So far, so good.
During Bo Pelini’s initial head coaching tenure, the 43-year-old defensive mastermind has accumulated a 30-12 record.
His teams have won no less than nine games, the past two have posted 10-win seasons, and he is 3-1 in bowl games.
It’s time to take his legacy to the next level, but when will Pelini be able to?
He arguably had the athletes to do so this past season. Many pundits had Nebraska pegged as BCS bowl-bound, if not a participant in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game.
Quite a bit of focus was put on defeating the Texas Longhorns by the Cornhuskers well before last season started—365 days' worth to be exact.
Not achieving their goal of sending Texas packing was surely a difficult thing to stomach.
Losing to the Oklahoma Sooners in the Big 12 Championship Game was just as difficult.
Standing on the sidelines only to watch his team lose to a Washington Huskies squad that was pulverized earlier in the year? That was simply insult to injury.
Suddenly, a double-digit win total for the 2010 season doesn’t seem so impressive.
It’s moments like these in a coach’s career that defines them. It all starts with the latest crop for the Cornhuskers.
Nebraska has a horde of talent about to sign letters of intent this Wednesday, including a litter of the nation’s best offensive line prospects, one of its finest running backs and a potential two-sport wunderkind.
No Cornhusker fan should be concerned too much with Nebraska's defense during their days as a Big Ten conference member under Pelini's watch. He has shown that he can work wonders when it comes to stifling an offense, but far too many teams have returned the favor.
This is where offensive line recruits such as Ryan Klachko, Tyler Moore, Ryne Reeves and Zach Sterup come into play. Running backs Aaron Green and Ameer Abdullah look to help aid likely All-Big Ten candidate Rex Burkhead.
Kicker Mauro Bondi de-committed from Wake Forest to try his hand at the unthinkable task of replacing adored kickers Adi Kunalic and Alex Henery.
The biggest question in this Cornhusker recruiting class mark lies at quarterback. Jamal Turner has shown that he has excellent athleticism for the position. If big-time baseball prospect Bubba Starling spurns the major leagues, then Pelini inherits an athlete that could outshine any other under center.
It appears that recruiting is still going strong for Nebraska, but Pelini requires an efficient offense to go with his smothering defenses.
Otherwise, he will find himself in a similar position in the Big Ten as he did in the Big 12.
Dominating a division, but not taking home a conference championship.
The 2011 season offers the Cornhuskers a chance to breathe. Expectations will lower somewhat with their entry into a more difficult conference. Thanks to Pelini’s defensive knowledge, Nebraska should manage to post a respectable record.
Recruiting classes are always full of question marks and so much potential. Pelini and his staff need to find a way to make sure that his athletes can utilize their tools properly.
If that can be accomplished, then rivals Big Ten coaches may see one of the scariest things on the Nebraska sideline aside from Pelini himself.
He may smirk in satisfaction.
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