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.

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Comments 47 comments so far

Whether it was officially called a conference championship game or not the did play games for the CC. It was called OKlahoma vs Nebraska.

What was not mentioned is Pelini losing all his conference CC games his teams have played. Also that he owns several ‘worst loss’ records at Nebraska.

Nice to know King Switzer still gets under your skin.

And we will never know who would have one the game if Ok and NU had to play again the same year for the conference championship.

should have been And we will never know who would have won the game if Ok and NU had to play again the same year for the conference championship.

NU diehards won’t be enjoying your posts!!!  Wait for the shots over your respective bows!  I am trying to recall the last time NU dominated a ranked team versus all the times NU has been blown out by division leaders during Pelini tenure.  Bigger concern for Pelini is the lack of steady progress after 6 years resulting in a CC.  When you look at Dantonio during this same time period, especially since 2010, he has won one outright B10 Championship and tied for a second title since 2010.  Relatively consistent progress as his tenure progressed.  We have not seen that from Pelini.  It is the lack of positive improvement after 6 six that leads an objective observer to suggest he has maxed out on what he can deliver.

This past season saw a HC who morphed into an emotional melt down during and after the last regular season game (Iowa).  NU was almost dead last nationally in turn over margin, with no improvement in that regard from the prior season.  Defensive improvement during BO’s 6 years has not been consistent and one of the biggest disappointments since his hire.  With a healthy team, he struggles to beat Wyoming at home.  It was also Wyoming’s first game of the season, not just NU’s.  South Dakota State?  They rip us apart, especially in the first half with a running game???  We need a last second Hail Mary to beat a down and out NW team AT HOME??? 

In the end, Pelini acquiring 4 loss seasons, one season after the next, is what really matters.  Last season could easily have been 5 losses - God Bless The Virgin Mary.

^^What he said.

Another good “yard stick” is:  How many players from each class go on to play on Sunday.  Just a few good players can make the difference between average & champioship.  It all begins with the linemen on offense & on defense!


The last time Nebraska dominated ranked opponents?  How soon we forget eh?

2011 Nebraska dominated #11 Michigan State and beat #12 Penn State.
2010 when Nebraska dominated 2 ranked opponents in KSU and Okie State…they also dominated 2 others but didn’t get the win.

People have such short memories….and they let their present mindset influence how they remember things.

2010 missouri (9) 31-17 2011 mich state (9) 24-3 2012 mich (20) 23-9

Beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder.  As to MS game at home for NU, NU only led 10-3 at halftime.  Overall stats were fairly equal except for NU rushing for 90 more yards than MS that game.  In the 1990s, NU clearly dominated MS with point productions in the 50’s and huge margins for victory.  There is a difference between dominating versus winning.  In 2011, NU had only won 2 out of 17 games against highly ranked opponents.

As to Missouri and Michigan games, NU won, but they were not dominant in those match ups either.

You asked, we answered.  Anything else you put out there is simply contrived opinion.

Don’t you have a 9-5 job out there that you can do instead of coming here and dropping horrible comments about the Cornhuskers in the offseason?

Mandel is an incredibly GREAT sports writer…....for me to POOP ON!

“Pelini was in the top 5 percent ever.”  I guess you would put that at the top of BOP’s resume.

The subject of BOP’s employment @ NU is beyond redundant, but I am sure it will continue to dominate the off season.

BOP ‘til ya drop in the big cit-eh!

re: “In 2011, NU had only won 2 out of 17 games against highly ranked opponents”

I must have missed that season, had to be the toughest ever!

As to Missouri and Michigan games, NU won, but they were not dominant in those match ups either.


Roy Helu rushed for 307 yards versus Missouri and we won 31-17 and we sacked Blaine Gabbert 6 times.

Don’t get much more dominant than that.

As of 2011 season only 2 out 17 games were victorious involving top ranked teams.  Being technical on such points knowing it was not in reference to a single season only illustrates the obsessive nature of some fans’ attitudes.  If the realists must post comments appealing to the lowest common denominator of thought processes for commentators, so be it.

Devine, die hards remind me of “see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil” monkey line up.  Yah, some folks don’t like to here the truth.  NU’s definition of a “blow out” has now migrated from 40 point victories down to 14 point margins???  Like it or not, go ahead and cover your eyes so you don’t read this: “bigotry of low expectations” exists among die hard fans.  Millions of dollars each year paid to Pelini to lose 4 games every year???  Sad man.

