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Nebraska shows foresight with Pelini deal

After all the Jim Tressel/NCAA news, spring game recaps and the like, I haven't had a chance to weigh in on Nebraska's revised contract for coach Bo Pelini.

Nebraska gave Pelini a new five-year deal that includes a $425,000 raise, bringing his salary to $2.775 million. Pelini will make more than $3 million per year beginning in 2014. Boasting a 29-12 record in three seasons at Nebraska, Pelini becomes the Big Ten's third highest-paid coach behind Tressel and Iowa's Kirk Ferentz.

Huskers athletic director Tom Osborne knows a thing or two about football coaches' contracts, and while things have changed since he walked the sidelines, Dr. Tom showed good foresight with this move. Pelini didn't ask for a new deal and seems committed to Nebraska, but he's a good coach who soon could be in high demand, so the deal makes sense.

One thing Osborne said really stood out to me:

"The thing I began to realize in looking at contracts is that people from outside the Nebraska athletic department, when they look at a coach's salary, aren't interested in a five-year contract and what you're going to make in 2014, 2015," Osborne told The Associated Press. "They're interested in what you make right now."

"They" also will try to lure away coaches with the prospect of more money up front. While loyalty and administrative support matters to coaches, money talks, especially in a sport driven by it.

Osborne is a realist, telling the AP, "I don't think any contract locks anybody up." But the new contract reaffirms Nebraska's commitment to Pelini, especially at a time when there's a lot of speculation about a potential vacancy at Ohio State.

Pelini played safety for the Buckeyes and hails from Youngstown, Ohio. If Tressel steps down or is forced out, Pelini's name will be mentioned as a potential candidate. He might not be among the top names, but it's hard to imagine he won't be in the discussion, especially if the Huskers perform well in their first Big Ten go-round.

The Lincoln Journal Star's Steven M. Sipple writes:

Great leaders often have excellent anticipatory ability. They're a few steps ahead of most folks. Sure, Pelini might be down the list of candidates if Ohio State had to go looking for a head coach right now. But perhaps Osborne, the Nebraska athletic director, anticipates the Huskers enjoying a strong first season in the Big Ten. Maybe he understands the Big Ten has a lot of good teams, but no great ones. Bottom line, it's easy to imagine Pelini's crew capturing the Legends Division and winning the first Big Ten championship game. Imagine how quickly Pelini's stock would rise in that scenario.

"When someone thinks about making somebody a better offer ... I just felt we needed to make [Bo's] contract a little more contemporary and more consistent with what other people are doing, so that's what we did," Osborne told me last week, speaking in general terms -- not about Ohio State specifically.

If you believe in your head coach, I say pay him like you believe in him, which Osborne did.

I'd add that if you're a big-boy program in a big-boy league, act like it.

Nebraska is moving to the Big Ten, and Osborne has talked about the increased financial commitment the athletic department must make to compete in its new league. Memorial Stadium is being expanded, and a new basketball arena is on the way.

Pelini's new deal shows Nebraska means business.