Interim Athletic Director Tom Osborne

Opening Statement

“Thank you for coming. I’m sorry to get you out on a Sunday afternoon. I’m glad to see you, and I’m really glad to see Bo (Pelini). Now you don’t have to follow me anymore. I thought I’d make a couple of introductory comments here. We had a process going on here, and there were really a couple of things I tried to take a look at. First of all, I looked at the individual qualities of both people interested. I was pleased and gratified at the number of coaches who were interested in coming here. There were a lot of really well-qualified people. You look at their individual strengths, and then you look at what it appears the program needs. Of greatest concern to me was defense, the ability to stop people. As you know, occasionally you’ll win a game if you give up 50 points, but you’re not going to win very many. So that was something that was a major concern. Also, leadership issues – just the ability to instill confidence, ability to get people to play hard. I’m not casting aspersions on anyone in the past, I’m just saying that’s really critical to football. If you don’t play hard, you don’t have much of a chance. Then maybe some understanding about Nebraska – what’s unique about the place, what isn’t unique. We thought those were maybe three issues that were important.

 

“Bo Pelini was a good fit in all three areas. As you know, Bo was here in 2003 and took a defense that in 2002 was pretty mediocre. In 2003, it became a very good defense. I think we led the nation in turnovers gotten, and this year, that was somewhat of a problem, as you may know. His defensive credentials were outstanding every place he’s been in recent years. They’ve either been at the top or very near the top in most defensive statistics. I’m very proud of what he’s accomplished there. He’s a good communicator, a good teacher. It doesn’t matter what you have in your head; if players don’t understand it and can’t translate it to the field, it’s not going to make any difference. The second issue is in leadership issues. I talked to an awful lot of players who were here in 2003 and coaches who were here in 2003 and a great many who have worked with Bo since. All of them are very impressed with his ability to inspire people, to get them to play with a lot of tenacity, with emotion, and that’s important. Bo has a reputation of being very straightforward, very honest, and that’s something that players like. It’s something that they appreciate very much. I think the leadership issues are certainly very important. He has a good understanding of this state with the importance of walk-ons, the importance of football to the state. I think that’s an important thing to have a handle on.”

 

“I’d like to turn it over to Bo. I’m glad Bo is here, and thank you all for being here today. I’ll hand it over to Bo, who is the next head coach at Nebraska.”

 

 

Head Coach Bo Pelini

Opening Statement

“Thank you very much. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be here. I want to thank Coach Osborne and Chancellor Harvey Perlman and everyone associated with the search and the opportunity that has been given to me and my family. I want to introduce my family, who is here with me and is excited to be back in Lincoln. My wife, Mary Pat, is my best friend in the world. Everybody knows with the amount of moves I’ve made that I wouldn’t be where I am today without her and the support that I’ve been given all along the way. I thank her also for all the support she gives me. My eight-year-old son, Patrick – he’s probably a little freaked out at losing all his purple stuff, but that’s ok. He’s already got all his red on and ready to go. There’s my six-year-old, Kate over there in the corner, and my four-year-old, Caralyn. Caralyn is the one Pelini who was born here in Lincoln, so it’s good karma.

 

“I’m excited to be here. I’m excited for the opportunity. This is a special place. We were only here for nine months or a year, but you recognize something special. The way the state, the city of Lincoln, everything associated with Nebraska football and the University of Nebraska is very special. It’s an honor to be standing here as the head coach and to be given the opportunity that’s been given to us. I look forward to the opportunity to work with the young men that are here and go out and recruit the best out there in the state of Nebraska to try to get this program back on track and to a point where everyone in the state is extremely proud of what we have going. I think that’s what makes the University of Nebraska unique over any place I’ve been coaching – how much it means to the state. It’s like one big family, and that’s what I want it to be. I look back at all the tradition and all the things that have gone on here, the great players and the great teams that have played here, and I want to bring every single one of those players and coaches and the people who have all contributed to the University of Nebraska back into the fold and let them know that I might be the head coach now, but they’re all part of the family. We have an open door policy, and we want everyone to draw upon tradition to allow us to move this program forward and get the best out of everything we can do.

