Let the speculation cease. The stories of who you just saw at Duncan Aviation are no longer important to the masses.
Nebraska has a head football coach, and after the Sunday he had, you couldn’t blame Bo Pelini when he laughed and said: “I’m just looking forward to taking a nap.”
This Sunday morning started simply enough for the Pelinis. Dressed the kids. Went to 9 o’clock Mass.
Ordinary stuff. Then things got a little nuts: A flight on a charter airplane. A handshake with a new boss. A news conference viewed by about everyone in Nebraska.
“I’m more prepared today than I was four years ago to be a head football coach,” Pelini said.
Four years ago, after just a year as a defensive coordinator at Nebraska, Pelini was the people’s choice to coach the Huskers after Frank Solich was fired.
He wasn’t Steve Pederson’s. Pelini left for other adventures. Nebraska football turned south.
But the story of four years ago is an old one, one Pelini wasn’t about to get into on a day as joyous as Sunday was for him.
At age 39, he’s a head football coach for the first time.
“You never know in this life,” Pelini said. “Things come back around.”
In introducing Pelini as the replacement for Bill Callahan, Nebraska interim athletic director Tom Osborne said the LSU defensive coordinator “fit the bill in all respects.”
“Of greatest concern to me was defense, the ability to stop people,” Osborne said. “As you know, occasionally you’ll win a game if you give up 50 points, but you’re not going to win very many.
“Also, leadership issues — just the ability to instill confidence, ability to get people to play hard. I’m not casting aspersions on anyone in the past, I’m just saying that’s really critical to football. If you don’t play hard, you don’t have much of a chance.”
Osborne joked that when he began to research possible football coaches, he found only one who was unbeaten over the past few years. Pelini was 1-0 as an interim head coach at Nebraska in 2003.
In addressing questions from the media, Pelini thanked Solich for opening a door to him at Nebraska, called Osborne a “legend,” and spoke of the wish to make the Husker walk-on program something great again.
“It’s a very big part of what Nebraska is and will continue to be,” Pelini said. “One of the unique aspects of this job is everything it means to the whole state. The more young men and the more towns you have involved across the state, it’s going to build strength.”
Pelini met briefly with NU players before the announcement.
He said that was just the start, that he wants to soon meet them “one by one,” an open-door policy.
“It takes time to get trust built, but that’s what we’re looking to do,” Pelini said. “At the end of the day, it’s important that the players that play for me know I have their best interests at heart in every way.”
Already on his first day as Nebraska’s coach, he was starting to make moves on forming his coaching staff.
Two sources told the Journal Star former Husker assistant Ron Brown will be on the staff. Marvin Sanders, who coached on the Husker staff with Pelini in 2003, is in town and will also be part of the staff, according to sources.
Other likely candidates include Carl Pelini, Bo’s brother, and Barney Cotton. On Sunday night, Pelini also met with members of the 2007 Husker coaching staff, though there was no confirmation if anybody would be retained.
Earlier in the day, Pelini spoke of what he was looking for in the men he hired.
“Teachers, communicators. That’s the most important thing to me right there,” he said. “Obviously, we want high-energy people and people who can communicate with the players and build relationships and leadership. Those are all things to me that would make up being a great coach. It’s not just about recruiting or X’s and O’s.”
Pelini said he will run a multiple offense and he’ll be heavily involved with the defense.
“That’s something I enjoy and I have a passion for. It’s part of who I am,” Pelini said.
It’s been a whirlwind weekend for Pelini. Sleep might have to wait.
Things moved so fast that Pelini had not even signed a contract by Sunday evening.
An athletic department spokesman said an agreement had been reached, but terms could not yet be released.
“I haven’t had much of a chance to take a breath,” Pelini said. “But now is the time to put the foot on the gas pedal and go. It’s been hectic, but it’s been good in the same way because it’s something we’ve been talking about, hoping it’d happen for a long time.
“We’re in a special place and we’re happy to be here.”
Reach Brian Christopherson at 473-7439 or firstname.lastname@example.org.