Put Me In Coach: Will The Real Bo Pelini Please Stand Up

Will the real Bo Pelini please stand up? I’ve been waiting to write this column since the season started and now I have enough ammo to back it up. If the Ohio State game on Saturday didn’t do enough to wake up the general population of Nebraska fans, I don’t know what will. It proved something that most of you may recognize but don't want to admit it or face the fact. The fact that Bo Pelini just isn’t that great at coaching defense. What’s worse, is the fact that he can’t really recruit either. Those of you who thought that the next great defensive mind in the country was coming to Lincoln when Pelini was hired were greatly mistaken. College football is about recruiting. Sure, Pelini was part of national championship caliber teams at LSU and Oklahoma and it only further blinded the general public when he left to right his own vessel at Nebraska. The thing you need to realize is that Pelini hasn’t recruited a single defensive standout in college football. The recruiting at LSU and Oklahoma were done by Les Miles and Bob Stoops, two of the greatest coaches college football has to offer not named Urban Meyer or Nick Saban. Before I go any further, let me say that I am just as big of Nebraska fan as the next person. I took no pleasure in watching the Ohio State Buckeyes bring back haunting memories of the Bobby Purify lead Colorado Buffalos that slapped our defense silly during the Bill Callahan era. When Pelini came to Nebraska, he had a great defensive line lead by Ndamukong Suh and an NFL secondary. So he continued to fool people that he was a good defensive coordinator. The thing that is important to remember is that, in spite of himself, Callahan recruited those players, he just couldn’t coach them. Let’s look at some stats. Pelini made his first college coaching job as the defensive coordinator at Nebraska in 2003 where he inherited a defensive line from Frank Solich that dominated the Big 12. Key word there-inherited- more rental cars that he got to drive around campus while he was there. He was the co-defensive coordinator on Bob Stoop’s 2004 Oklahoma Sooners staff that went to the national championship game against USC. That squad finished the season ranked sixth in rush defense, 11th in scoring defense and 13th in overall defense. From there he went to LSU for three seasons where he was under the direction of Miles. From 05-07, the Tigers went 34-6 and won the SEC and national championship in 2007. They reached the title game again in 2008. That 2007 LSU defense was ranked third in the nation in total defense. Sure, it’s listed as Pelini’s defense in the news reports much like it is with his defenses at Oklahoma. It’s his defenses with Les Miles and Bob Stoops recruits. Pelini has worked under NFL coaches such as Bill Belicheck and former Packers coach Mike Sherman. Another pattern, working under great coaches. Nebraska is Bo Pelini’s ship now. These past couple of seasons we’ve seen his recruits on display. The results haven’t been nearly as glamorous. The 2011 defense ranked 37th overall, 64th in rush defense, 34th in passing efficiency, 18th in passing yards and 42nd in points allowed. So far, in the 2012 season, the Huskers are ranked 49th in total defense, 73rd in scoring defense, 32nd in pass efficiency and to top it off, the 92nd second ranked run stopping offense in the nation. Go ahead Husker fans, crown the man, stick with him, I dare you. Once you look closer, the fact of the matter is that Pelini has only proven that he can do a good job of driving cool, borrowed cars. Being a good defensive mind as a head coach is about getting your own talent in the door and on the field. It even includes getting talent on the sidelines. Let’s look into his defensive coordinater John Papuchis. The accolades on his Nebraska resume stop about the same time Pelini’s did- after the 2010 seeason, after everyone else’s recruits were gone. Nebraska is likely going to end up winning the Big 10 title by default, since Ohio State- clearly the best team in the conference- is ineligible. This past Saturday in Columbus- a sort of homecoming for Pelini who played for Ohio State- he went up against the toughest test his defense will face all season. He fell flat on his face. It’s clear now that the real Bo Pelini has stood up and showed his true colors. He’s shown he clearly can’t recruit, and he really can’t coach defense unless it’s with somebody elses talent. Fans, that’s the real Bo Pelini. It’s time to take off the blinders and see him for what he really is. I’ll tell you what he isn’t- a great defensive mind.