 

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity, and we’re going to be moving quickly. We have a lot of work to do and a short amount of time to do it to get this thing heading in the right direction. We have a couple of weeks here to get recruiting, and I want to go out there and get some players and get the recruiting started and make sure that we get off on the right foot. There’s a lot of work to be done, but Coach Osborne has given me a lot of insight into what’s been going on and what needs to be done in a short amount of time for the short-term. I think that’s one of the advantages I have. I’m going to be working as a first-time head coach under a legend. He’s going to be right there as someone I can lean on and ask questions of. One thing I understand in this business and in life is that you never have it all figured out. The first time you do something, there are going to be things that come up that you’re not sure of. Having Coach Osborne here as the athletic director and being able to draw on his experience and his knowledge will be nothing but beneficial to me. It will do nothing but allow me to do my job that much better. I’m looking forward to the opportunities that have been presented to me and looking forward to getting this thing headed off in the right direction. I’m excited to be here. It’s an honor.”

 

On when he’ll assume his duties as head coach at Nebraska

“I’m starting here at Nebraska right now. It’s time to go to work, and there’s a lot to be done here.”

 

On how the last week unfolded for him

“I’ve had so much going on trying to get ready for that SEC Championship game and preparing a game plan, so I’m not sure about all the time frames and all of that. But I know I’m here now. When I got on that plane and headed up here to Nebraska, that’s really the only thing I was concerned with. I was totally consumed with trying to win a championship last night, but I’m here now, and I’m ready to go to work.”

 

On returning to Nebraska after interviewing for the position in 2003

“There’s no animosity. If I had animosity, I wouldn’t be here today. There’s a lot of special people here in the state. I have a lot of great friends, and hopefully will make more great friends here. There are no bad feelings at all. That was a different point in time, a different point in my life. I’m happy to be here right now, and that’s all that really matters to me. Things happen for a reason in life, and I understand that. I’m more prepared today than I was four years ago to be a head football coach. All I’m concerned with is here and now.”

 

On assembling his staff

“I have some (assistants) in mind, and I’m going to visit with some of the gentlemen who have been coaching here now. That’ll all work itself out over the next few days.”

 

On divulging names of potential assistant coaches

“It wouldn’t be fair to anyone I’ve talked to or to the gentlemen who have worked for the University of Nebraska up until now.”

 

On what he looks for in a staff

“Teachers, communicators. That’s the most important thing to me right there. Obviously we want high-energy people and people who can communicate with the players and build relationships and leadership. Those are all things to me that would make up being a great coach. It’s not just about recruiting or Xs and Os. It’s about the total package, and a lot of that goes into the type of people I want to associate myself with.”

 

On his message to the team before the press conference

“It was just a quick introduction. Coach Osborne gave an introduction, and I had an opportunity to just let them know what type of atmosphere I was looking forward to establishing and the kind of culture that we will live by. It’s accountability and trust and belief in one another and the family atmosphere we want to build within this program. It was a short meeting, but hopefully one that was productive in that they understand that I’m not just here to be the head coach and a dictator. I’m here to serve a number of roles, and one of those roles is to make sure they have a positive experience as a student-athlete at Nebraska.”

 

On the opportunity to be a head coach

“It’s something I’ve worked a long time for. You never know if it’s going to happen or not. I’ve never really been consumed with the chance at becoming a head coach. I figured that God willing, it would happen some day. I just kept doing my job and doing it well. I’ve always taken on the belief that if you do your job the best you can, people recognize it, and good things will happen to you. If you ever get consumed with that next step, then you lose sight of what’s really important. I think it’s worked out for me, and I’ll continue to do that. Now that I’m a head coach, I’m going to be the best head coach I can be. That’s the basis in trying to leading this program to be one of the best in the country.”

 

On who he’s learned from

“I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve been around a lot of great football coaches. You go back to when I first started at San Francisco – George Siefert and Ray Rhodes and Pete Carroll came in. I had the opportunity to be with Coach Carroll for five years, and he’s a very positive influence in my life to this day. I had the opportunity to work with Mike Sherman in Green Bay. We know all the success he has had. Frank Solich, when I came here, gave me the first introduction into college coaching again, which was an adjustment for me after being in the pros for nine years. Everybody knows everything of what Frank meant to this program. He was a great football coach and a great person. I learned a lot in that year. Obviously, I had the opportunity to coach with Bob Stoops down at Oklahoma. It’s hard to beat what he’s accomplished. There’s no one better. Then there’s head coach (Les) Miles and what we’ve been able to accomplish at LSU and the opportunities he gave me there. I’ve been very fortunate in my coaching career with the people I’ve been around and the success we’ve had. One of the things I’ve learned is that you win with quality people. You win with high-character people and doing things the right way and not trying to cheat the system and trying to work with shortcuts. It’s through hard work, it’s through perseverance, it’s through creating a great atmosphere where players and staff and everybody can come together and mesh and become a family and build something special together. That’s one thing you learn. You’re going to do it through hard work. There are no shortcuts to success. You have to put the work in and establish a trust and do it together. Fortunately, I’ve been around the types of people and the organizations that allow you to do that.”

