Pelini Stays Quiet About Nebraska Job

Saturday, December 1st 2007, 9:13 pm
By: News On 6

ATLANTA (AP) - Bo Pelini's actions may have said more than his words on Saturday night. Minutes after LSU's Southeastern Conference championship victory over Tennessee, players and coaches surged toward the LSU fans in one end zone in the Georgia Dome.

Pelini was alone as he jogged in the opposite direction toward an end zone tunnel, perhaps leaving the LSU team behind as he reportedly is close to accepting an offer to become Nebraska's head coach.

After the game, Pelini would not confirm reports that he will step down as LSU's defensive coordinator to take the Nebraska job.

``No, I can't,'' said Pelini, a former Nebraska defensive coordinator. ``We'll see what happens over the next couple of days. I'm just enjoying this championship. We worked hard and stayed together.''

A Baton Rouge, La., newspaper reported that a member of the Louisiana State University system's board of supervisors confirmed Pelini will take the job.

``I think it's pretty clear and it's our idea that Bo will be the next coach at Nebraska,'' Charles Weems told The Advocate for a story on its Web site Saturday.

Nebraska interim athletic director Tom Osborne refused to comment Friday on an ESPN report pointing to Pelini as the Cornhuskers next coach.

LSU athletic director Skip Bertman said he talked with Pelini before Saturday's game about the reports.

``Pelini doesn't know anything about that, at least that's what he told me,'' Bertman said.

``I'll tell you this, he would deserve a head job. He's an excellent, excellent coach. He's the kind of guy who has been in the business long enough with all the people he knows to fill a staff.''

Before Pelini made his solitary exit from the field, he was doused with a cooler of water by two of his players, linebacker Ali Highsmith and defensive end Tyson Jackson.

``We were just showing him that we appreciate him, no matter what he's about to do,'' Highsmith said.

Said Jackson: ``If coach Pelini decides to go to Nebraska, I wish him the very best. I think he's the best defensive coordinator out there. If that's the decision he makes, I back him 100 percent.''

If hired, the 39-year-old Pelini would replace Bill Callahan, who was fired last Saturday after the Huskers' second losing season in four years.

Osborne had said when announcing Callahan's firing that the next coach didn't have to have Nebraska ties. Pelini was only at Nebraska in 2003, but his no-nonsense, hardworking style of coaching defense quickly made him a beloved figure.

Pelini was interim coach after Frank Solich was fired following the 2003 regular season, coaching the Huskers to an Alamo Bowl victory over Michigan State. As he walked off the field in San Antonio, Huskers fans chanted ``We want Bo.''

Osborne has interviewed Pelini and Buffalo coach Turner Gill, a former star Nebraska quarterback and longtime assistant, and reportedly spoke informally with Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe.

Pelini had been a candidate for the Nebraska job after Solich's firing. Former athletic director Steve Pederson interviewed Pelini but elected to go with Callahan.