Bo Pelini has Huskers on the right path 

February, 18, 2011

I hadn't checked the old blog inbox for a while, so I went in there Thursday to mix in a few of those questions with others that I received on Twitter for this week's mailbag. Here's what we've got:

From Josh in Elk Grove, Calif.: Considering Bo Pelini's borderline defiant behavior this offseason (refusing to discuss recruits on signing day, refusing to discuss staff changes even after everyone knew they were coming, etc.), what future (if any) does he have beyond coaching the Nebraska Cornhuskers? And, more importantly, how do you think this new defiance is playing with his constituency in Lincoln?

There's no doubt that some pressure has begun to mount. But Pelini is definitely not on the hot seat or anything close to it. He's won 20 games the past two seasons, he's one of the sharpest defensive minds in the nation, and his brand of football feels like a much more natural fit in Lincoln than his predecessor Bill Callahan's was.

However, there is a general vibe that the program probably did a "two steps forward, two steps back" maneuver over the past three months. The 2010 season ended on a very sour note for the Cornhuskers, and Pelini in particular. Winning 10 games probably shouldn't be cast as a disappointment, but considering where the team was at midseason -- ranked in the top 10, sparked by a potent offense engineered by a dynamic freshman quarterback in Taylor Martinez -- you had the feeling that Nebraska had a good chance to win the Big 12, get to a BCS bowl and then ride off to the Big Ten primed to challenge the Ohio State Buckeyes, Pelini's alma mater.

Things really fizzled from that point forward, however (describing it as a meltdown might be more accurate). Martinez was banged up and playing poorly as a result, and there were all sorts of rumors swirling about Pelini's dealings with Martinez and the QB's father. And on several occasions, it appeared as though Pelini's intensity had boiled over on the sidelines.