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More Opinions on Nebraska's Pelini, Pederson and Husker Talk

Here are some different people's perspectives on Nebraska's Coach Pelini and former Husker Pederson I've found while on the world wide web. Some great stuff here.

First of all I want to say how happy I am that Bo Pelini is the Huskers new coach. I am so stoked that Bo is the new head coach of my Huskers I could kiss Tom Osborne right on the mouth .As far as I am concerned this is the best news I have heard out of Huskerville since that idiot Steve Pederson passed on Bo the first time. I think Pelini is the perfect coach to bring NU back to where we were, a top 10 team. A team with swagger, a team that had a presence on the field, a team that other teams hate to play, a team they know they played 4 days later.

It was only four years ago, when Cornhuskers fans were pulling for Pelini to replace Frank Solich, who was fired after a 9-3 season in 2003.It was only four years ago that after Kansas State defeated us 38-9 in Lincoln, Pelini chased down Wildcats wind bag coach Bill Snyder at midfield and jumped his ass for running up the score. Imagine after four years of Callahan thinking that 38-9 was running up the score. This is the kind of coach NU needs.

"Guys were ready to run through a wall for him, he is such a great motivator. He'd print out cards with different quotes and leave them in their locker to fire up the defense before games, and when it came to X's and O's, he definitely had "it" This is a guy that actually knows how to make adjustments at half time. Definitely not the kind of defense Kevin Cosgrove was so fond of.

After Pelini annihilated Michigan State 17-3 in the Alamo Bowl, we were chanting "Bo, Bo" as he left the field.

In the end, it didn't matter. Steve Pederson had "other ideas.

Pelini said Nebraska AD Pederson "stopped talking" to him in the days leading up to the bowl game and, following the victory, Pederson didn't fly back to Lincoln with the team.

I quess Pederson eventually spoke with Pelini about the opening, but Pelini said it was clear he had no chance of landing the job.

"It was just a token interview," Pelini said. " (Pederson) brought me in because he had to bring me in. He told me I was being considered, but I don't think I ever was. He wanted to hire a name guy. He would've hired anybody that had a big name." That "big name" was Bill Callahan and as far as I am concerned the worst coach that could have been picked. Now is the time to make up for that mistake and Bo is the answer.

I can already hear the fanboys on the message boards complaining about TO’s search for the new head coach wasn’t intensive enough and not enough time was spent looking for "name" coaches. "We need a HC with experience as HC, we need a NFL guy ,we need a fat guy like Kansas ,we need a Brian Kelly or a Jim Grobe,bla bla bla". We don’t need any of those things. What we do need is Bo Pelini, and if you don’t believe that, be careful he might take you outside and beat the hell out of you. OK, now about the round-table questions:

Are you happy with the staff Bo Pelini seems to be assembling?

Hell yes, are you kidding me? These coaches are the best of both worlds. Guys that know what it is like to be a Husker, yet accomplished in their own coaching specialties. Guys like Ron Brown are exactly what we need to get this team back on track.

What do you think abut these guys from a recruiting perspective?

I have two words to say about recruiting, Tom Osborne. I think that Dr. Tom and Bo will be very successful in recruiting all over the USA. Kids in H.S. know about the history of the Big Red and they know about Bo,s successes at LSU,I am sure they will do fine.

How about from a coaching perspective?

We already know what we are getting from Bo as a coach and that is a hell of a lot better than we have had the last four years. It will be nice to see a coach that actually knows how to make adjustments at half time. BO is the new Bob Devaney-the Bofather.

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Are you happy with the staff Bo Pelini seems to be assembling?

The staff that Bo Pelini seems to be assembling at Nebraska seems to have a bit of everything. A little of this, a little of that.

Let’s start on offense: Shawn Watson represents continuity on offense, something both Bo Pelini and Tom Osborne seemed to have wanted on that particular side of the ball. Ted Gilmore represents a dedication to the recruiting system that was refined in Lincoln under Bill Callahan and the watchful eye of Tim Cassidy. Barney Cotton represents a desire to be a physical force on the offensive side of the ball, something the Cornhuskers seemed to be lacking the past four seasons. Ron Brown represents the dedication that Nebraska has to developing young men and not just top-notch athletes. He is a walking embodiment of the motto, “More than winning”.