 

On the expectations at Nebraska

“Honestly, I don’t really concern myself with expectations. That takes care of itself. This wouldn’t be a great job to take if there weren’t expectations. We expect to be good. I expect to be good. I expect to put a product on and off the field that this state will be proud of. That’s what’s important to me. I can’t concern myself with what everybody else wants or thinks or does. We have to do what we feel is necessary to have the product and a team that the state’s going to be proud of in every way. That’s on the field, off the field, in the classroom. Wins and losses will obviously be a part of that, but there’s a lot more to it. I look forward to any kind of expectations. I’ve never gone into a job or been a part of a program where we don’t have our self-imposed expectations greater than what the fans out there are thinking. I look forward to any challenges that people lay for us.”

 

On his coaching style

“Obviously, I will be very involved in the defense, even to the point where I’m sure I’ll be calling the defense in the foreseeable future. That’s something I enjoy and I have a passion for. It’s part of who I am as a coach. But I want to be involved in every aspect of the team. Even as a defensive coordinator, you all know I was a walk-around coordinator. I think that one of keys of being a leader and managing is being able to have involvement and have your influence, but not be overbearing. A lot of people allow the men who work for you to do their job, because if you don’t have the type of people working for you that you can’t allow them to do their jobs, then you need to hire new people. I think that’s the key. There’s got to be a balance there. I have to know what’s going on and I have to have my influence, but at the same time I have to give people room to cultivate their own positions, do their job and have their own little style, but in the frame of work that we set forth in the type of culture we want to have. So I do not want to be overbearing, but at the same time I want certain things done in certain ways. There’s some give and take there.”

 

On the offensive style he will implement

“That will work itself out in time. It’s too early to really answer that question. That will take care of it self. We will be very multiple. That’s one thing that’s one of my strengths, is as a coach in being on defense. I’ve defended a lot of different types of offenses. I understand the things that will give defenses problems. Hopefully I will be able to communicate that with our offensive coordinator and make sure that we can create a lot of those problems for the defense.

 

“They’ve done a lot of good things on offense around here as of late. They’ve been moving the football, so I don’t expect any drastic, crazy, wholesale changes, but there will be some different wrinkles. Time will tell on that. It’s a little early to definitely say ‘This is what we’re going to do.’”

 

On what he will tell the recruits who have seen the coaching change

“That you have the opportunity to come and play for the most special university in the country. We want to challenge them and ask them if they want to come be part of something special, because that’s what we’re looking to create here.”

 

On how he has prepared himself to become a head coach

“That’s been going on since about 1993. I joke, but at the same time who I am and what I’ve become as a coach and what I continue to grow as is really a product of being around a lot of different influences and a lot of different philosophies. And learning what to do and what not to do, and along the way evaluating ‘How would I do it?’, if I was in that situation. And that changes, because you can constantly run into situations that are new to you. You have to think about it, evaluate it and think ‘If I become that guy, what would I do in that situation?’ That’s a constant process that’s been going on for a long time and one that will continue to go on. Like I said, I feel I am very fortunate to have Coach Osborne here, because when things come up that I’m not sure of, or that I’m not sure what the right decision is, I’ll have somebody that’s as good as there ever was to walk the sidelines to bounce things off of. That’s one of the things that I cherish about being given this opportunity. It’s very unique.”

 

On a future athletic director replacing Tom Osborne and his trust toward Osborne

“I trust him, or I wouldn’t be here. That’s a huge thing for me. I trust that Coach Osborne had the right intentions when he hired me and believed in me. It would be unfair of me to really ask him that question because I’m not sure if he knows, but one thing I know about Coach Osborne is that he has a tremendous love for the University of Nebraska and he wants the right things to happen. Knowing that, I know he’ll make the decision that’s right. If I do my job, then whoever comes in (as athletic director) shouldn’t affect me down the line anyway.”

 

On what he knows about the current Husker team

“Not a lot. But I obviously know a lot of the names. I haven’t seen them on film and I didn’t watch them play much, obviously being in a different conference. But I look forward to working with them and making them better. I’m sure there’s a tremendous amount of talent here. This is Nebraska. My job is to take them all and get them to come together as a group and a family and make them as good as I can. That’s what our staff is here to do.”

