KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Bo Pelini was once asked why taking a job at slumping Nebraska in 2003 would be better than the NFL, where he had spent the six previous seasons.
"Because I'm here," he said.
With that, the then-unknown defensive coordinator announced himself to the college football world. That world hasn't been the same since.
|Darry Beckwith (one INT vs. Tenn.) is part of Pelini's top-ranked LSU defense. (US PRESSWIRE)|
And yet there's something missing. Something big. A promotion. If the ultra-talented Pelini wasn't so, oh, ultra-confident he might be a head coach by now.
"I have a fire burning in me," he said. "It just makes me hungrier."
Not that Pelini is through chasing that dream. His name pops up from time to time, lately at Michigan State. He's still a young man at age 38.
But LSU is his third job in four years. He doesn't burn bridges, but he might choose the wrong ones to cross. In that one and only year with Nebraska, the Huskers won 10 games. The defense tied a school record by causing 47 turnovers and led the nation in pass efficiency defense.
Then Frank Solich was fired.
In that one and only year, Pelini actually won that 10th game. After Solich was let go, Pelini had become so popular, so valuable that he was named interim coach for the bowl game. Nebraska then beat Michigan State, but Pelini was given what can only be called a courtesy interview before Bill Callahan was hired.
Watching the footage after Pelini found out that fact, it's fair to say he stormed out of the Nebraska football complex, ultra-disappointed that he didn't get the job at age 35.
In his one and only year at Oklahoma (2004), the Sooners played in the BCS title game. His unit finished sixth in rushing defense. But there was something about having to share the job as a co-coordinator that made him want to venture out again.
But on Saturday his work history was ancient history. LSU came into the game having given up six touchdowns all season, only five by the first-teamers, three of those in one game to Florida.