Go ahead and attack the messenger.

Lol .. He’s a tool too.. 5% of winning coaches over.701 Ild say that’s pretty damn good.. That kind of takes away the argument if whether 9 games is enough or not… Mandel knows Neb fans will pounch on him but it gives a lil excitement in the down time between now and national signing day.  Speaking of which sounds like we’ve got a chance to finish the class strong again.. FSu decommit visiting dosnt hurt.. Go big red!

unrealist, you still didn’t address my off-handed comment.
Do you mean since 1896?  In Bo’s tenure?  Bo, Frank and Bill’s tenure?  Do you mean top 10? top 20? top 50?  Ranked at the time of the game or at the end of the season?

So my point was your attempt at communicating a point failed laughably, hence I made a joke.

Obvious, you’re a little below the Bell curve on thought process.

@NU Realista

You need help dude..comparing Bo to TO is DUMB.  Absolute stupidity. But if you must, please do some research first.

Enjoy and take your comments there…I’ll address them there since I authored the article.

I think the point that NU is trying to get across is that so far every year with BOP as HC his staff and players have been sloppy in every aspect of the game. So BOP is in this 5% thing. Is that because of his great coaching or because he had a few guys who still had that blue collar Husker pride that got him out of a few jams.

Admiral.  My problem is people bash the coaches and say they are bad coaches , then they bash our recruiting classes and say they arnt good enough but Bo is in that top 5%.. We can’t be bad at both and winning , one or both of those are in better shape that the trolls give us credit for.. Our biggest problem has been turnovers plain and simple.its amazing how we’ve won as many games as we have with our negative turnover margin.. Sorry that’s not coaching that’s in peoples heads.. If we could just get close to even in turnover margin that’s two more wins this year one against the team that won the league Michigan State.. It would be different if the turnovers were because of bad decisions by qbs but fumbles on o and special teams have been deadly.. Our offense is a high risk reward offense so it lends itself to more turnovers but we’ve more than our fair share.. All we need is improvement there and were at 11 wins there next year

I think one of the things that sticks in the dissident’s craws is the win/loss record against non-conference powers. We usually have 1 supposedly bona fide (blue blood) team to play before the conference schedule begins. During Bo’s tenure the Huskers have lost 4 of the 6 of those contests. Add the 3 of 6 bowl wins over the past 6 years and it lends itself to grumbling. So 5 wins out of 12 games against the “haves” outside of our conference makes us less than 50% in the nations eyes. What was TO’s record against the “haves” outside of the Big 8 during his first 6 years? That would lend itself to a valid comparison.

TO’s bowl record was about the same as BP’s.  50%.  A streak of 7 losses in a row before beating Miami for the NC.

It is hard to say what dominated is, when we win by 14 it is not a dominating win, yet when we loose by double digit we were domintated.  When we lost to Georgia last year people said how we got domintated and lost that game by 14.  So I think it is whom ever is on the end of the keyboard, are they a “koolaid drinker” or a “mudslinger”??


What about the blue bloods the Huskers played before the conference schedule? Was TO getting the upper hand in those contests or was he failing there? Course in those days I believe there was only 3 non-conference games not the 4 they have now. They still tried to play one blue blood and two high school teams didn’t they. His terrible bowl record came in the 80’s long after his first 6 years.

I looked at the easy part!
You can research it here:

Alright here it is ‘73-‘78.

In TO’s first six years they played no high school teams. Every game was against a team from a major conference with the exception of Hawaii one year.

TO won 4 of his first 6 bowl games. The losses were to a 7th ranked Arizona State & 4th ranked OU.

There was 9 non-conference games against what might be considered Blue Bloods. 6 were wins including teams ranked 10, 14, 4 & 1. The win over the #1 ranked team was Bama. The 3 other games were 2 losses to unranked teams and tie with an unranked LSU.

So in TO’s first 6 years he went 10 of 15 against non-conference powers including a win against #1 and Bo went 5 of 12 against non-conference powers.

That’s why on the nat’l stage today we are considered mediocre and unranked.


