I realize that the Big 12 coach of the year award has already been handed out, and Bo was not even in the top three, as Mike Leech of Texas Tech was the winner and fellow in state coach Mac Brown finished second and Bob Stoops was third. But come on now shouldn’t a coach that took a team that finished 5-7 to an eight win season and a New Year’s Day bowl game get some love?
For the record, not counting bowl games obviously Texas went 11-1 this season, Texas Tech is 11-1 and Oklahoma is 12-1. For Texas and Oklahoma, that is a one game improvement, while Texas Tech has a two game improvement over last season’s win total.
So the media considers a two-game improvement from a program that was already a winner (nine wins in 2007), and a one game improvement more worthy of the coach of the year award over a first year head coach, taking a losing record and posting a three game improvement, plus a bowl bid. I need to know the exact criteria on that.
Pelini had to take a team, which not only had a losing record, but a losing mentality and build it back up. He also had to do it with players that all came from the previous coach’s recruiting classes. With all of the baggage that comes with that.
Pelini took a bunch of overweight, participation optional players and got them into shape. He ran multiple hour conditioning drills last spring to run off those who might have been trouble makers to make sure he had players who were buying into his plan.
Pelini and his staff also revamped a defensive that was, terrible last season and transformed basically the same players into a respectable unit. He also “tweaked” the offense to make it more of a ball control unit that led the nation in time of possession.
Pelini has shown that he can always learn that he isn’t a closed minded type. After trying to make his offense something it wasn’t, they went in and readjusted things. He modified his offensive plan to actually meet the talent that was in place. That is coaching.
Maybe the best thing this coaching staff is able to accomplish that the previous one was severely lacking in, is being able to make in game adjustments. I can’t even count the number of games over the previous four years where teams would see a weakness and attack it for the entire game, with the staff either unwilling or unable to adjust to it.
A look at the scoring by quarters and you see the results. The Huskers were outscored by 15 points in the first quarter and then by 25 in the third quarter. However we outscored our opponents by 40 points in the second quarter and a mind-blowing 100 points in the fourth and final quarter.
Bo would go for the jugular in the fourth quarter and more times than not, his team would respond and get the win.
To me these are the traits that make a coach of the year candidate, someone that can adapt, and someone who can win in a difficult situation. Bum Phillips once said, “A good coach is one who can take his team and beat yours, and then take your team and beat his.”
I believe that this is a trait that Bo Pelini has and is the reason he was able to turn this year’s Husker’s around, whether he got an award for it or not. GBR!