Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pelini to greener pastures rumors par for the course

No sooner does Bobby Petrino go down in a cloud of disgrace at Arkansas did Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini’s name become rumored as Petrino’s replacement.

It’s not the first time Pelini’s name has come up for head coaching jobs not named Nebraska and it won’t be the last. In the last two years, Pelini has been rumored to leave Nebraska for Miami, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State.

Bo Pelini's post-practice reaction to Nebraska media members would indicate he has no interest in the job.

"You talking about the Arkansas thing?" Pelini asked. "Actually, I didn't even know my name got thrown around. I don't even know how that stuff happens.

"I'm here and I'm happy to be here."

Pelini went on to refer to his name being linked to the Arkansas opening is "kind of ludicrous."

"I always say this (Nebraska) is a destination job; it's not a steppingstone job," he said. "People throw names out there. At the end of the day, we're focused on trying to win a championship here.

"That's all I'm concerned with. That's what we're looking forward to doing -- having the best football team we can this fall."

Arkansas, where Petrino was the head coach from 2008-2011, fired Petrino on Tuesday for not disclosing his relationship to a female employee.

In March, Petrino was involved in a motorcycle crash while sliding off the highway. He was riding along with former Arkansas All-SEC volleyball player Jessica Dorrell, who he had hired on March 28, as the student-athlete development coordinator for the football program after serving as a fundraiser in the Razorback Foundation. Petrino initially said he was alone. However, on April 6, just minutes before a police report was to be released showing Dorrell was also aboard, Petrino revealed that Dorrell was not only a passenger, but that he had an inappropriate relationship with her. Athletic director Jeff Long placed Petrino on an indefinite paid leave of absence while he reviewed the situation.

On Tuesday, Long announced that Petrino had been fired. During Long's investigation, it was discovered that Petrino made a previously undisclosed $20,000 cash gift to Dorrell. It was also revealed that Dorrell may have received preferential treatment in her hiring to the football staff, as Petrino's relationship with Dorrell was not disclosed and Petrino was on the hiring committee. Long determined that Petrino's attempts to mislead both him and the public about the accident and his relationship with Dorrell were grounds to fire Petrino for cause. Assistant coach Taver Johnson was named interim coach.

I think people linking Pelini to all these other jobs has to do more with the money involved rather than the Nebraska job being a stepping stone. Pelini is slated to earn $2.7 million this year.

Pelini is a work in progress as a head coach, but he is changing things that don't work well to get even better. That's why I hoped Tom Osborne to offer him a long term contract, with big incentives to stay the course. The last thing we need is any kind of head coaching change for the next 15 years. There have already been too many assistant coaching changes, but some have been necessary to help the program.

I really just want Pelini and the players to get focused on what they want and go take what they want. If they can do that, I believe things will improve.

There are a segment of Husker fans frustrated enough with Pelini to want to see a coaching change. Pelini has led the Huskers to a 39-16 record, leading a floundering program out of the Bill Callahan era wreckage from 5-7 in 2007 to 8-4 in 2008 but in the ensuing three years, Nebraska has gone 10-4, 10-4 and 9-4.

However, which coach would you rather have and what coach is out there right now that would be a better fit for Nebraska? We've seen what happens when an AD fires a head coach with no plan on what to do next, you get Callahan and your program dips into misery it hadn't seen in 30 plus years. So give me a list of coaches that would be better than Bo that Nebraska would have a legitimate shot at hiring.

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