There weren’t many minor conferences back then either which is why Nebraska never played teams from them…that’s one major reason for the games against major conference opponents.  Not only that, but Tom had about 25 more scholarships per year he could give out.

It’s crazy to think people are holding Bo to the same standard as Tom with all of the changes that have taken place…but whatever.  Those people will never be satisfied I guess.

For you NU DieHards, read the article posted below and think twice before you go to your grave defending Pelini, or cast doubt on those fans who take a realistic assessment of the status of the program under Pelini:


The schedule speaks for itself. Go back and look at the non-conference teams TO beat. It’s quite impressive. I agree it’s apples to oranges—but TO beat Bama twice in his first 6 years. Bama was ranked 4th in the 1st game and #1 in the 2nd. It was ridiculous in ‘79 when people were calling for TO’s head.

If Bo comes out next year and wins those early tough non-conference games next year I think a lot of the complaining goes away as long as he maintains his composure on the sideline. The 2 losses to UCLA the past two years have caused immeasurable damage. Win those games—we aren’t having this discussion.

When you argue that times have changed it sounds like you are willing to settle for lower standards. I’d say 10 more years of what we have now and most of our fans expectations will settle to what Iowa’s are now. It’s going to take awhile. Some of us are spoiled—that’s the bottom line.


And there you are comparing Tom to Bo…despite the 25 scholarship advantage Tom and every other team at the time has over Bo…didn’t you say something about apples to oranges?  Pot meet kettle.

If Bo comes out next year and wins those early tough non-conference games next year I think a lot of the complaining goes away

I don’t think so.  I think people begin to complain about other things.  I don’t think people will stop complaining until Nebraska is 1994/5 dominant again.  The UCLA games didn’t cause any damage other than to fans pride…which is why they bring it up all the time.  The Wisconsin CCG was worse and yet no one brings it up.

When you argue that times have changed it sounds like you are willing to settle for lower standards.

Nope.  Just because I argue that people need to adjust their perspective doesn’t mean I settle for mediocrity…and you can’t dismiss my opinions and ideas with that label you’re pigeonholing me with .

I was in college with the teams in the 1990’s.  I knew players…hung out with them and played with many of the guys on the team when I was in high school.  I know what winning is like…and I know it sucks not to win.  I want the team to be like those great teams again.  But I’m not going to bag on players and bag on coaches to get there.  I’m also going to bust my ass to make sure my perspective is the right one instead of the wrong one.  I feel I do a good job of this.  Most people who comment here don’t.

So here’s to our Huskers…may they continue winning and become great again.


The poor we will always have with us. Let them complain. I was one of the ones in ‘79 that thought the complainers were ridiculous. Time will tell.

Comparing BOP with TO is an exercise in futility as ‘times they have changed’.  There’s no doubt that TO’s teams were more fundamentally sound, but back then it was OU and that was it.  Unlimited schollies, yada yada yada.  The B1G, contrary to all the negative PR, is a pretty tough conference.  tOSU and MI are perennial contenders to one degree or another, that is, at the least will always put top talent on the field.  And now Wiscy, Sparty are forces to contend with and PSU, I have faith, will get itself back in the running.  IA is no slouch, and Minny is getting better all the time under Kill.  So, the conference is at least 6 teams that can kick your ass if you dont show up.  Again, back in the day of the Big 8, it was NU and OU, occasionally OSU or Mizzou or CU would have short run, but of those, CU was the only team that ever won anything.

I just got some amusement picturing Pelini walking up to “howie” like he did with that ref and this time, following through with a nice, flush, bitch slap!
But, only because I kept picturing Pelini doing that to the ref, the weekend after the Hawkeye game.
I think the last time I read a SI “piece,” it was over something like this and linked from the brn or max.

It seems to me the biggest difference in the TO/Bo comparison is what quality of program that each inherited.

TO got from Devaney a program that won the National Championship twice the the previous three years. Bo got from Clownahan….well, it hurts too much to recall.

Let’s just say TO had a truly HUGE advantage.


We is currently in a dead heat with Sparty and Wiscy for ~30th in recruiting class.  Now, I’m not saying I dont like this clss or I think it’s ‘bad’ or anything, because I don’t, I think it’s good, and we have some heavy hitters in there, BUT, in surveying the Rivals Top 100, I can’t help but noticing that we offered alot of those guys AND, uh, except for Farmer, we ain’t got any other of those guys,  Knowing the direct correlation between *s and poll rankings, I can’t help but think, “we ain’t keepin’ up with the Jones here.”