On defense coach Pelini seems to be assembling a unique blend of youth and knowledge. Marvin Sanders represents a playmaking secondary, one that should be as brash as it is disciplined. John Papuchis represents a youthful exuberance on the recruiting trail, someone who seems on the verge of developing into one of the nation’s most feared recruiters. Mike Ekeler represents reckless abandon and high-effort, things that any successful defense will need in abundance. Ekeler also brings a wealth of special team knowledge with him to Lincoln. Carl Pelini, rumored to be named defensive coordinator, represents familiarity. He is someone that his brother can lean to and rely upon to be his eyes in the sky.

There seems to be a certain amount of unknown factors when it comes to a couple of these coaches, most notably Papuchis and Ekeler. Though there is also a great amount of trust between staff members when you begin talking about guys like the Pelini brothers, Sanders, Cotton and Brown. Another aspect that many are seemingly neglecting is that each of these coaches brought in by Bo Pelini realize what Cornhuskers football means to the great state of Nebraska. They have grown up in Nebraska, played for Cornhuskers or coached for the Big Red (or in some cases combinations of the aforementioned).

There are some potential concerns as well. Questions such as: Will Ted Gilmore look to jump on the next Greyhound out of town the next time that the NFL comes looking? Or will Ron Brown assert himself on coaches like Watson and Gilmore and convince them just how great an opportunity it is to remain in Lincoln, even if you are not yourself sitting in the big seat? Will Shawn Watson view Barney Cotton and Ron Brown as peers? Will he be susceptive of their advice and input in all matters offensively? I do see where there is the potential for a rift on that side of the ball, though I also believe that each of those coaches are professional enough to make it a working relationship.

I don’t see any of those issues or concerns on the defensive side of the ball. Every defensive coach should be lock step with what Bo Pelini wishes to accomplish defensively. There are some young bucks that will be learning from some very accomplished coaches. I like the chemistry that appears to be forming within the new defensive staff.

What do you think about these guys from a recruiting perspective?

Ron Brown has always been an above-average recruiter. His message and sincere approach to prospective recruits has always been an asset to the University of Nebraska. Families always seem to be assured that their youngsters are I good hands after a conversation with Brown. After a four year hiatus from coaching he should be invigorated and primed to make a difference on the recruiting circuit.

The two young guys that followed coach Pelini from Baton Rouge, John Papuchis and Mike Ekeler, bring a lot of energy to the recruiting aspect of things. Both guys have assembled eval tapes as well as broken down film with the likes of Bob Stoops and Bo Pelini. They know exactly what type of player that coach Pelini is looking for and they seem to be relating rather well to the current generation of high school prospects. Papuchis is particular seems to be a top-tier recruiter in the making.

Barney Cotton is more than able to reel in his fair share of recruits but he will never be confused with Dennis Wagner in the living room. Marvin Sanders has a very infectious personality and kids seem to be drawn to him but he has lacked the will to recruit at times in the past. He’s always going to be a lot better on official visits to Lincoln than he is on the road. Carl Pelini has some Ohio and Pennsylvania contacts that could prove invaluable over time to the Nebraska recruiting efforts.

Shawn Watson and Ted Gilmore are obviously well known for their recruiting prowess. Gilmore has become the linchpin as far as closing out the 2008 recruiting class. He has been instrumental in gathering background information on each prospect and relaying that to coach Pelini in such a short amount of time. Gilmore has also coordinated the efforts as to what staff member goes where, if not for him the Cornhuskers would be in a lot of trouble right now. The guy has done a tremendous job. Watson has been working on building a lot of relationship in both Nebraska and the heartland region in general that had been severed or strained throughout the Callahan era.

Nebraska seems to be adhering to the Tim Cassidy recruiting system. Cornhusker fans should be ecstatic about this as this formula has been quite successful over the past four years. Now there will be tweaks made as kids will be pitched on the merits of the University of Nebraska and what our programs, both academically and athletically, can offer them rather than how it can simply be a bridge to their NFL dreams. We will begin to see an influx of kids who want to play for Nebraska instead of simply at Nebraska. That’s a culture that this great school should never have been allowed to lose.

How about from a coaching perspective?

