"Where have all the cowboys gone?" is a common phrase these days. People are looking for a tough, hard-nosed leader not just in sports, but in a world where everybody just cruises and doesn't take pride in their work.
That is, except the "Leader" of the Blackshirts.
Bo Pelini, when you think about it, is everything that's right about college football. He takes pride in and respects the game and abuses the refs occasionally about a situation, but when he does, you can't help but cheer on his fiery spirit. He also has a deep knowledge of defense that you can't help but want to soak in.
The first time I saw Bo Pelini coach a game in 2003 when he was just the DC at the Cornhuskers, I was 21-years-old. I played offense at a small college but would have given anything to play defense for this guy, I thought to myself. He just has a way of getting guys to buy in and take pride in playing defense on a championship level.
With all the noise coming to an end about this last round of recruits, I can't help but wonder what exactly Bo says to players when he takes his in-home visit.
He probably looks right at the athlete, then at the parent, and burns holes right in their eyes, just like he does the refs on a Saturday morning. Then he might say to them, "We want you 100 percent committed to Nebraska. If you can't give that to me, then don't waste my time." I bet he doesn't try to over sell or over promise anything except a chance to compete at a high level.
Even when kids do commit to these elite programs, it must seem like for the stars a fast lane to the NFL, to the big time.
I think about Ndamukong Suh. He was a mid first rounder for sure if he would have come out as a junior. He chose to stay even full well knowing that Nebraska was not a National Championship contender. Why would he turn down millions like that? For what maybe a little more technique and strength conditioning. He could have gotten that at the NFL.
I believe these kids really enjoy playing for this guy so much that they are willing to take hold of just one more year of that "Why not?" mentality. The NFL will always be there.
Webster's alternate definition of a cowboy: one having qualities (as recklessness, aggressiveness, or independence). Shown respect.
I think at Nebraska, we found ours.