Bob Stoops and Bo Pelini.
You have to admit, if you examine the similarities, it gets eerie.
But let me start from the beginning.
Both men grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, and graduated from the same high school, Cardinal Mooney High (Stoops in 1978, Pelini in 1986).
Both men were defensive players in the secondary for Big Ten schools (Stoops at Iowa, Pelini at Ohio State), where both men got marketing degrees.
Both men began their coaching careers as graduate assistants at Iowa under Hayden Fry, several years apart.
After Iowa, Stoops coached in college football as a defensive coach under Bill Snyder at Kansas State and under Steve Spurrier at Florida. Then Stoops was hired as the head coach at the University of Oklahoma in 1999.
After Iowa, Pelini coached quarterbacks at Cardinal Mooney for a season, then started a successful coaching stint in the NFL with the 49ers (two years, and Super Bowl XXIX victory), Patriots (three years) and Packers (three years). Then Pelini was defensive coordinator under Frank Solich at Nebraska in 2003.
Solich was fired at the end of that season and most speculated Nebraska would offer the head coach job to Pelini. We should have, but at the time we had a moron as an athletic director who passed over Pelini and hired Bill Callahan.
So Pelini coached with Stoops at Oklahoma in 2004 as co-defensive coordinator. Then he spent two years as Les Miles' defensive coordinator at LSU. Nebraska cleaned house of Pederson (athletic director) and Callahan (head coach) and Tom Osborne, interim athletic director, offered him the head coach job.
Both men got their first head coaching jobs at Big 12 schools.
Oklahoma had endured the worst stretch in its storied history, going 12-22 in three consecutive losing seasons under John Blake, before hiring Stoops in 1999.
Nebraska had suffered through one of the most frustratingly bad stretches in its storied history, going a dismal 27-22 in four seasons (two losing seasons) under Bill Callahan (not to mention blatant murder of many traditions), before hiring Pelini in 2008.
Stoops used his younger brother, Mike, as co-defensive coordinator on his staff at Oklahoma. Pelini currently has his older brother, Carl, as the defensive coordinator on his staff at Nebraska.
Both men are defensive-minded and came into programs with defenses that had exceptional struggles.
Oklahoma went 7-5 under Stoops his first season with their first bowl appearance in four years, then won the National Championship the very next year in 2000.
Nebraska should finish 8-4 this year if nothing goes wrong the next couple of weeks. We're already bowl eligible after missing the cut two of the last four years.
With all of their similarities, could Pelini guide Nebraska back into the hunt for the National Championship next season like Stoops did at Oklahoma?
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