Bo Pelini, LSU Mutually Agree to Part Ways After 1 Season as DC

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 21, 2020

Youngstown State head coach Bo Pelini arrives at the Dakotadome before an NCAA college football game against South Dakota, in Vermillion, S.D., Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. Vermillion lies seven miles north of the Nebraska state line, an area deep within the Huskers’ sphere of influence, and fans were lying in wait. They haven’t forgotten Pelini’s signature sideline meltdowns, his dour demeanor and the leaked audio recordings of him ripping the fans and using vulgarities to describe the athletic director in his final meeting with players. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Nati Harnik/Associated Press

Bo Pelini lasted just one season as LSU's defensive coordinator, as the two sides mutually agreed to go their separate ways Monday.

Pelini addressed the matter in a statement:

"While this year has been challenging in many ways, the decision to return to LSU—a place that I love with many wonderful memories—is something that I'm thankful for. However, after meeting with Coach O and discussing the future of the program, we have mutually decided that it's best we part ways. I wish nothing but success for LSU, Coach O and the players that I thoroughly enjoyed coaching and getting to know this year. I was proud of how hard our team competed down the stretch, the way our young guys stepped up and were developing and the overall direction we were headed."

Brooks Kubena of The Advocate was the first to report that a split was expected.

In the press release, it was noted that the two sides agreed to a "financial settlement," with Pelini accepting a "one-time payment in lieu of liquidated damages detailed in his contract." It's not clear what the terms of the financial settlement were. Of note, though, Pelini's contract did include a hefty buyout:

Bryan Fischer @BryanDFischer

Bo Pelini's buyout is $4.6 million. Les Miles’ buyout wound up being just $4 million.

Brooks Kubena @BKubena

Ed Orgeron has been given a limited budget to restructure his staff, multiple sources said, and Pelini's near $5 million buyout will take up most of it. There is talk of other staff changes coming. https://t.co/2hPdZjiUe7

Ralph D. Russo @ralphDrussoAP

Bo Pelini got a three-year deal worth about $7 million total in March. https://t.co/bpU0FjtcPx

Those won't be the only changes on Ed Orgeron's staff as LSU cuts some costs after a season with significant revenue loss because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Per Kubena, "defensive line coach Bill Johnson is expected to retire and safeties coach Bill Busch will not return next season."

Pelini had replaced Dave Aranda, who took over as the head coach at Baylor ahead of the 2020 season.

It wasn't a good season for LSU's defense, which gave up 34.9 points and 492 yards per game. In Pelini's defense, he had an abbreviated offseason to transition the team from a 3-4 to 4-3 scheme. When key players like Kary Vincent and Tyler Shelvin opted out of the season—and Derek Stingley Jr. missed several games to injury—LSU's defense was further weakened.

A year removed from winning a national championship, LSU went just 5-5 in 2020. A big reason for that mediocre record was the defense's struggles.

Pelini, 53, served as the head coach at Nebraska for one game in 2003 and from 2008 through 2014, posting a 67-27 record. He was also LSU's defensive coordinator from 2005-07 and the head coach at FCS powerhouse Youngstown State from 2015-19.

As for LSU, the defensive coordinator vacancy will be an appealing one for potential candidates. Whether Orgeron is given the budget to make a splashy hire is another story altogether.


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