Again, I will begin on the offensive side of the ball: Shawn Watson was handcuffed at times under former head coach Bill Callahan, who was the de facto offensive coordinator. Now that Watson should be given free reign over the offensive system and be allowed to call plays I suspect that we will see an offense that has multiple facets. Equal part spread offense, timing-based short/intermediate passing game and power running schemes. We can probably also expect some semblance of the quarterback running game.

Watson has done some fine work in readying both Sam Keller and Joey Ganz this past season. From all accounts Pat Witt is also ahead of schedule in terms of his development. I think that this was very much a known commodity and his retention for 2008 should bode well for the quarterbacks that we have in our system.

Teddy Gilmore has had some questionable success developing receivers while at Nebraska. Todd Peterson, Nate Swift and Terrence Nunn have improved under his watch, though many may argue that they have also leveled off. It remains to be seen what he is able to do with raw talents such as Meno Holt, Will Henry, Niles Paul and Curenski Gilleylen. The wide receiver corps at Nebraska is arguably the deepest in school history, so Gilmore will have a full cupboard in which to work with in 2008.

Ron Brown has a long track record taking tight ends to the next level. Todd Millikan, Johnny Mitchell, Sheldon Jackson, Tracey Wistrom and Matt Herian are simply a few of the talents that Brown has developed for the Cornhuskers. Brown is also one of the greatest cultivators of men at the collegiate level. His experiences, both in life and athletics, will aid him in his second go round in Lincoln. He has the ability to teach a tight end sound blocking technique as well as how to gain separation over the middle of the football field and create space in the red zone. Coach Brown is as demanding in practice as he is on game day, never allowing one of his charges to give less than maximum effort.

Barney Cotton will instill a mean streak in the offensive line. The days of hitting high and hard in practices are now a thing of the past. Coach Cotton not only preaches toughness and aggression but also walks that line himself. It is not out of the norm to witness Cotton to drop down in a three-point stance in practice to teach technique to a young lineman in full pads, himself without the benefit of any safety equipment. Barney talks tough and walks even tougher. He not only expects his offensive linemen to be dominant but he wants them to do so with an attitude, a swagger that has been long missing from the bowls of Memorial Stadium. And how could anyone talk about Barney Cotton without quoting the famous, "When we get inside that 10 yard line, that's our f%^&ing piece of real estate!!!” What more could you ask for in an o-line coach?

If there is one thing that Nebraska fans can be assured of on the offensive side of the ball under this staff it is that a player who does not give maximum effort in both practice and games will not see the field under these coaches watch. The Cornhuskers will be a physical football team, hell bent on administering their will on their opponent week in and week out.

Many naysayers would have you believe that Carl Pelini is nothing more than an updated case of nepotism manifesting itself on the sidelines of Memorial Stadium. Quite the contrary, you see Carl has been coaching up the defensive line at Ohio under Frank Solich rather well. His charges have accounted for roughly two-thirds of the sacks that the Bobcat defense has amassed over the past couple of seasons. Carl worked with the defensive ends at Nebraska in 2003 as a graduate assistant prior to taking the defensive coordinator job at Minnesota State-Mankato in 2004 where he engineered the best turnaround in Division II. Carl has also coached prep ball in both Kansas City and Ohio, which should further help recruiting in those Midwestern talent hotbeds. And after all the Bob Stoops/Mike Stoops setup worked fairly well in Norman, let’s hope the updated version of Bo Pelini/Carl Pelini turns out just as good up in Lincoln.

Marvin Sanders returns to Lincoln presumably to coach the secondary at Nebraska. He has long been a proponent of ball-hawking defensive backs who takes risks, albeit calculated ones. At each stop Marvin seems to get his d-backs to play with swagger and confidence, and the turnover numbers always seem to swing in their favor. Attack, attack, attack will be the mantra. Instead of reacting to receivers we will begin to see our cornerbacks play a physical style and our safety’s fly to the ball. Besides possessing the ability to teach sound technique coach Sanders also draws players into his inner circle and gains their trust and respect. This enables Sanders to ride these kids in practice, demanding perfection. Marvin also has a wealth of experience in all levels of the defense, so he should be instrumental in bringing along the younger Mike Ekeler and John Papuchis.

