BO PELINI: WHAT IS OLD IS NEW AGAIN
In the wake of Dave Aranda leaving for Baylor, the search for a defensive coordinator was on and became the top priority for LSU and Coach Ed Orgeron. The first list of candidates included Todd Grantham, Corey Raymond, Bill Busch, Bob Shoop, Blake Baker, Ron Roberts, Mike MacIntyre and so forth. What this writer did not hear in the first couple of days was an old name for LSU fans — Bo Pelini.
However, once that name made its round on the various sites, it felt inevitable, and before we knew it, what was old was new again, and LSU had their man.
Bo Pelini brings with him a muddled record from his time at Youngstown State, his hometown school. While including an appearance in the 2016 FCS championship, it also contains two losing seasons out of the five he was there. Prior to Youngstown State, Bo was the head coach at Nebraska (2008-2014) for seven years and won at least nine games every season, along with seven bowl appearances and finishing ranked in the coaches’ poll six out of the seven seasons. He also had an interim stint in 2003, in which he coached the Huskers to a victory in the Alamo bowl. Despite the success, he never won a conference championship and his contract was terminated early. Nebraska may have since regretted their decision as they have had one winning season and one bowl victory since Bo’s departure and have gone a combined 28-34. It took him mere weeks to get picked up by Youngstown State under the watchful eye of Jim Tressel, a man whom Bo greatly respected for his time at Ohio State, Bo’s alma mater. While Bo allegedly had several offers for NFL defensive coordinator positions, he ultimately decided to go back to Ohio and his family.
Now to the present, while Bo is on record stating that giving up the head coaching job at Youngstown State wasn’t an easy decision, he also stated that joining Coach Orgeron’s staff is a “life-changing opportunity.” His biggest reason: While other opportunities have come, knowing what LSU and its program is capable of accomplishing makes them different from any other offer he has received while at Youngstown State. What was further revealed is that Orgeron likely targeted Bo early on, as Bo has noted that he had plenty of time to think about the job offer.
So just what is LSU and Coach Orgeron getting with Bo Pelini? We know that in his previous three-year stint, LSU ranked third nationally in overall defense each year, won a National Championship, a Southeastern Conference championship and had another appearance in the Conference championship in his first year. In comparison, Dave Aranda has finished 31, 25, 12 and 10 in total defense in his four years at LSU. These are marks that Bo should aspire to, and can, exceed.
If Bo can pull off those kind of achievements in his second stint, the hire will be a homerun. LSU knows it is getting a fiery coordinator who has a different style both on and off the field from Dave Aranda. While he has never coached alongside Orgeron before, they do have several mutual friends in common and, most notably, both coached under Pete Carroll.
Bo Pelini knows the area in regards to recruiting, he has three years’ worth of former NFL players who had successful careers at LSU and that are from Louisiana or our surrounding states, and since his hiring, several former players have approved of the hire and taken to social media to voice their agreement with the decision that Coach Orgeron and Athletic Director Scott Woodward have made. While it has been 13 seasons since Bo has been at LSU, fans should expect more of the same from him in regards to an up-tempo and aggressive defense. The scheme, coupled with his renowned motivational speeches and fiery personality from the sideline, are the essentials of Pelini. What has not been revealed is whether or not he will go back to his base 4-3 defense and what prospects he will continue to recruit. The other unknown is whether or not he will be worth the $2.3 million annual contract which makes him the second highest paid assistant coach. While it seems like a huge sum for someone coming from an FCS head coaching position, readers need to be aware that Nebraska was continuing to pay Pelini until February 2019.
LSU fans need to trust Coach Orgeron with this decision. One thing is for sure: Bo Pelini is proven at LSU. Let’s hope he can pick up where he left off and can be the excellent new old coordinator that he is.