Nebraska Football: 10 Expectations for Cornhuskers' Bo Pelini in 2011
Nebraska recently made a statement to both Bo Pelini and the rest of the coaching community: The Cornhuskers can match cash with anyone.
In his fourth year as Nebraska's head coach, Pelini will receive $2.7 million per year plus incentives, endorsements and the various other lucrative perks that come with being the Cornhuskers’ coach.
Before he whistles his way down to a local Lincoln bank, the expectations that come with that check should be discussed.
1: Crank out Another Fantastic Defense
This shouldn’t be too hard considering Pelini’s track record while at Nebraska.
With Jared Crick, Lavonte David and Alfonzo Dennard, Pelini has a leader at each level of his 2011 defense.
While there is no Ndamukong Suh to terrify Big Ten defenses this time around, the salty veterans and talented, young depth may very well match the ferocity of the 2009 unit.
2: Make Sure That the Best Offensive Talent Plays
It seems like a simple idea and one that goes without saying, but one has to wonder if Pelini can’t help but have a favorite player or two across the entire team.
It was obvious that he was going to live and die by Taylor Martinez last season, and after what the plucky redshirt freshman showed early in the season, why not?
Regardless of who lines up under center, behind the quarterback, at receiver or on the line, they need to be the best at their position, not just the favorite.
3: Ramp Up Recruiting Immediately
Fellow Big Ten member Wisconsin has four commitments, Ohio State has six, and Alabama has a whopping 11.
Nebraska has one.
At this time last year, Nebraska had commitments from six prospects.
Four of those were rated 4-star athletes by Rivals.com, and all but one eventually signed with the Cornhuskers.
John Papuchis may be the recruiting coordinator, but the head coach needs to light a fire under everyone’s rear end when it comes to building the future of the program.
4: Engage the Refs, but Know Your Limits
Bo’s not afraid to go to bat for his team.
Unfortunately, this can even be to the point of detriment, and the Big Ten isn’t going to be interested in giving Pelini leniency in his first year as a conference member's coach.
Saying that Bo is passionate is like saying the sky is blue, and while he may not be afraid to get up in a referee’s face, fines and suspensions could be waiting if he can’t keep his temper in check.
5: Win the Legends Division
The Big Ten’s Legends division looks ripe for the plucking and heading to the Big Ten Championship game as its winner would be a nice feather in Pelini’s cap.
Aside from Michigan State, no other team looks to be an immediate threat to Nebraska assuming that Michigan's Denard Robinson can be contained.
Thanks to Taylor Martinez, Pelini likely has the appropriate knowledge to stop a quarterback with that kind of acceleration or at least slow him down.
Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins and Northwestern’s Dan Persa are solid veteran signal-callers, but if Pelini has shown he can do one thing well, it’s ruffle a quarterback’s feathers.
6: Win the Big Ten Championship Game
Bo Pelini saw the Big 12 Championship game twice during his time in the conference.
They were difficult to stomach for Husker fans as both games were lost by a combined four points.
It’s time too for Pelini and Nebraska to grab the brass ring and become Big Ten Champions during their first year in the conference.
Many pundits have speculated that the Cornhuskers will meet up with the Ohio State Buckeyes for a second time in Indianapolis during the 2011 season.
Might Nebraska duplicate the results of the underdog Texas Longhorns when they met the Cornhuskers in the first ever Big 12 Championship game?
7: Win a BCS Bowl Game
Another 2010 goal repeats for Nebraska in 2011.
Is it enough to win their division? Nope.
What about a Big Ten Championship ring? No sir.
A BCS bowl win, perhaps? Now you’re cooking with gas.
Nebraska seems due for a banner year and what better story than to reach the Rose Bowl during their first year as a member of a new conference?
Of course, there’s always the possibility of bigger and better, but there’s let's not get ahead of ourselves.
8: Be Proactive Following the Season
It was time for the remnants of the Bill Callahan era to move on.
Now, it’s time to hold Pelini’s crew responsible if problems continue to crop up.
Barney Cotton’s offensive lines have been a source of constant headaches of Nebraska offenses right along with any difficulties Shawn Watson had.
False starts and offensive holding accounted for 39 of Nebraska’s most common penalties in 2010, and this isn’t a new phenomenon.
If Cotton can’t get his line in working order with the help and talent he’s been given, it’s time for Pelini to find someone who can.
9: Close the Recruiting Cycle Strong
Nebraska needs depth at key positions such as quarterback and defensive end in a bad way.
Securing the commitment of defensive end Greg McMullen (pictured) would do wonders for the class.
Getting his signature and those of the nation’s top prospects is going to take the aforementioned hard work that needs to get kick started today.
Recruiting isn’t a weekly thing for a coach.
It needs to be a daily thing.
Making the mistake of dismissing it at all would be a costly one.
10: Prove That the Investment Was Worth It
Bo’s salary is a large sum of money, but that’s what the big boys get paid.
Pelini is now one of the highest-paid coaches in college football though only third-highest in the Big Ten.
At the end of the day, is that chunk of change worth Pelini’s presence in Memorial Stadium’s offices?
The next year of Bo’s reign over the Cornhuskers will be very telling in terms of how much he’s learned about being the big man on campus.
Will he bring more hardware back to Lincoln or leave Husker fans saying “There’s always next season” one more time?
That’s a question that only a $2.7 million man can answer.
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