We think about college football 24/7 so you don't have to.

The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

P.S.R. Op-Ed

Nebraska’s Unsettling Behavior

Staff changes have been on the horizon at Nebraska since a dreadful conclusion to a once-promising 2010 season, one that disintegrated in a haze of sloppy, penalty-filled play, a woeful offense and — most shocking and troubling of all — a lack of intensity. These changes were coming, sooner or later; if you had predicted that they would occur prior to the start of the 2011 season, I would have said sooner, not on national signing day.

The reports rolled in with the Letters of Intent: Bo Pelini himself visited offensive coordinator Shawn Watson’s top recruit; wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore, who doubles as Nebraska’s recruiting coordinator, was nowhere to be seen; and in one of the more passive-aggressive digs you’ll find between two coaches, Indiana’s Kevin Wilson let the cat out of the bag about Pelini and Nebraska’s pursuit of his newly-hired defensive backs coach.

Wilson’s decision to publicize Nebraska’s interest in Corey Raymond got this ball rolling — strangely enough, there was nothing too out of the ordinary about his arrival and the departure of Marvin Sanders, the well-respected former defensive backs coach who left the program amid reports of off-field and family issues. Raymond was merely replacing Sanders, who was no longer part of the program; what was strange, after all, was the timing.

How long had Pelini been aware that Sanders wasn’t going to return in 2011? It wasn’t a new development, to say the least: Pelini knew this would be the case, as did Sanders, when each was recruiting players late during the most recent recruiting cycle. One such recruit, Charles Jackson, was perturbed to hear — after he had signed with the Cornhuskers  –  that the coach he believed would lead him through the paces come the fall was no longer a member of the Nebraska coaching staff.

That move is only a precursor to grander changes yet to come. One thing is clear: Pelini is not happy about the direction this offense has taken under Watson, and cannot be pleased with the lack of development from the Nebraska wide receivers and the passing game at large. The latter regression falls on Watson and Gilmore, with the embattled receivers coach under fire for failing to create a working rotation at receiver, not to mention failing to develop some of his charges into pass-catchers competent enough to work on a major, conference title-worthy level.

The big question is who’s next: it might be Scott Frost, the former Nebraska quarterback and current Oregon assistant, as well as former Kansas offensive coordinator and current Notre Dame assistant Ed Warinner. If Nebraska can give Frost what he wants — a chance to come home, for starters, but also at least a share of play-calling duties — it will signal the complete transition from the West Coast offense to the spread; this past fall saw Watson dabble in both systems, never finding rhythm in his play-calling or in his offense’s consistency.

So the big question is who’s next. Of nearly equal importance, however, is the timing. Can Pelini and Nebraska merely offer an apology, saying that while the timing was poor, it was not done with any malice or forethought? Pelini could certainly offer an apologia, though he wouldn’t meant it, of course. An apology would ring sour: there’s simply no way that these weren’t preordained decisions, these coaching moves, decisions made likely after an ugly Holiday Bowl loss and tabled for the month of January while the Cornhuskers looked to close strong on an already impressive recruiting haul.

Most shocking of all is our, well, shock. Perhaps some of us believed that Nebraska was one of the F.B.S. programs that always shot straight, especially now that Tom Osborne has involved himself in the day-to-day workings of the athletic department — and the football team in particular. It’s foolish, however, to think that Nebraska wouldn’t do the same thing that rivals in and out of its conference have been doing for generations.

There’s nothing in the N.C.A.A. rulebook that prohibits a team from doing just this after signing day, of course. The only people hurt in this case are the prospects who felt misled and the coaches who opted to take one for the team — like Watson or Gilmore — while they could have been shopping their resumes for a job at another program. Yes, Nebraska’s behavior was a bit shady, a bit unsettling and a bit out of character, but it was nonetheless within the rules of conduct, if not the rules of etiquette.

So not altogether shady, but unsettling. Now, if Pelini doesn’t make the most of these impending moves, hiring the best offensive assistants he can find to help further his goal of leading Nebraska to a national title, it will all be for naught: if he fails in that goal, the decision to make these late coaching changes will come back to haunt Pelini on the field, where his Cornhuskers will continue to stumble on one side of the ball, and off the field, where important recruiting relationships have already been put to the test.

You can also follow Paul Myerberg and Pre-Snap Read on Twitter.

Tags: , , , ,
Home  Home

Comments

  1. [...] Bo Pelini shows us there’s more than one questionable way to skin the recruiting cat. [...]

  2. Malcolm Kass says:

    This is a bit misleading.

    “One such recruit, Charles Jackson, was perturbed to hear — after he had signed with the Cornhuskers – that the coach he believed would lead him through the paces come the fall was no longer a member of the Nebraska coaching staff.”

    Jackson has also said that he would have signed with Nebraska regardless if Sanders is staying, per here.

    http://www.bigredtoday.com/article/2011 … /702039777

    And his father was on a radio show in Omaha discussing that this was blown out of proportion. Apparently Sanders and Jackson haven’t talked in a long time. Should Pelini have told Jackson, sure, but I highly doubt that this was akin to misleading an entire class of recruits.

