Is Bo Pelini interested in the Penn State head-coaching vacancy?
Depends on whom you believe.
For the second consecutive day, media reports out of Pennsylvania mentioned Pelini's name in connection with the Penn State job. And for the second consecutive day, Pelini denied he has had any contact with Penn State about the position.
"The irresponsible reports that are going on out there aren't true," Pelini told reporters in Lincoln following Tuesday's practice. "I have not interviewed for Penn State and I'm not saying anymore on that."
The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News' David Jones tweeted Monday afternoon that Pelini has had discussions with Penn State officials but isn't in the mix for the job. Pelini denied having any contact through a school spokesman and Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne said he hadn't heard from anyone at Penn State wishing to speak with Pelini.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ron Musselman reported today that Pelini met with Penn State acting athletic director Dave Joyner last week in Texas but is no longer considered to be in the mix, according to a source close to the search.
The Post-Gazette reported prompted Tuesday's denial by Pelini. Penn State sports information director Jeff Nelson tweeted earlier today that the school interviewed only one candidate for the position last Friday. Lions interim coach Tom Bradley confirmed he was the candidate.
What do we make of the reports and the Pelini denials? Pelini also squashed a report from Columbus last month that he had interviewed for Ohio State's coaching vacancy.
This is what we at ESPN like to call the silly season, where rumors run rampant regarding coaches and jobs. I also know both Jones and Musselman have covered Penn State for a long time and are tapped into the search there. They know their stuff when it comes to PSU.
It seems odd that Pelini would want to leave Nebraska for Penn State, given all the uncertainty in State College right now. Ohio State seemed to make more sense, given his ties to the school (he played for the Buckeyes) and to the state (he's from Youngstown, Ohio).
Osborne has been committed to Pelini and understands better than anyone the connection between continuity and success. Pelini has a great gig at Nebraska, but he also seems to struggle with the criticism that comes with the territory in a state where Husker football means everything.
The Lincoln Journal Star's Steven M. Sipple outlined why Pelini would appeal to Penn State, citing, among other things, Nebraska's academic improvement under his watch.
Sipple also added this:
I sometimes wonder how Pelini reacts to fan criticism in the wake of this year's 9-3 regular-season record. Remember, he was stung in 2003 when he was part of the Nebraska staff jettisoned after producing the same record. Some Husker fans no doubt feel flattered when Pelini comes up in speculation regarding prominent jobs. Other folks no doubt become annoyed. As I wrote last December, get used to it.
Nebraska fans aren't too familiar with their coaches being mentioned for other jobs, as the Omaha World-Herald's Tom Shatel writes today.
Perhaps Huskers backers should check in with their pals in Iowa to see what it's like.