We also must talk about energy and effort. Mike Ekeler is a high energy guy who was a special teams dynamo while at Kansas State. And he obviously is from the Pelini/Stoops school of defense as when you start talking defense he talks about that magic word, effort. As Ekeler said, “One thing that people will be able to see about our defense is that will be pure effort all the time. We are going to run multiple formations, but still keep things simple.” Mike from all reports relates well to the collegiate players and he has been instrumental to coach Pelini as an intern. Ekeler has also been a defensive coordinator under former Nebraska assistant Jeff Jamrog. Some question whether he is ready for a full-time coaching position at a place at Nebraska, to which I would ask: Do you entrust the defense to Bo Pelini and his track record of turning around things on that side of the ball in record time? If the answer is yes, which I imagine it is, then some patience is probably in store as Mike Ekeler comes into his own.

John Papuchis has worked with both linebackers and the secondary while performing a graduate assistant stint at Kansas and in a support role at LSU. He played for legendary defensive coordinator Bud Foster at Virginia Tech. He brings a strong scouting background to the fold, something that will help in the defensive game-planning as he tracked tendencies for coach Pelini the past three seasons in Baton Rouge. Papuchis seems to be slated to either coaching defensive tackles and working with Carl Pelini or coaching safeties and learning at the feet of Marvin Sanders. Either way how could you go wrong? You get a dose of youthful energy and unwavering commitment to coach Pelini.

Most importantly I think that this staff brings a proven track record of possessing the ability to motivate and develop young men that they have been entrusted with. They are a group of highly driven individuals whose greatest asset may very be the sum of their part. Each brings something unique to the table, a trait that this program will greatly benefit from. Overall they are a great bunch of teachers, the one trait that Bo Pelini seemed to harp on when asked what he would be looking for when assembling his staff.

There is also a great amount of character on this staff. This is spearheaded by our fearless leader, Bo Pelini, who made some promises to a few of these coaches back in 2003 and kept his word four years later. That is a trait of a native Nebraskan if I ever heard one, a trait that belongs to our adopted son. This staff gets what it means to play for Nebraska. They get what it means to play a physical brand of football. They get what it means to show effort and strive each day to better than they were the previous one. They understand why Nebraska is the greatest football factory in the history of the collegiate game - even if they are biased.

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Are you happy with the staff Bo Pelini seems to be assembling?

I am fairly happy with Bo Pelini's staff. It is not a surprise at all that he choses to work with people he is comfortable with and has worked with before. Its not like he is going to be able to raid the LSU defensive staff or anything like that. Marvin Sanders is very well respected as a defensive backs coach and the players love him by all accounts. Offensively the only thing I would be leery of is the hire of Barney Cotton as offensive line coach, although I suspect he will show vast improvement over the last few years as far as running the football goes. Finally, to see Ron Brown back on the Husker sidelines makes me very happy. He is such a great guy and a fantastic coach. For all of these guys to come back to Nebraska truly shows their dedication to this football program. I think fans should be very happy to see what these guys can do this coming season and two or three seasons down the road.

What do you think abut these guys from a recruiting perspective?

From a recruiting perspective, it is hard to know what each guy brings to the table. However, the holdovers of Watson and Gilmore should help in recruiting. These two coaches are fairly respected as excellent recruiters.

How about from a coaching perspective?

From a coaching standpoint, I see nothing but good things. Since this staff has many members from the 2003 season, we know they can coach defense and really get the most out of the talent that they do have. The players will really bust their rear ends for this coaching staff. This will be a welcome change from the past four seasons.

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Are you happy with the staff Bo Pelini seems to be assembling?

I am pretty happy with the staff Coach Pelini is putting together. I like the mix of former Husker coaches and players with some of the current coaches combined with some others from outside the program. I had hoped that Shawn Watson and Ted Gilmore would be retained if any of the previous staff was. Watson is a proven offensive coordinator and has coached some very proficient offenses in the past. In addition, he isn’t solely a WCO guy as he has ran some spread in the past and is not opposed to it as he has stated. Ted Gilmore, I believe, is a very good receivers coach. I expressed this past week some concern about him being replaced by Ron Brown as Gilmore had experience coaching big time receivers in passing offenses where as Brown was a good coach in the past for receivers who were good down field blockers in Nebraska’s old option offense. Brown will be a very good source for inspiration and motivation for our players. Very much like the idea of having Marvin Sanders back coaching the defensive backfield as he and Pelini work very well together and our defense needs them badly. Like the idea of having Cotton back coaching our offensive line. He is a decent line coach with plenty of experience and should be able to help Watson as he has OC experience in offenses that I would consider spread offenses. The staff is still taking shape and may certainly change in the near and distant future but it seems to be looking pretty good at this point.

