Bo Pelini's Illness Thrusts Nebraska DC John Papuchis into Spotlight

J.P. Scott@TheJPScottSenior Analyst IMarch 19, 2017

LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMBER 15: Nebraska Cornhuskers' defensive coordinator John Papuchis shakes hands with Arkansas State Red Wolves' head coach Gus Malzahn after their game at Memorial Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Nebraska won 42-13. Papuchis had to take the help of the Cornhuskers after Head Coach Bo Pelini was taken to the Hospital at halftime. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images

Nebraska defensive coordinator John Papuchis had a week worth forgetting. 

For starters, his defense was shredded by UCLA last Saturday, putting him in the crosshairs of the media all week.

Then came the PR nightmare on Friday, when he was caught on camera raising his voice at a fan who asked a question about the state of the program.

Needless to say, Papuchis didn't win over many fans with that either.

Then came Saturday. With Nebraska up big on Arkansas State as the first half came to a close, head coach Bo Pelini first needed to take a seat on the bench and was later spotted on national television getting his heart rate checked by a member of the training staff.

Pelini never came out of the locker room for the second half. It was later reported that he had left the stadium in an ambulance.

As the ESPN 2 announcers began to question who would take over head-coaching duties in Pelini's place, they never mentioned Papuchis.

It quickly became apparent that it was in fact John Papuchis running the show, and ESPN 2 would announce as much shortly thereafter.

For the rest of the game, in the place of what was usually an angry and intense Bo Pelini, the national media instead focused on an involved and excited Papuchis, with whom the Husker players seemed to mesh well during a seamless transition.

After a rough third quarter, the Huskers righted the ship, and they pulled away in the fourth with the young defensive coordinator at the helm. Nebraska sealed the victory and perhaps temporarily saved Papuchis' reputation in the process.

It will be interesting to see how fans react to Papuchis going forward, as a brutal stretch of the schedule approaches. For now, at least for a week, all sins are forgiven in the eyes of Husker Nation.