Penn State Coaching Search: Bo Pelini

Today marks Day 43 of the coaching search. Sometimes I can't tell if it's been 430 days though, as the information vacuum has been the most conspicuous aspect of the search, not the presence of any name in particular. One of the few names that has leaked, surprisingly enough, was that of current Nebraska head coach Mark "Bo" Pelini. Pelini's name was floated by David Jones of the Patriot-News, who says that Pelini initiated contact with Penn State, and that he had confirmation of such from two different sources. Both Pelini and Nebraska AD Tom Osborne have denied that any contact has taken place.

However, since we don't have much else to do, let's take a closer look at Bo Pelini, and whether he'd be a fit here at Penn State.

Head Coaching Record

Year Record Conf. Record
2003 1-0 -
2008 9-4 5-3
2009 10-4 6-2
2010 10-4 6-2
2011 9-3 5-3
Overall 39-15 22-10

Not too shabby.

Coaching Experience

Pelini played safety at Ohio State, but began his coaching career as a grad assistant at Iowa under Hayden Fry. After a one year stint as a QB coach at Cardinal Mooney in Youngstown, OH, Bo spent the next nine seasons in the NFL with the 49ers, Patriots and Packers as a defensive position coach. In 2003, he joined Frank Solich's staff at Nebraska as the defensive coordinator. Despite winning nine games that year, Pelini, along with the rest of the staff, were shown the door when Nebraska fired Solich and hired Bill Callahan (LOLOLOLOLOL).

Pelini's first departure from Lincoln may have been the best thing that happened to him during his coaching career, as he parlayed his year with the Huskers a year at Oklahoma as the co-defensive coordinator, and then into the defensive coordinator job at LSU under Les Miles. In Pelini's three years in Baton Rouge, the Tigers defense was ranked no worse than third in the nation in total defense.

In 2008, Pelini was hired as the head coach at Nebraska by the new athletic director, Tom Osborne. Osborne took over for the always amazing Steve Pederson, whose coaching hires, between Nebraska and Pitt, include Bill Callahan, Mike Haywood and Todd Graham.

Statistical Breakdown

Here's how Pelini's offenses and defenses have performed since he's taken over in Lincoln. The offense...

Year Total Offense (yds/game) Rank Scoring Offense (pts/game) Rank Offensive S&P+ Rank
2008 450.8 12 35.4 17 119.9 18
2009 322.8 99 25.1 75 93.5 84
2010 398.1 44 30.9 38 105.0 47
2011 390.5 59 30.5 42 107.6 48

...And the defense.

Year Total Defense (yds/game) Rank Scoring Defense (yds/game) Rank Defensive S&P+ Rank
2008 349.8 55 28.5 81 108.8 41
2009 271.3 7 10.4 1 149.7 4
2010 306.8 11 17.4 9 124.6 11
2011 350.7 36 22.8 36 120.6 17

Fit - Cultural, Personal, Etc.

The pros: Experienced head coach, excellent defensive coach, has never lost more than four games in a season, is still young (44 years old).

The cons: He's a bit of an asshole. If Penn State wants the football program to be easier to deal with, I'm not sure Bo Pelini is the best guy to lead the team. I don't get upset about coaches yelling and screaming on the sideline, but sometimes Pelini crosses the line between what's acceptable and what isn't. His handling of quarterback Taylor Martinez also raises a very significant eyebrow. Admittedly, Martinez and his father seem like they can be a royal pain in the ass when they're unhappy, but the questions remain. He also coaches at a conference rival, and making an intra-conference coaching switch may be a bit too nicht nicht for him. (Also, if I can be completely honest for a second, his commitment to crew neck sweatshirts is more than a little disconcerting. Just a wack, wack look, man.)

The fact that Pelini's name was even brought up really begs the question: Would he really leave Nebraska, a job that he long coveted? The one thing that I could think of that may factor into his decision would be recruiting. Nebraska's lifeblood in the Big 12 was its Texas recruiting pipeline. Since they joined the Big Ten, Husker coaches can no longer tell Texas kids that they'll be playing in front of their friends in family every year, and without that carrot, the kids won't keep coming. It's still too early to tell if that recruiting source has gone dry on them completely, but it's something to consider.

So. Bo Pelini. I don't think it'll happen, nor do I really want it to, but what do we think?

Our previous profiles:

Al Golden, Miami HC

Dan Mullen, Mississippi State HC

Tom Bradley, Penn State Interim HC

Tim Murphy, Harvard HC

Mike Munchak, Tennessee Titans (NFL) HC

Mark Richt, Georgia HC

Greg Schiano, Rutgers HC

David Shaw, Stanford HC

Chris Petersen, Boise State HC

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