    Paul: I don’t think perturbed is too strong a word. He was bothered, not to the degree that he wanted out of his scholarship, but bothered nonetheless.

  3. Andy P. says:

    You’re making way way more out of this than need be. Watson’s and Gilmore’s loyalties are to their current employer (Nebraska) until the moment that they officially resign or are fired.

    Therefore, in the interest of the current Nebraska recruiting class and their own future chances at employment (upon leaving Nebraska) Watson and Gilmore needed to do exactly what they did. Keep quiet.

    If either Watson or Gilmore had thrown Nebraska and Pelini under the bus causing recruits to change their minds and go elsewhere you can be darn sure that that would be a blackeye on both of their careers.

    Coaching is a tenuous and thankless job, a what have you done for me lately career. And anyone who gets into coaching at this level understands that things can change very quickly. Do you understand the phrase, “Don’t burn bridges.” ?? That’s exactly what Watson and Gilmore would have done if they had sold Pelini and Nebraska out. Burning bridges is not a good career move by anyone, especially in a cut throat, revolving door job like coaching at an FBS school.

    Think other programs/coaches would think about hiring these two if they had done so and caused issues with this 2011 recruiting class? Damn right. So now not only would people look at the questionable on field coaching and game management of Wats and Gilmore they would have that “other” issue, which would have amounted to a huge blackeye for both or either.

    As far as the 17-18 year old kids who have a huge sense of entitlement already. It’s a business and business decisions are made. I don’t know of any large multi million dollar business bringing in possibly over 50 mil to a university that asks for the ok ( on business decisions) of 17-18 year olds. Kids that have nothing to do with the program at the time the decisions are made.

    Not many players go through an entire college playing career and don’t have to deal with coaching changes. To the 17 year old kids complaining and saying, “I should be in the information loop.” I say, get real and grow up.

    How about the grandstanding, ego centered BS that many of these kids go through during the recruiting process and especially as things get closer to signing day? How many times do you think many of these ego centered, egotistical brats have left a program hung out to dry or caused negative issues by renegging on verbals, or huge unexpected last minute changes? A lot!

    Obviously, with the season being over it was a slow news day for you today.

  4. Aaron F says:

    It is misleading to suggest that Watson “took one for the team” by not publicly looking for another job after his presumed January firing. He had already applied and received consideration for numerous jobs in December and early January, including Vanderbilt, Miami (OH), and Texas State, and he was turned by from all of them.

  5. john says:

    SAME ole SAME OLD!!! THEY SHOULD STOP ALL THE HOP-SCOTCH, MERRY GO ROUND STUFF AND BE HONEST IN RECRUITING THROUGH OUT THE NATION, STOP SCHOOLS THAT GO OUT AND HIRE THEM A 6’6″ 250POUND qb THAT CAN RUN THE FORTY IN 4.5 OR LESS…CAN’T PASS, OR LET SOMEONE ELSE TAKE HIS STUDENT AND CLASS WORK FOR THEM…IF GUILTY COACH IS FIRED… HAS TO GIVE UP ALL RIGHTS TO EVER COACH AGAIN IN THE SAME CONF, TO COACH AGAIN MUST DROP A LEVEL… GET TOUGH ON THESE RULES AND THE KIDS, GIVE THEM A DEAD LINE TO SIGN, MUST BE HONEST AND TRUE, KID HAS TO PLAY WHERE HE SIGNS TO PLAY AND A COACH GIVES HIM A FULL SCHOLARSHIP, AND CAN’T CHANGE NO EXCUSES SIR!!! DEADLINE FEB.,15,3PM ON TIME EVERYONE OR THEY DO NOT PLAY, GIVE UP ONE YEAR EDGIBILITY… IF LATER, MISS ANOTHER YEAR. YOU CAN MAKE THESE sCHOOLS HONEST IF YOU GET TOUGH ENOUGH, IT WILL WORK…MARANATHA!!!

  6. Burnt Orange says:

    I have no opinion on the subject and wish everyone well.

  7. Jim Narby says:

    ” a dreadful conclusion to a once-promising 2010 season”,,,,,,,,,, not surprising. – jim narby, aka the oracle

    Paul: It’s been a while, but Jim Narby is still up to his same tricks.

  8. DMK says:

    That guy got his caps lock stuck!

    And asst. coaching is certainly not a thankless job, at least if you count salaries in excess of a quarter million bucks as a form of thanks.

  9. Rick says:

    Not said here are some contract issues with Watson and Gilmore. They cannot do anything official until Feb 11. We will see what transpires on Feb 12th. Another point is Pelini is under no obligation to spill his guts to just anyone who asks his business. He does not have to tell any media type everything he thinks anytime they ask. all the media folks are trying to make him look bad because he doesn’t come tell them everything they want to know exactly when they want it. Too bad.

Leave a Comment