KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When Nebraska's players talk about first-year head coach Bo Pelini, they use the words "players' coach" to describe his personality.
It's clear Pelini's no-nonsense, blue-collar attitude has rubbed off on the Huskers as they get ready to start the 2008 season. Pelini carries himself with a passion for the game that you just don't see in very many coaches.
Senior offensive lineman Matt Slauson joked that there have been some days where it looks like Pelini wants to jump on the field to take a couple of snaps with the defense.
"He's so easy to play for because he has the attitude of a player," Slauson said. "He's always in there head butting people, slapping guys around. Sometimes you think he's going to step in and play a few snaps."
As a player at Ohio State, Pelini was a two-year starter from 1989-90 and named a co-captain of the Buckeyes as a senior.
Pelini said he enjoyed playing the game of football as much as anyone, and when he coaches he takes that same passion to field each day. However, he joked that his body probably wouldn't hold up very long if he had to play a few snaps today.
"I enjoyed playing the game and the great thing about this and sports in general is just competition," Pelini said. "I like to compete and I enjoy that aspect. It's in my personality. Now it's from a coaching standpoint and it's the same thing. I like to compete and I like the relationships and I like getting in there with the players and getting to know them.
"When they are having success, I'm having success and I'm enjoying it. There's nothing better for me as a coach than to see one of my guys develop and start to develop understandings and growth."
Senior defensive end Barry Turner said what he enjoys about Pelini is how involved he is personally with each player off the field.
Turner said the fact that Pelini cares about what's happening in every player's day-to-day life outside of football is something that has really impressed him over the past few months.
"He's been intimately involved with my family and that's probably the biggest impact he's made in my life," Turner said. "He really cares about my family and how I'm doing as a person. As a player, I can't tell you how important that is."
When senior quarterback Joe Ganz talked about Pelini, he said "he's everything this University needed."
What makes things even more unique about Pelini is what you see is what you get. As Pelini continues to rebuild the confidence of this football team heading into 2008, he said there are no shortcuts or magic formulas to get things to where they need to be other than hard work.
"If we just stay on track and do the things I believe in, their confidence will grow," Pelini said. "I don't believe that me going out there and trying to have some gimmick to try and develop their confidence is going to work. It happens over time as they develop more confidence. I'm not into gimmicks. It's about good old fashioned hard work, learning, being disciplined, putting in the work and the rest will take care of itself."