 

On his decision to start coaching at Nebraska immediately

“We need to get on the road and get recruiting. The dead period starts right around the 17th I believe, so that’s a short amount of time. We need to get a lot done in that amount of time. Really it was the right thing and the right way to go. I’m ready to get started and get on the road to sell the University of Nebraska.”

 

On his involvement in recruiting as LSU and now recruiting as a head coach

“When I was at LSU, I kind of had almost a head coach’s role to a certain extent in how we recruited because I didn’t have an area per say. I was going to help close (commitments) and see defensive guys. I’ve been in that situation and I feel that it’s one of my strengths to be able to go into a home. One thing I think they (the recruits) know is that I’m going to be honest. I’m not going to try and sell something that isn’t true. I’m going to lay it on the line and let them know how it is and what’s going to be expected of them and what we have to offer. That’s one of my strengths. We’re going to be honest all along the way and sell the University of Nebraska for what it is. And that’s a special place and I think that’s an easy sell.”

 

On changing his emotion and passion now that he’s the head coach

“I’m going to be who I am. I’m not going to change. Bo Pelini’s not going to change. Along the way, you learn things. You learn and make mistakes and learn some things you can do and some things you can’t do. I’ve grown and I’ve made mistakes along the way. I’ll be the first one to admit that. I’ll continue to learn from them. It makes you better along the way. I believe that’s the case. The heart and soul of who I am and what I believe in, that won’t change. You just have to channel it in different ways at times. Like I said, you grow and learn and become better as a person. And I believe that’s happened.”

 

On if he looks back at the the 2003 Alamo Bowl win over Michigan State

“That was a long time ago. That was a special night. There was a lot of emotion and a lot of it didn’t have to do with me. There were a lot of things going on with a lot of people involved. What I’ve really enjoyed is the last couple of weeks. I wish I could respond to them or even pay attention to them, but that was the amount of support in phone calls and e-mails and whatever different ways of communication from this state (with) even the possibility of me coming back. And I appreciate that, because I wasn’t here a long time. I want to say this. A large reason why I’m standing here today because I want to make sure I give credit where credit is due is Coach Solich. I respect the job that he did. I wouldn’t be standing here today if it wasn’t for Frank Solich giving me the opportunity to come back into college football at such a special place and to be a defensive coordinator. I think people along the way I have forgotten how important he was to the University of Nebraska and what he did over a long period of time. I want to make sure I give credit where credit is due because sometimes I don’t think Frank gets the credit for everything he’s done for this place.”

 

On the importance of the walk-on program

“I think it’s important because it’s a very big part of what the University of Nebraska is and will continue to be. Like I said, one of the unique aspects of this job and the University is everything it means to the whole state. So the more young men and the more people and the more towns you get involved and have represented on your football team and in your program around your state is going to keep building strengths. Obviously you don’t have enough scholarships to do that, so the more walk-ons and the more people you bring into your program with that passion and that desire to be a part of the Husker football program, the stronger you’re going to be and the stronger the state’s going to be because of it. I believe it’s extremely important. It’s something we’re going to cultivate. I don’t know what’s happened over the last few years and I’m not really worried about that. I’m not going to talk about it because I (am not) educated on what’s happened here the last couple of years. What I’m worried about is the here and now and where we’re headed in the future.”

 

On the type of growing pains he might expect as a head coach

“I don’t know. You’ll have to ask me that a year from now. If I was going to go through them, I probably wouldn’t experience them because I would probably address it in advance. Like I said, circumstances are going to present themselves and there are going to be things that happen that you necessarily aren’t looking to have to address. That’s life. But luckily I’m going to have a great support system, staff and people around me that want me to be successful and are behind me. That’s the most important thing. I’ve said for a long time, to go be a head football coach it’s not necessarily the place, it’s the people. And to make sure you’re working for people you want to work with. People you can trust. People you believe in and believe in you. That’s why I believe this is a special opportunity for me because I believe I have that here at the University of Nebraska and my job is now to make sure that people look back in years and let them know that they made the right decision. I will give every effort to make the people of Nebraska proud.”

 

On recruiting challenges in the next two months

“There’s a lot that has to be done as far as recruiting goes. That’s trying to keep the young men that the University of Nebraska has made a commitment to up to this point and evaluating where we need to go from there. It’s going to be a process of everyone getting their collective efforts together and making sure we head this thing in the right direction. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done in the recruiting aspect of things. We’ll see where it goes.”