Monday, June 01, 2020

FBS Coordinators Who Could Become Head Coaches Again: Bo Pelini

I write about trends in college athletics

May 27, 2020, 08:00am EDT

Former Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini will serve as defensive coordinator this season at LSU, where he coached from 2005-07. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Bo Pelini never won fewer than nine games in any of his seven seasons at Nebraska.
In the five seasons since his 2014 firing, the Cornhuskers have won more than six games once. They went from failing to win “the games that mattered most” – one of athletic director Shawn Eichorst’s stated reasons for firing Pelini – to failing to win many games at all.
Maybe this Pelini guy can coach a bit – and he’s adamant that he can still win consistently at the highest level.
“If somebody wants to win, they should call me,” Pelini said in a recently published profile in Sports Illustrated.
In the meantime, he is back coaching at college football’s highest level after a five-year stint coaching in his hometown at FCS-level Youngstown State. LSU coach Ed Orgeron pursued Pelini to fill his defensive coordinator vacancy when Dave Aranda bolted for a head coaching position at Baylor.
If Pelini, 52, produces the way he did in his first stint in Baton Rouge – as Les Miles’ defensive coordinator from 2005-07, Pelini led his units to top-three national finishes in total defense each year – he will get another opportunity to lead a program.

Sure, there will be questions about his fiery temperament, but coaches with worse behavior on their rap sheets have been given second chances at the FBS level. Pelini simply needs to get results in the SEC once again, whenever college football returns, and he will resume fielding head coaching offers. After all, the only FBS coaches to win at least nine games each year between 2008 and 2014, the years Pelini was Nebraska’s coach, were Pelini and Alabama’s Nick Saban.

Pelini is not the only former head coach who is in the middle of a redemption project at a major program. While his tour through the FCS was a bit unorthodox, it is not at all unusual to see a fired head coach serve his time as a coordinator, indicate he deserves another shot and then actually get one.
Think Lane Kiffin and Mike Locksley at Alabama. Or Karl Dorrell’s multiple stops between a 2003-07 stint at UCLA and his recent hiring as Colorado’s head coach. Or even Pelini’s current boss wandering through the wilderness between his 2007 ouster at Ole Miss and his becoming LSU’s coach, first on an interim basis and later as full-time head coach in 2016.

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