probably needs to move on.”
“This is the mercenary age of college football. Coaches don’t dream of spending a career at one school. Ten years is a long tenure. I get that.”
“But Pelini needs to recognize his environment. Nebraska fans want a coach who views the job as a destination, not a stepping stone.”
“If Pelini stays, he needs to show Nebraska fans a little more love. Act like he’s appreciative of the citizens’ money, time and interest. Either way, Bo would be wise to win big next year. Because Husker fans don’t forget this kind of stuff.”
I would not be surprised if Nebraska lost Pelini someday but other than what we see in press conferences, none of us know exactly how he feels about the Nebraska job or Nebraska in general. He is not from Nebraska and probably doesn’t have the love for Nebraska the way natives do but that’s understandable.
When these rumors do arise, however, Pelini often does himself no favors by coyly addressing them if he does so at all. Pelini would do himself a big favor if he addressed these reports of journalists conversations with “unnamed sources” associated with schools looking for coaches and call them what they are -- liars.
Then if the journalist is truly reporting something he or she is willing to stand by, let them name their sources, otherwise shut the hell up. In a nutshell, put the onus on the journalist to prove that their reports are true.
Then there’s the whole matter of Pelini supposedly not liking the Nebraska job because of the scrutiny. That aspect is not going away at Penn State. For openers, you follow a legend in Paterno and you inherit a program plagued by scandal and possible NCAA sanctions on the way is unexplainable.
Though I have never met Chatelin, he comes off as a dork that has an axe to grind with Pelini. True, Pelini has his faults but the truth of the matter is most any coach will be rumored for job openings. Though we all know Tom Osborne as the iconic figure he became who was Nebraska’s head coach for 25 years, he interviewed for the Colorado head coaching job in 1978. He was also a rumored candidate for the Houston Oilers head coaching job in 1988. Osborne also considered becoming Michigan State’s head coach in the early 1990s.
I know there’s a segment of Nebraska fans that want to know if Pelini is “truly invested.” There are two problems I have with that argument. No. 1, nobody ever takes a job with any illusions of how long they will be there. None of us know what the future holds. Secondly, while I do not know Pelini personally, is there any reason why he would NOT give his best effort while he is on the job? So why should he come out and publically proclaim his allegiance to Nebraska? Just to satisfy the media and fans?
The guy has come in worked hard, done things the right way, built things soundly in all areas, and has had solid success each year, and is working for more. You can't ask for more than that in my book. Let the guy coach. Do I want him to leave? No but if he feels he needs to leave someday, that’s his business.