BATON ROUGE, La. -- Before new Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini
could return to LSU's sideline for one last game as defensive
coordinator, he and Tigers head coach Les Miles had to set a few
"I agreed that he could call the entire defense, call every
play," Miles said. "I also agreed that we would be ahead at the
end of the game and that if he called a defense that didn't allow
that to happen, then he would be relieved of duty immediately.
We've agreed that he will not wear an 'N' on his cap when he
coaches on the sidelines."
Apparently, Miles either isn't very worried about Pelini's dual
commitments or he's covering up his concerns with humor.
Whatever the case, Pelini, who returned to Baton Rouge for LSU's
first practice after final exams this week, said LSU has nothing to
worry about -- not even the fact that Pelini once played at Ohio
State, which will be LSU's opponent in the Allstate BCS Championship Game on Jan. 7.
"I played there and had a great experience there, but this is a
different time, place and situation," Pelini said. "I have a job
to do and that is part of being a professional. You have to have to
take your own emotions out of it. ... I owe a lot to LSU. I love
this place and the kids I coach. It's a different time and a
different place and right now I'm all about LSU."
Pelini is no stranger to big games. As an assistant coach in the
NFL, he helped the San Francisco 49ers win Super Bowl XXIX. He also
coached in numerous NFL playoff games with the New England Patriots
in the late 1990s and the Green Bay Packers earlier this decade
before returning to the college ranks as an assistant at Nebraska.
He spent one season with the Cornhuskers, taking over
temporarily as head coach for the 2003 Alamo Bowl, which Nebraska
won. He then moved on to Oklahoma, where he was an assistant on the
squad that lost to Southern California in the Orange Bowl for the
2004 national championship.
He arrived at LSU when Miles took over in 2005 and has been part
of a team that has now won 33 games during the past three seasons,
including lopsided triumphs over Miami in the 2005 Peach Bowl and
over Notre Dame in last season's Sugar Bowl.
Now, he gets his second shot to be part of his first college
national championship squad. His decision to temporarily wear two
hats has been questioned by many, but not by LSU players or by
Miles, who say they appreciate how Pelini's return shows that
coaching football still has a human, emotional side. It's not
always the cold, calculated business it seems to be when he
coaching carousel starts turning around this time of year.
"It's us and him recognizing that he's a part of our team and
until we saddle this one up and ride this last one out, he's with
us," Miles said. "It benefits not only us, our team, him, but
Nebraska. Their coach is coaching in a heck of a game. I just think
it's a win-win. ... I never thought of doing it any other way."
While LSU got a couple weeks off after the Southeastern
Conference title game for final exams, Pelini said he filled out
his Nebraska staff and got caught up, if not ahead, on watching
film of the Buckeyes by the time he got back to Baton Rouge. He
said he may make a few phone calls regarding business at Nebraska
during whatever down time he has, but otherwise will spend the next
few weeks preparing LSU's defense just as he has for the last two
"I'm no different now than I was at this time last year when
[LSU] was preparing for the game against Notre Dame," Pelini
asserted, adding that he doesn't really even feel like his head
coaching stint at Nebraska has begun yet. "I've been so focused on
accomplishing what I wanted to accomplish that I haven't had time
to sit back and enjoy it. That is for a different time when things
settle down. Right now, I'm not quite a head coach. Right now, I am
a defensive coordinator because that is what I am committed to
Defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey seems to understand Pelini's
decision as well as anyone. After all, Dorsey was a projected
first-round NFL draft pick last spring, but returned to LSU for a
final year of eligibility. One of the reasons he came back was his
belief that he could help LSU win it all. On some level, Pelini's
return is similar.
"It shows that his heart is with us," Dorsey said. "He could
easily just go to Nebraska ... but his heart is down here and we've
worked hard over the years. ... So that's the biggest thing. He's
coming back and it means a lot to us."