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Is it Time for Nebraska to Part With Bo Pelini?

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Is nine or ten wins a year enough for a coach to keep his job? That’s the big question facing Nebraska when it comes to coach Bo Pelini?

Under Pelini, the Cornhuskers are 51-21 and played in the Big Ten Championship last season.

However, Nebraska expects championships, and Pelini has failed to deliver. In last year’s Big Ten title game, the Cornhuskers were dominated by Wisconsin 70-31 and were defeated 45-31 by Georgia in the Capital One Bowl.

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The Cornhuskers have struggled on defense, and their recruiting hasn’t improved over the last five years. Nebraska has finished 40th or worse nationally in points allowed in three out of Pelini’s five seasons and ranked 90th against the run last year.

Although the audio tapes of Pelini’s rant are making the rounds this week, it’s not a huge factor in terms of job status. The embattled coach needs to be judged on the on-field results and trajectory of the program.

Is it Time for Nebraska to Part With Bo Pelini?

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Nebraska has a difficult decision to make with Bo Pelini. And this has nothing to do with the audio tapes released this week, as the decision about his future needs to be about what happens on the field. The Cornhuskers have won at least nine games in each of his five full seasons and played for the Big Ten title in 2012. However, the defense – Pelini’s specialty – has struggled, and recruiting isn’t getting any better. Is Nebraska as good of a job as it was in the 1990s? That’s certainly debatable. However, there are high expectations in Lincoln, and Pelini does not have a conference title. Looking ahead to 2014, Nebraska will be in an easier division, but quarterback Taylor Martinez is gone. Even though Pelini hasn’t been hitting nine or ten wins every year, if Nebraska doesn’t win the division title, I think the Cornhuskers will have a new coach roaming the sidelines next year.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
This is a loaded question due to bad timing and the many different angles to consider. First, Bo Pelini has led his team to three division titles and three conference championship games in six years. But he is abrasive and has treated a lot of people with disrespect (not unlike most head coaches). But the release of this inappropriately recorded post-game rant — following a win, mind you — reeks of resentment and petty immaturity. So if you are basing your opinions on Pelini's long-term future on some two-minute sound bite that took place two years ago, you are no more mature and out-of-context than the jilted fan who leaked the tape. If you think Pelini shouldn't be the head coach at Nebraska because he team choked away a 21-3 home lead against UCLA, his defense is horrendous, and he's lost at least four games in every season, then I'm listening. He has done good things with the talent he is bringing in but he also needs to take the blame for not bringing in top-25 talent. An amicable divorce and fresh start for both might be what's best for all parties involved.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
If it’s Nebraska’s choice, the Cornhuskers shouldn’t make a coaching change. Bo Pelini isn’t the world’s biggest charmer during the season, but not many coaches are. Still, he’s been around long enough to know better than to be dismissive of Tommie Frazier, and the leaked audio from two years ago is ugly. But both should be non-factors. As for on the field, the knee-jerk reaction to the UCLA game is as hotheaded as anything Pelini has ever done. Only nine teams in the country have won more games since Pelini took over in 2008. Only 16 teams have a better win percentage. On both of those lists, Nebraska is ahead of Florida State, Georgia, South Carolina and Wisconsin. The Cornhuskers have reached a conference championship game three times in five seasons. Nebraska hasn’t won any of them, and Pelini is short on statement wins. That’s reason to be disappointed, but hardly a reason to ditch a coach. Nebraska wasn’t satisfied with Frank Solich, either, and things so bad under Bill Callahan the Huskers needed to hire Pelini in the first place. However, if Pelini is really miserable at Nebraska, I wouldn’t blame him from trying his hand at a new stop. I’m sure a handful of programs would be glad to have him.

Mark Ross
Bo Pelini is 51-21 as Nebraska's head coach and despite winning consistently (at least nine wins in each of his first five seasons), he has seemed to worn out his welcome in Lincoln. While Pelini has certainly stuck his foot in his mouth or let his emotions get the best of him on more than one occasion, it's not like the bottom has dropped out for this Cornhuskers team either. Nebraska is 2-1 after three games, the exact same record it had at this point last season, with both losses coming to UCLA. The 2012 team went on to win 10 games and play for the Big Ten championship, goals that are still well within reach for this season. Pelini is 29-11 in Big Ten play in his tenure, so in my opinion now is not the time to consider a coaching change. Conference play opens for Big Red in October against Illinois. If the defense continues to struggle and the other issues persist into next month, then perhaps it's time to take a long look at where this program is headed.

Stephen Schindler (@SteveSchindler)
No. I know the UCLA loss and audio recording hurts Cornhusker fans, but be careful with this one. While I understand the expectations that come with coaching at Nebraska, a program that didn’t finish a single season out of the AP Top 25 from 1969-2001 and made 33 straight bowl appearances, I believe Pelini needs to be given a few more years as the program has been trending upward. Those calling for Pelini’s ouster are fair to point out his subpar recruiting classes, a lack of statement wins and disappointing defenses. While such points are valid, I would caution those at Nebraska charged with this decision to consider the simple truth that things could be much worse. Look at the slides experienced by other perennial top 25 powers like Texas, USC, Miami (Fla.), Auburn and Tennessee. Nebraska fans know better than anyone how quickly a program can go downhill. Pelini has brought the Cornhuskers out of the dark days of the Bill Callahan years, with five consecutive bowl appearances. While the past five years have been a far cry from the Osborne years, Nebraska has consistently been a top-20 program. Let’s see if he can win a quality bowl game this year and revisit the issue in January.

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