The same ol’ teams that are ‘all the rage’ these days, Bama, FSU, tOSU, aTm, I mean, they are CLEANING UP!  I am not saying you can’t occassionally be a top 10 participant with a 3* heavy laden class—which is our M.O. under BOP Inc—but seriously, w/o extra special coaching and the rare ‘team chemistry’, I just dont see how this mid 20s ave range recruiting class thing is going to cut it, year in and year out.

I dunno, maybe when the Socialist Players Union hits, we can offer a better contract or something.  I like this class, except for the DT spot, which is conspicous by it’s absence, but in the bigger picture, the longer view, I’m just not all warm and fuzzy about how we’re not keepin’ up with the Joneses.


2014 Gator Bowl full version, Youtube:

Need to win the biggest games and make a name for ourselves again. We are right with the other Big Ten teams other Ohio State in recruiting which is impressive because while we are all fighting the southern sun we have the least local talent.. That’s tough to jump over.. Part of it is that the recruiting sites pay more attention to the kids in the south, therefore better rankings.. Double edge sword.. But we are doing a good job… Follow it up with a great season and next recruiting class will get closer to great.  We need to finish out the d line and dB’s in this class and it will be a good one.. A great tackle like Freison would help just as much

Nu when comparing to the 90’s the difference is the parody in the game now.  On any given saturday I doubt you will find as many games in the 50’s & 60’s to 0-17 pt range as in the 90’s.  There is to many different variables now, scholarship numbers, internet access, tv deals where the player can be seen more often, nfl scouts able to get info about any player anywhere more easily.  This keeps scores closer and hurts nu recruiting, along with the fact that with 2-3 losses could be ranked in top 10 because big 8 was the power conference as is the sec now.  Add in the fact that espn has got so holy over the sec and everyone just about has espn but not all have the big10 network.

Just win baby.

“Nu when comparing to the 90’s the difference is the parody in the game now”  So you’re saying the game now is laughable?  Or perhaps you meant parity.  Or not?

I would imagine most people knew what I meant, but if it gives you pleasure to correct me have at it.  I ain’t got no good English degree, just do the best I can.

You dont fire a coach for this type of consistent performance.  However, if the admin had fired Pelini for his sideline behaviour and unapologetic press conference, well i think they would have had just cause.  For those who like to compare Osborne and Pelini, and I do like to do that too, lets not forget Osborne is a boliever and came to Pelini’s defense in a full vote of confidence.  In my mind, case closed.
What I would like to see in the upcoming seasons is disciplined sideline behaviour and disciplined football.  Nebraska football shouldnt look like amatuer hour at the circus.  And that also means Beck has to seriously get in touch with his inner football guru and stop calling silly plays.  If this could possibly happen, we could be talking about conference championships and not just 9 win seasons.

Holy recruiting batman.. Great weekend

Wow, DE McClain had some big time offers:  Bama, FL, FSU, AUB, SCar.  6’3”, 280, NICE!

Beck’s silly plays:
Triple option TM to RB to AA vs Michigan;
Deep ball TA to QE on 3rd down from your own 1-inch line;
Flea flicker on the first play of the first drive to get the D thinking what’s next.

I don’t mind silly plays.  Daring plays.  Boise State plays.  Just avoid the dumb ones (read option from your own 1 yd line vs UCLA, etc.)

Great Article.

Additionally, it should be noted that Pelini lost two CC games, one by one second and the other by 3 points.  Had any of those games gone the other way, we would never have had this conversation.  So let’s not count out bad officiating playing into the equation as well.

It also leaves out the most poigniant statement in the article:

“At the end of the day, Pelini has a winning percentage of .704 in nearly six seasons. In his first five years, he had a winning percentage of .706. Better than Nick Saban. Better than Bear Bryant. Better than Lou Holtz, Bobby Bowden, Bo Schembechler, Jimmy Johnson, Frank Beamer, Steve Spurrier, Les Miles, Pop Warner, Amos Alonzo Stagg and, oh, by the way, Bob Devaney.”

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