Bo Pelini — 9-3 at Nebraska this season, and 66-27 since taking over as coach in 2008 — was fired by the school on Sunday morning.
“Earlier this morning, I informed Coach Bo Pelini of our decision to move forward in a new direction,” athletic director Shawn Eichorst said in a statement. “Coach Pelini served our university admirably for seven years and led our football program’s transition to the Big Ten conference. We wish Coach Pelini and his wonderful family all the best and thank him for his dedicated service to the university.”
Said chancellor Harvey Perlman, also in a statement, “I am confident that Shawn will find the best coach, teacher and fit for this university and for our football program.”
The Huskers never lost more than four games in a season under Pelini, but they never lost fewer than four, either, heading into 2014. That record of consistent good-but-not-great, coupled with Pelini’s negative public image — unpleasant, unhappy, ticked off; call it what you like — became too much for Nebraska, whose leadership still sees the program as a college football blue-blood.
Pelini had awkward moments; there were rants about the fans and public challenges to his bosses to fire him if they didn’t like him. If there are lessons to be learned here by Pelini’s eventual replacement, they begin with better appreciating the Huskers fan base — among the best and most supportive in the sport — and not projecting callous disregard for one’s job security.
An instant leading candidate for the Nebraska job could be former Huskers quarterback and current Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost. Craig Bohl, who won FCS national titles at North Dakota State in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and now is in his first season as head coach at Wyoming, could be another attractive option. The 56-year-old Bohl was an assistant coach at Nebraska for eight years and is from Lincoln.
Pelini — a possible candidate for the open Kansas job — reportedly will be owed over $7 million by Nebraska, and his assistants in excess of $3 million.