Just two short weeks ago, the not-so-silent majority of Husker Nation was calling for Bo Pelini’s head and making plans for an offseason coaching search.
One Hail Mary and a win at the Big House later, the tune has changed.
After becoming the first team to knock off Michigan in Ann Arbor during Brady Hoke’s tenure, the Nebraska Cornhuskers are trending up as they head into a season defining game against Michigan State in Lincoln on Saturday.
Shockingly, after such a big win, the Nebraska fanbase was relatively quiet on social media. One college football fan who didn’t watch the game took to Facebook to jokingly point out how Nebraska must have won because he didn’t see any posts calling for the firing of Bo Pelini.
Joke or not, that’s pretty much how the season has gone for Pelini. After both losses in 2013, the Nebraska fanbase all but took to the streets with torches and pitchforks, fed up that their team was blowing leads and losing to teams that they supposedly shouldn’t. The loudest complaint was that Pelini couldn’t win big games on national television.
The win over Michigan was both big and on national TV. It also put the Huskers in position to play another game with more meaning next weekend.
The win was vintage Pelini. The offense did just enough to win the game, while the defense was exceptional, both against the run and rushing the passer. It’s the kind of game Nebraska fans have seen time and time again against offenses with traditional pocket passers under center. That’s where his defense is at its best.
The Huskers now sit at 7-2 with games against Michigan State, Penn State and Iowa remaining. If things go the way they have been and according to how the experts think they should go, Nebraska should finish the year no worse than they ever do with Pelini — with nine wins and a trip to another high-profile bowl game.
That is the standard Pelini has set at Nebraska. It’s not the standard of the program historically, but in the 21st century, you’d be hard pressed to find many schools where that’s not acceptable. Bo Pelini is as consistent as any coach in America in that aspect.
There is still the outside chance that Nebraska can win out and set themselves up with a meeting in Indianapolis with Ohio State — the winner getting a trip to the Rose Bowl. It’s only a chance, but it exists. It exists in part because Bo Pelini is a professional and a good enough coach to stay the course, ignore the detractors and trust his system and ideals.
Lesser coaches might have crumbled under the scrutiny. Pelini, year after year, seems to thrive on it.
Going forward, Nebraska fans have a choice They can accept Pelini for what he is and does — a winning football coach with flaws who sticks to his guns regardless of what others think. Or they can sacrifice the known, pull out the torches and pitchforks and try running him out of town in hopes of landing a guy who can do better.
I guarantee Bo Pelini couldn’t care less what choice is made. He’s just going to keep doing what he gets paid to do, showing up on Saturday, winning more games than he loses and not letting the critics get the best of him.
BY J.P. SCOTT ON NOVEMBER 10, 2013
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