Amidst the rumors surrounding high profile coaches such as Les Miles and Charlie Weis there is one coach silently making strides to greatness.
His name is Bo Pelini.
Now hold on a minute before you accuse me of wearing scarlet colored glasses.
This has nothing to do with being a Nebraska homer, but it does have everything to do with a renewed tradition and expectation. One that Bob Devaney started and Tom Osborne continued shortly thereafter.
From 1962 to 2001, every single Nebraska team that took the field under three different coaches, Devaney, Osborne and Frank Solich, won at least nine games.
That's still an NCAA record. Then Bill Callahan came to town and gave Nebraska their first losing season in forty-four years. Not only that, Callahan never had a nine-win season with the Huskers.
That's something that changed under the first year of Bo Pelini. A win over Clemson in the Gator Bowl gave Nebraska its first nine-win season since 2004, when the Huskers won their ninth game under interim-head coach Bo Pelini in the Alamo bowl against Michigan State.
Then Pelini was run out of town, thought to never return. Until last year, when he took the Huskers to the Gator bowl. It was a much improved season from the 5-7 Huskers a year before.
On Friday, Pelini looks to do one better; he looks to gain his ninth victory in regular season play against Colorado.
Bo Pelini has studied under some of the most intelligent men in college football. Men like Bob Stoops, Les Miles and now Tom Osborne have mentored this up and coming football coach.
But he may not be up and coming anymore. The knock on Bo is that he hasn't won that big game that would make you say, "Okay, this guy has what it takes."
All that could change next Saturday. I know, we can't look forward. Colorado is this weekend; they could lose, and then what?
For the sake of argument let's assume that the 8-3 Huskers beat the 3-8 Buffaloes this Friday and head to a Big 12 Championship game in Dallas next week.
They would most likely be ranked in the Top 25 of both polls; they would be 9-3. The best thing of all? No one expects them to win! In fact, most sane Husker fans wouldn't even be too angry at a loss. As long as it's not of the 62-28 variety.
Therein lies the problem for Texas. With last year on their mind, a national championship on the horizon and a possible Heisman in the works, they have everything to lose. Nebraska, at most, loses...just as expected.
If Bo Pelini wants to get the "wow" votes about his coaching ability it all starts with this Big 12 Championship game. If he can somehow pull off the biggest win in recent Nebraska history and send the Huskers to a BCS bowl for the first time since Solich's team got spanked in the National Championship game against the Miami Hurricanes in 2001.
Don't look now but Pelini is turning into a great coach. He is turning this Nebraska program into something special. It's not a Weis quick fix, or a Saban miracle, but it has been a steady flow of improvement. Look at the numbers; they speak for themselves.
In 2007 Nebraska finished the season 5-7 allowing over 39 points per game. Callahan got canned and in came Pelini.
Faced with the same players and a better strength of schedule, Pelini led the Huskers to a revamped style of defense that saw them drop the points per game margin by ten and increase the winning output of the team by three wins in the regular season.
I remember watching the Nebraska-Texas Tech game on Fox Sports Net. Prior to the game the analyst was asked if Nebraska would make a bowl game that season. His answer: No. They aren't talented enough and Bo Pelini hasn't shown that he can compete in the North.
That analyst was most likely surprised when the Huskers tied for the lead in the North and won a Gator Bowl bid against the Tigers of Clemson. What Pelini has done is impressive to say the least, and he won't stop here.
In 2009 Nebraska's season looked all but over after a pathetic 9-7 loss to the Iowa State Cyclones at the midway mark. Instead, Pelini rallied his troops and rattled off four straight wins including one over Oklahoma, the first win against that squad since the 2001 season.
I'm not saying Nebraska will compete for National Championship next year; I'm just here to warn the nation. Watch out, Bo Pelini is coming, and it's starting to look like a good thing for Husker nation.
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