What do you think abut these guys from a recruiting perspective?

As far as these coaches’ recruiting ability, I am not as concerned about it as I was about our previous staff’s. Recruiting has obviously been over rated by the past staff. I am more of the belief now that it is more important to have good x’s and o’s coaches who have the ability to instill playing for pride into players and being good motivators. The Huskers of old never had the best recruiting classes. The players played for Husker pride and for their coaches and that outweighed the 4 and 5 star recruits they faced quite often. We will still get quality players to come here. Running a spread/WCO mix will draw in the high quality players who want to play at the next level as NU is a high profile place to play and the quality defensive staff lead by the head coach will draw quality defensive players. I see these coaches getting more kids that want to be Huskers and that may be as important as how many stars a kid has.

How about from a coaching perspective?

From a coaching perspective, it appears as though Coach Pelini is surrounding himself with people who he knows or believes are good coaches. All have very good experience and are well liked by players. Are they all household names? Maybe not. But I don’t think they have to be if they can instill playing for Husker pride, playing for each other and a desire to play and win for their coaches.

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Are you happy with the staff Bo Pelini seems to be assembling?

I am very happy with the new staff as it’s developing, and am more than a little tired of hearing people carping about there being a “family reunion” underway at the Osborne Complex. Since when is having served a stint as an assistant coach at Nebraska anything but a résumé enhancement? I think we saw all too clearly how steep the cultural learning curve is for coaches with limited prior knowledge or experience of the somewhat ephemeral and indefinable “Nebraska Way”. More is expected here, pure and simple - MUCH more. While prior experience as a player or coach at NU isn’t by any means a prerequisite for success, it most certainly is a distinct advantage in confronting, accepting, meeting, and exceeding those expectations.

It is amusing just how substantive the “style points” demanded by the Big Red faithful truly are. Tough, physical play, fighting the good fight – everything the rules allow right up to the whistle, every play, every game, every year; these are all components of the “Nebraska Way” that many of us believe are largely a matter of style. Most places, those qualities are the steak, not the sizzle, and therein lies one of the fundamental differences between the Huskers and everyone else. Here, that hard-nosed, never-say-die, you-may-beat-me-but-you’ll-pay-dearly-for-it style of play is simply the way things are, not only expected, but until recently, taken almost wholly for granted as class after class, squad after squad, generation after generation of Nebraska football players exemplified and celebrated it with unparalleled consistency. It was so fully ingrained that it was literally woven into the very identity of the team. Here, the Xs and Os are the hard part, because the physicality will take care of itself.

This is the sort of football Bo Pelini represents, proof positive that Nebraska hasn’t cornered the market on it, though nowhere else is it so institutionalized as to be a genuine cultural touchstone as it is in Lincoln. Bo is a football guy, through and through – he gets it, because he LIVES it, and he’s seeking to surround himself with assistant coaches who understand the sheer Joy and fun of a knock-down, drag-out brawl, and the value of your boys simply having more fight in them than their opponents.

Starting from the “outside”, you have “the survivors”, Shawn Watson and Ted Gilmore, purportedly NU’s Offensive Coordinator and receivers’ coach, respectively. They’ve faced Nebraska in its more vintage form while coaching at Colorado, and served through the toughest patch in recent Husker history under the previous regime. I think they understand pretty well what’s brewing in Lincoln under Pelini – which is probably the main reason they’ll be around in 2008.

Then there are the two young `uns with Big Eight/Twelve experience by way of Loiusiana State, Mike Ekeler and John Papuchis. Mike Ekeler, born in Blair, Nebraska, certainly knows Nebraska football from the receiving end, as a player at K-State in Bill Snyder’s early years. He’s also served under former Husker player and coach Jeff Jamrog as his defensive coordinator at Minnesota State - Mankato. He’s a disciple of Bo Pelini, and while NU might be his first stint as a full-time D1 assistant coach, his pedigree fits the job description, and his boss thinks he’s ready – good enough for me.

