Stewart Mandel Trolls NU Fans Again
And We Take the Bait
In the past, Stewart Mandel has seemed to go out of his way to take shots at Nebraska, though he may not cop to it. His most recent remarks were that he was "baffled" as to how Bo Pelini remains the head coach in Lincoln. While he could innocently say, "Hey, I was just answering a question", it's fair to say that Sports Illustrated receives more than eight e-mails about college football every two weeks. So responding to a question about Nebraska or any program is entirely by choice. Is Pelini's employment truly so baffling? Let's take a closer look.
First of all, you could parse the article pushed right in front of Mandel's nose and cited with a link in the question sent to him. Here's the very first line in that article:
Of the 2,053 men who have ever coached major college football, 107 – about 5 percent – had winning percentages of .706 or better through five seasons.
The article goes on to point out:
Of those 107 coaches, 43 are in the College Football Hall of Fame. Sixty-two worked before World War II. And eight – much less than 1 percent – won nine games in each of their first five seasons as a head coach.
Of those eight, only one inherited a team with a losing record.
His name is Bo Pelini.
With a victory in the coming bowl game, Pelini would become the fifth coach ever to win nine games in each of his first six seasons, joining Osborne, Switzer, Petersen and George Woodruff, who coached Penn in the 1890s.
Fifth. Coach. Ever.
Mandel then chooses to kick sand on the portion about winning nine games in each of your five first seasons. He points out that Osborne and Switzer played fewer games.
However, that fails to address his high winning percentage which is not a function of simply playing more games. Pelini was in the top 5 percent ever. Is it baffling why a school would keep a coach in that kind of elite company?
Do you think we can't kick sand on the other names on the list? Switzer's teams were frequently on probation. Those wins could easily have been vacated by NCAA rule, given how often the man cheated. Woodruff actually coached in more games than Pelini. Four of his first six seasons saw Penn play 15 or 16 games. Was there even a forward pass back then? Osborne and Petersen both inherited programs competing at a very high clip and benefitted from a lot of soft competition. Those guys weren't playing conference championship games, which are known to put a dent in the ol' win percentage. And by the way, didn't Petersen just go 8-5 this season?
Let's also not forget that Pelini had to navigate a conference switch. The Big Ten stacked the deck against Nebraska in their first two seasons of league play with the three toughest cross-division opponents. He also doesn't carry as many scholarships as Switzer and Osborne did. He also can't offer TV games and bowls like they're the rare commodity they once were. Kansas State didn't have top notch facilities back then. The internet wasn't around to allow recruits to scan depth charts for playing time, the way they do now. Let's face it, it's harder to win now than in the 1970's.
Mandel also fails to explain how if winning 9 games is such a layup, why have only five guys ever done it? He may be "baffled" why any school would want one of those five. It would seem more baffling why they would fire one of them though.