2011 Nebraska Huskers Football: Tim Beck a Mirror Image of Bo Pelini
Flashback to 2003, Frank Solich makes a radical hire that had the college football world buzzing.
In an apparent attempt to save his job, Solich fired defensive coordinator Craig Bohl, who was getting paid to produce thoroughly average defenses for a team who was also offensively challenged after the graduation of the legendary Eric Crouch.
Coming off a .500 season, the once-mighty Cornhuskers were in danger of "gravitating into mediocrity."
Solich boldly hired an unknown NFL linebackers coach to lead the "Blackshirts" in 2003. The name "Bo Pelini" was on the tip of every tongue throughout Husker Nation.
Who was he? What did he know about coordinating a defense?
Pelini responded by sending an electric shock through a sluggish defense. The Blackshirts finished 11th in the nation in total defense and second in scoring defense and takeaways.
Suddenly, a defense that had ranked in the 40s and 50s for several years had become a terror.
Eight years later, the name still sends chills down spines in Lincoln. A man once unknown and unproven had risen to the top.
Pelini was able to achieve this through his knowledge of the game.
His ability to simplify the playbook, teach concepts, and mold his group of players into a cohesive unit were the secrets to his overwhelming success.
And, eight years later, Bo Pelini found himself in a similar situation to his former boss.
Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson wasn't a good fit for Pelini's vision, and an inconsistent, undisciplined offensive group was withholding a championship from his grasp.
Throughout a surprising 2009 season and disappointing 2010 season (funny how heightened expectations can so drastically differentiate two 10-win seasons), abysmal offensive play repeatedly leashed the Huskers from breaking into college football's elite.
At a crossroads, Pelini chose to part ways with Watson and bring in a fresh new face.
Enter new offensive coordinator Tim Beck, formerly Nebraska's running backs coach and Kansas' receivers coach.
This hire was confusing to some people. Many, including myself, itched to see Pelini bring in the young and fiery Scott Frost. While Frost would've been a great addition, the deal didn't work out.
Instead of bringing in a proven veteran at the position, Pelini chose to look within the program for his solution.
How will Tim Beck fare as Nebraska's offensive coordinator?
Beck, although an infant in terms of calling plays, was someone that shared Pelini's vision, someone he trusted. This seemed to be the deciding factor with all of the new hires.
While Beck's promotion may not be flashy or sexy, Beck has the chance to do for his career what Pelini did for his in 2003.
And, like Pelini for his defense, Beck has a simple, conceptual vision for his offense.
When questioned about what changes will be made with the offense, Beck replied very simply, "You can't be afraid to start over. Junk everything and get a system in place."
This kind of bold, fresh attitude is something we haven't seen since Bo's impressive overhaul on defense.
Asked to go into detail, Beck confidently laid out his plan to simplify the scheme and drive concepts into the players' brains.
Beck also explained that many offensive coordinators make the mistake of complicating their schemes and packing their playbooks full of complex plays, then asking their players to memorize them.
It becomes a little bit more of, "What am I supposed to do on these plays?" as opposed to, "How do we run these plays and why are we running these plays and how to get better at them?"
Beck's intention of teaching concepts is refreshingly similar to the way Pelini teaches his defensive schemes, something that has translated to near-perfection on the football field, generating dominant defenses, and bringing Pelini national recognition as an elite defensive mind.
Pelini was forced to work his magic once again in 2008, after Steve Pederson's attempt not to "gravitate into mediocrity" resulted in a free-fall into the pits of college football.
After another impressive turnaround by the defensive mastermind, the only thing that stood in the way of a Husker championship was itself.
Tim Beck possesses a great football mind, a load of offensive talent to work with and most importantly, Pelini's trust.
He could end up swiftly climbing the coaching ladder in much the same way Bo Pelini did in 2003, with a simple, aggressive, conceptual scheme.
Only this time, the young up-and-comer will have a dominant unit on the opposite side of the ball to back him up.
While it is impossible to predict a coach's success based on the past success of a similar coach, the parallels between Beck and Pelini are both intriguing and prominent enough to warrant significant speculation.
Based on Pelini's track record with assistants, I wouldn't expect Beck to fail.
If Tim Beck can mold Nebraska's troubled offense into a cohesive, effective unit, a Division I head coaching position with his name on it may be in the not-so-distant future.
Best of all, Nebraska could rise to the top of the college football world along with him.
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