John Papuchis is a little less seasoned than Ekeler, but also comes from pretty impressive stock, having learned “Beamer Ball” at Virginia Tech under Hokie DC Bud Foster, serving as a GA at Kansas, and basically being one of Pelini’s “go-to” guys at LSU. Bo sees him as an up-and-comer who can fit in almost anywhere on the defensive side of the ball. There have been some rumblings and grumblings about allegations of recruiting improprieties by Papuchis while at KU, but if neither Bo Pelini nor Tom Osborne felt they were disqualifiers, then I don’t see the problem.

Carl Pelini was a GA at NU in 2003, has coached at the high school level in the Midwest, and played his college ball at Youngstown State – so he knows something about hard-nosed football and the success that descends from it. He’s been at Ohio, coaching under Frank Solich for the last two seasons, another source of insight into the “Nebraska Way".

Barney Cotton and Marvin Sanders offer the unique perspective of having played and coached at Nebraska. Cotton will preach “smashmouth” as well as quickness to an NU offensive line that has seemed as far removed from “The Pipeline” as Spam is to Prime Rib. Marvin Sanders will bring greed back into vogue in the NU secondary, where picks have been far too few and far too long in between the last several years. No one need wonder whether these two coaches “get it” because they helped make “it” as players and coaches. They’ll hit the ground running and bring a sense of purpose and the weight of tradition to their charges.

What do you think abut these guys from a recruiting perspective?

You know, after four years of hearing how vitally imperative recruiting is, being told that the number of four- and five-star recruits brought in was directly proportional to Nebraska’s future success, and watching it deliver very seldom on the field, I am frankly sick to death of the breathless discussion of it. First of all, the ratings are compiled by services who are paid for their ratings. These services seek to create “buzz” about high school players, through methods and evaluation processes that are wildly variable and often biased by their personal relationships with both high school and college coaches. The last four years of Nebraska recruits probably ranked far more highly than any four-year stretch since ratings debuted, and the team’s success on the field had never been in shorter supply.

Consider how many of Bill Callahan’s “blue chip” high school recruits ended up leaving the program before making any significant contributions. Of what value is a top-five rated recruiting class if the attrition rate approaches 70 percent – between the recruits that transfer out, suffer injury, or simply never pan out. I’ve never seen as much “dead wood” drift out of a Nebraska squad as I saw lope across Tom Osborne field this last Senior Day. Wasted scholarships, (over a $100,000 expenditure per player over a 4-year career), along with almost uniformly dismal efforts on the field in 2007, have taken quite a lot of the luster off of Callahan and staff’s recruiting efforts, so forgive me if I am not overly impressed.

Having said that, I should note that obtaining a signature on a letter-of-intent and a valid enrollment at NU are only the first two steps in the recruiting process. In my opinion, the far more important aspect is the recognition of what a kid CAN become as a college football player, rather than what MADE him a fine high school player. Here is where I believe that this staff will make their predecessors look like pretenders, and do it with the product on the field.

Barney Cotton will not have a template that would exclude an offensive lineman because of his height or length of his arms, or 40 time. Ron Brown will make tight ends that block like guards or run like deer effective and viable weapons in NU’s passing game. Bo Pelini will look more at a kid’s desire and intensity than his measurables. Marvin Sanders will find difference makers in the secondary, wringing physicality and ferocity out of a bunch that has been all too passive the last 4 years. Shawn Watson will adjust his offensive attack to fit his offensive players’ strong points, just as he did as OC at Colorado, and just as he wasn’t allowed to do as the “sort of” OC at NU under Callahan.

You won’t see “star” ratings put ahead of an NU coach’s gut instincts and personal evaluations. You won’t see NU stacked 5- and 6- deep at quarterback and wideouts while having to mine JUCOs for defensive linemen and defensive backs every year, and you’ll see Nebraska taken as a serious recruiting region once again.

You get the idea.

How about from a coaching perspective?

