In the week that has passed since the now infamous audio tape of Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini was released, rumors have run rampant.
From the quarterback situation to whether or not defensive coordinator John Papuchis has been fired (he has not), fans have been talking. One of the conversations has centered around Pelini and who will be his replacement.
Despite the University of Nebraska's statement that the issue has been put to rest, fans still believe Pelini will be fired.
While fans now know his tenure at Nebraska will not be terminated mid-season, there are many under the assumption that it's only a matter of time.
Nebraska fans need to tread lightly on that thought. As of right now, Pelini is honestly the Huskers best option.
This may seen unfair, especially to the countless folks discussing who will be hired in Pelini's place. Names such as Jim Tressel, Jon Gruden and Scott Frost have been tossed into the ring, alongside countless others.
It all just feels a little premature.
Prior to the audio tape's release, Pelini was never really in the hot seat. His seat may have been a little warmer than usual after the loss to UCLA but most fans were not yet calling for his job. There's a reason for that, too.
Former Nebraska head coach and athletic director Tom Osborne summed it up best. In his statement on Pelini's audio tape, Osborne was clear:
Bo’s academic record with the football team has been the best in my recollection. The behavior of his players has been excellent for the most part, he has won three divisional championships and had one of the best win-loss records in college football for the past five years.
Pelini's record isn't something to sneeze at. In fact, many programs across the country would love to have the wins and divisional championships Nebraska has under Pelini. The Huskers are an admired team by many, for their program, fans and tradition, as much as their wins over the years.
However, for every positive spin, there is a negative way to spin it, too.
Fans point at the 2012 Big Ten Championship. Most recently, fans point to the loss against UCLA. The statistics that come along with major losses such as those are hard to ignore.
The negative tends to cloud the positive more than the other way around though.
On the positive side of things, Pelini has turned his behavior around significantly. His sideline antics have greatly improved.
The head coach has gotten to know and celebrate the Hoffman family, allowing their son Jack to make history in the Nebraska spring game.
Pelini even honored fallen UCLA wide receiver Nick Pasquale's number on the Huskers' helmets. These things are often forgotten when taking a hard look at the head coach.
In addition to the positives off the field, Pelini's numbers are more positive than many give him credit for too.
Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports summed it up nicely. In an article prior to South Dakota State (Pelini's win total has changed slightly as a result), Wetzel compared the head coach to the man he is so often pegged up against:
Osborne went 255-49-3 [.836] in 25 seasons because he was a brilliant coach and during his tenure, the school cared a lot more about football than all but a few schools. He retired in 1997 though and that isn't the case anymore. Everyone has facilities and budgets and a big spotlight. It's a different day. This is still a terrific place, but it isn't likely to be what it was ever again. Pelini is a respectable 51-21 [.708]. It isn't enough for some/many.
It really isn't enough for everyone. Pelini knows that. His job, aside from the critics, is to continue coaching his football team through both wins and losses. That's all that has even mattered to him, regardless of what people are saying.
Fans are still talking though. There is a loud group that want the coach gone.
The biggest question that arises from all of this is a simple one: Who replaces Pelini if he's run out of town?
Since Osborne retired, Nebraska has hired and fired both Frank Solich and Bill Callahan. Pelini is now in the hot seat, working to not end up as a member of that group.
If the rest of the 2013 season does not go as planned, fans will be calling for Pelini's job. Who replaces him becomes the biggest concern.
What Nebraska fans don't want is more of the same. At this point in time, it's hard to see who could be hired that wouldn't be just that. There are plenty of people that would fit but would their numbers be much different than Pelini's? That's the catch-22.
A program should never be afraid to fire a coach if the reasons are there. For Pelini though, the reasons are not strong enough just yet for the athletic department to let him go. Wishing for someone else may be a fun fantasy for fans but in the big scheme of things, it's not realistic.
If Pelini is not meant to be at Nebraska, it will work itself out that way. In the mean time, the head coach is still the best fit for the Huskers. It may not be what all fans want to hear but it's the reason the man is still in charge today.
As for now, it's for the best.
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