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MMQB: On Bo Pelini, and Managing Expectations

Pelini's out at Nebraska. Could the same thing happen in Happy Valley? Should it?

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

As many of you are likely aware, Nebraska announced yesterday that they were firing head football coach Bo Pelini after seven seasons at the helm of the Huskers football program. Pelini's career record was 67-27, and he was the winningest coach to ever have been fired after seven seasons; however, he never won a conference title--either in the Big 12 or the Big Ten--let alone led his team to compete for a national championship.*

On the long drive home from senior day in State College on Sunday, where I was not surprised to have witnessed a loss and a 6-6 regular season in James Franklin's inaugural season at the helm of Penn State, this news got me to thinking--would I condone this same action should Coach Franklin find himself with a similar mark at the conclusion of the 2020 regular season?

In many ways, we as Penn State football fans are spoiled. We've long had a storied and winning historical program, with celebrated teams in most decades of college football. Even amongst Joe Paterno's latter years running the program, when even his most ardent supporters must admit that the ship wasn't operating at full speed, the Nittany Lions won Big Ten titles in 2005 and 2008, and was a hairsbreadth away from competing for the national title.

That, then, is what I'll judge future success at Penn State by, and by that measure, I would support the firing of a head coach who, after seven years, did not win a conference title, and was not close to a national title. Expecting greatness in the first, or second, year of Franklin's tenure is faulty, in my opinion, with what this program has had to bear these past few years; but expecting at least one Big Ten title within his first five seasons, with the talent he is bringing in and the game he is talking, does not seem to be too much to ask.

My expectations for any head coach of the Penn State football program? At a minimum, a conference title once every four years (ie, one for every recruiting class), and be in the national title discussion for the same. Not to be out of the conference title hunt by the first week of November for most seasons, come 2016. No egregious off field issues, and continued success with APR, and graduating our student-athletes at the rate we've become accustomed.

What do you guys say? Would you be okay with the firing of a coach who, after seven years, hadn't won a conference title? Vote in the poll, and leave your thoughts in the comments below.

*Whether you agree or disagree with Pelini's firing (and Nebraska's place in the current national college football landscape), I encourage you to read Spencer Hall's take on why their AD was not crazy for firing him.