Simply stated, this staff will COACH. Football is a physical game, and the skills, reflexes, and timing of it can’t be learned by playing patty-cake during practice. Look for Bo’s first spring and fall camps to be VERY rude awakenings to players accustomed to “wrap high” tackling drills and sham spring games under the last staff. The best things in life are worth some suffering to achieve, and championship football is certainly no exception. Some of the kids too cognizant of their high school “star” ratings will probably fall by the wayside, and some blue-chips will be looking up the depth chart at some grayshirt from Schuyler, and another Makovicka might actually carry the ball from the fullback position.

Bo Pelini’s players play HARD for him; it’s been true at every school where he’s coached, from Nebraska to LSU and back again. Look for this passion to be on display on BOTH sides of the ball at NU in 2008, because Pelini has surrounded himself with passionate coaches who will demand the very best out of their players, especially in terms of effort.

We could run through each and every position and predict the effect each new coach will have on the under-developed, under-achieving returnees from 2007, but the more important factors will be universal on the NU squad. They’ll play with Joy, reveling in the sheer love of the game, and the satisfaction in a job well done and nothing left on the field.

Nebraska will be a physical presence again, punishing their opponents, win or lose. The Blackshirts will earn back and then live up to their legacy; I believe it will be the most damning indictment of Kevin Cosgrove’s abilities as a defensive coordinator and his defensive staff’s abilities to develop young players when this NU defense ranks toward to top of the conference in every category in 2008, and be recognized on the national scene. Look for a defensive front four that you won’t even recognize right away come August 30, 2008.

Look for an offense where there isn’t a glorified guard lined up at fullback, where big, slow quarterbacks need not apply, and where a receiver who hesitates to go across the middle will find himself enjoying the view from the sideline.

Look for responsibility to be taken and for excuses to be conspicuous by their absence.

Look for Nebraska to finally be Nebraska again.

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Are you happy with the staff Bo Pelini seems to be assembling?

When I wrote this, I was relying on an LJS blog for information about who will be on the staff. Only Barney Cotton and Ron Brown had been officially announced. But what I saw on the blog looks good to me. A decent mix of guys with a strong background in traditional Husker football, guys who come from outside the program, and who may bring some new approaches, and a couple of guys who have established relationships with the existing players. They all seem to have solid backgrounds.

I don’t have many worries stemming from the specific stats that were associated with the individual coaches at prior coaching jobs. That’s because they were all part of teams-within-teams when they coached at other schools. They can’t take sole credit for what occurred on the field and they can’t be assigned sole blame. As they meld together into a new staff with new dynamics and new players in a new setting, the numbers produced at other schools where they were on staff will have progressively less relevance to what is going to happen at NU.

I’m most curious about how this new team-within-a-team will mesh for the Cornhuskers. If the chemistry is right, then there’s no reason to be anything but happy with the staff.

What do you think about these guys from a recruiting perspective?

There’s no reason to think this staff won’t do well in recruiting, either. They‘re selling an exciting product to the kids they visit. It’s hard to grade a staff on the subject of recruiting without time in the seat; time to learn what kinds of athletes and citizens they have recruited. After the kids live in the community, get some effective S & C work, pay some dues, and take the field, we’ll know what to think. Personally, I don’t tend to hang my hat on the ratings services because they are so self-serving, and because a “five-star” recruit who gets busted, can’t make grades, doesn’t live up to expectations or transfers to another school can be worse than a non-commit. To me, a key will be finding kids who really yearn to be Cornhuskers. I’m confident the staff will trust their own judgments about who and where to recruit, and the re-emphasis of in-state recruiting is already showing up.

How about from a coaching perspective?

I’m willing to bet that these guys will do a heck of a job in the actual task of coaching-up the kids. They‘ve done good work at their prior positions, and will have great facilities, firm support from the Athletic Department, and a fan base that is among the most staunchly supportive in the country. I’m ready to assume that they’ll work well together, restore energy and fire to the team, take advantage of existing talent, recruit players who want to be Huskers, and perform their jobs with the same zeal they have elsewhere. When they do, we’ll see a much-improved team, year over year, as the Huskers move back to prominence.

Wow, that was a lot of Husker discussion! Please feel free to comment and react on what is being said here. Can't wait for the 2008 football season!!!

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