It was announced this morning that Bo Pelini was no longer the head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Some early opinions from national pundits believe that Nebraska is crazy for letting Bo go. Nebraska is stuck in the 90s; today’s game just has more parity, they say.
Despite winning 9 games each of his seven seasons at the helm, Nebraska fans have been disappointed by the lack of competitiveness in big games. Sure there is some consistency in winning 9 games a season, but not all wins are created equal. To examine this issue from a slightly different perspective, I scraped AP Poll data from collegepollarchive.com. The Associated Press (AP) provides weekly rankings of the top 25 NCAA teams in DI college football. Rankings are compiled by polling sportswriters and broadcasters from across the nation. Each voter provides his own ranking of the top 25 teams, and the individual rankings are then combined to produce the national ranking by giving a team 25 points for a first place vote, 24 for a second place vote, and so on down to 1 point for a twenty-fifth place vote. The graph below examines Nebraska’s weekly point total over the past two decades. The first bar in a season is the preseason point total and the last one is the final ranking point total.
The notable takeaway here seems to be that despite winning 9 games a season, Bo’s teams were marred with inconsistent rankings in the AP: there are multiple spikes up and a down over short periods of time. As Husker fans know well, this indicates that despite a few points of solid play, Bo’s teams ultimately all failed to reach a level of consistent national recognition that even Solich was able to attain for a time. But hey at least Bo was a vast improvement over Callahan! Only time will tell if the new coach will be able to say the same thing about his predecessor.