Pelini Stacks Up in Big Ten

Looking at the experience of the coaches who will be leading team in the Big Ten this season, there is little doubt that Urban Meyer has has the most past experience and success of anybody in the conference.  His 10 years of experience will be second only to Kirk Ferentz at 13 previous years of experience.  Meyer's winning percentage over those years are a spectacular .819!  But looking at the total winning percentage of each coach as they head into this year tells an interesting story about where Bo Pelini lands on the scale of coaching success.

Directly behind Urban Meyer is Bret Bielema at .759 followed by Bo Pelini at .709.  Pelini has the best overall winning percentage of any of the coaches in the Legends Division with a record of 39-16.  While this is excellent, a closer inspection of the win/loss breakdown seems to show what many people have suspected about Pelini in the past. For the whole chart of the various wins and losses, see the image here.

When the coaches are sorted by Home winning percentage, Mark Dantonio jumps above Pelini, placing him in the fourth best spot in the conference.  And when the coaches are ordered by their wins and losses against highly ranked opponents, Bo Pelini is the 6th best coach in the Big Ten at a dismal 2-7.  Against the Top 25, he jumps back up to being behind only Meyer and Bielema.

That highly ranked winning percentage means some good things as well.  Only Meyer has a better away record than Pelini.  His 13-6 is an impressive feat considering some of the conference opponents faced in the Big 12.  When playing off a bye, he is also the third best at 6-3.  And even more impress is the fact that he is only behind Meyer when it comes to playing off a loss at 10-4.  A team probably would not want to be playing the Huskers the game after a losing effort or when Pelini has had time to prepare.

Bo Pelini is entering his 5th year as a head coach, 2nd in the current conference.  While his wins may be skewed by the Big 12 years, there is little doubt that it is a great first four years for a coach in a BCS conference.  Winning at the current rate will mean continuing to be in the race for division titles and a chance at the conference title.  But without a slightly better uptick in home games and against top 10 opponents, it will be difficult to see Pelini leading his teams to the national title race.

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Comments 2 comments so far

You had to end it with a negative didn’t you! LOL. Good article Tom. I like the 2 sentences though before the last one…that overall, in a BCS conference, winning 1/4 game short per year of 10 wins is damn phenominal! Especially since we’ve played in 2 Conference Championships in his first 4 years. We’re lucky to have Bo Pelini and most don’t even recognize it…tons of teams would love to have him.  Look where we’ve come in a small amount of time!
“There is little doubt that it is a great first four years for a coach in a BCS conference”. True!  Good to hear something positive about our coach for once. And I do think a lot of those problems we’re focusing on now will be solved, or solve themselves. And the only way to beat a top 10 team is to be a top 10 team…otherwise you have little chance, so I don’t think the 2-7 record is all that unusual.

He’s doing it the “Nebraska way” and the Nebraska way is a rather arduous process which requires talented and mentally tough coaches and administrators capable of passing along those traits to their players. He stacks up well and well he should, since he’s being paid well.
Historically, Nebraska hasn’t a team that upsets opponents. I can’t think of many more examples than ‘77 Bama. Which, came off a loss to Wazzou. When they’ve reached an upper tier, it’s been pretty much a trade off, wins to losses. Just as it is for most everybody, when you play teams of equal talent.
Imo, possibly the key issue now, is when an opponent identifies a weakness in Nebraska’s schemes or its personnel groups. How a staff overcomes that, during a game, is what makes an upper tier team, and an elite coach.

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