Will this be the last time Iowa faces a Nebraska football team coached by Bo Pelini?
“I’m not coaching to save my job,” Pelini said during a Monday press conference. “At the end of the day, I want to be here.
“If they don’t want me here, then I’ll move on. I’ll go on my way.”
And thus, we have our most intriguing subplot heading into Friday’s 11 a.m. showdown between the Hawkeyes (7-4) and Cornhuskers (8-3).
Would it be overly dramatic to think an Iowa victory might seal Pelini’s fate? Maybe.
Then again, according to some Internet speculation, the folks at Nebraska have already made up their minds.
“I can say this,” Pelini added, “I can look myself in the mirror every night, and feel good about what I’ve done for this program.”
The Cornhuskers have never won fewer than nine games in a season — pending Friday’s result and a probable bowl appearance — since Pelini took over in 2008.
His overall record of 57-23 (a .713 winning percentage) places him fourth on the school’s all-time wins list — and he can tie Frank Solich, 58-19, for third by beating the Hawkeyes.
Pelini’s predecessor, Bill Callahan, posted a 27-22 record in four seasons.
“The situation is what it is,” Pelini said of his status. “I’ll let people decide for themselves.”
Pelini’s comments were blunt and somewhat commendable, but his tenuous position has become a primary topic of discussion among the Big Red faithful.
His demonstrative sideline antics rubbed some the wrong way.
Other were enraged by an audio clip released earlier this season, in which Pelini bashes Nebraska fans.
But mostly, it comes down to lofty expectations set by Cornhusker icons Bob Devaney (who compiled a 101-20-2 coaching record from 1962 to 1972) and Tom Osborne (255-49-3 from 1973 to 1997).
“I like the direction of this program,” Pelini said. “I like where we are.
“I think the future is bright. I really do.”
A rash of injuries, including quarterback Taylor Martinez’s aching foot, hampered the Cornhuskers this fall.
They survived close calls against Northwestern, Michigan and Penn State, and are likely to second place — either in a tie or by themselves — in the Big Ten’s Legends Division.
Add it all up, and Nebraska seems likely to land in an attractive bowl game.
“I think we’ve overcome a lot,” Pelini said. “I’m proud of this group. It’s not for lack of effort or lack of toughness.”
To some, however, there is no excuse for three losses.
And they aren’t impressed that Pelini is averaging 9.3 wins a year.
They’re well aware Nebraska hasn’t ended a season ranked among the Associated Press top 10 since 2001.
“For me, it’s not satisfactory,” Pelini said. “I want to win them all.
“Our goal will remain, as long as I’m head football coach here, to win a conference title and a national title.”
Perhaps Saturday’s result against the Hawkeyes will be a factor in whether Pelini is granted more time to pursue those goals.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football