RojoBreakdown: Pelinis dismissal not about talent
So why did the Huskers play in just one conference title game while Wisconsin and Michigan State had three and two, respectively, with less talent? Why does Minnesota have as many top two division finishes as Nebraska in the past four years? Why has NU finished better than third in its division just once?
The answers aren't easy, but it's clear that not all of Pelini's recruits reached their potential. Randy Gregory was the only of 26 four-stars recruited in the past four years that made an all-conference team.
Quarterback has been a particularly prickly position. Since 2009, Nebraska has signed Cody Green (2009 four-star, transferred to Tulsa), Brion Carnes (2010, transferred to Northern Iowa), Jamal Turner (2011 four-star, moved to receiver), Tommy Armstrong (2012 three-star, current starter, 51.8 career completion percentage) and Johnny Stanton (2013 three-star, one career appearance). 2013 signees Zack Darlington (three-star) and AJ Bush are both redshirting. If not for a 2009 athlete with speed to burn named Taylor Martinez, the Huskers might have been in real trouble.
The Huskers have hit some home runs at running back, defensive back and wide receiver, but have had less success at tight end (though Cethan Carter shows promise), offensive line (none of the 17 commits from 2009-2013 has made an All-Big Ten squad) and defensive line (none from the 2010 and 2011 classes started more than five games). It's tough to say development is Nebraska's problem when the Huskers remain among the Big Ten leaders in all-conference selections and winning percentage.
Yet they were never able to reach the heights that Michigan State and Wisconsin did, despite having more talent on paper. Much like Iowa and Michigan, the Huskers were unable to turn recruiting success into conference titles, and all three might be looking for new coaches soon if not for Kirk Ferentz's hefty buyout.
That's why Eichorst's decision hasn't been met with great outcry. In the past four years, Nebraska has finished third in its division three times and got blown out in the one title game it did make. The Huskers have lost by at least 13 points 10 times since entering the Big Ten and are 2-7 against ranked foes over the past three seasons.
Pelini had talent and won a lot of games. But his inability get that talent to the next level is likely what cost him his job and made Eichorst's tough decision a bit easier to make.
size="4">Iowa receiving breakdown
For one of the first times all season, Nebraska's receiving breakdown looked like the Huskers hoped it would. Cethan Carter had his first two receptions since the Fresno State game, and both were critical to NU scoring drives. Brandon Reilly caught a critical 35-yard pass to help Nebraska tie the game in regulation, and Taariq Allen snuck behind the defense for a 34-yard touchdown. The complimentary receivers were given some chances to make plays and they finally made them.
It was a bit of a quiet day for the stars, but Bell made his three catches count. Two of his grabs went for scores, and two came in overtime. He made the type of big-time plays he was expected to in his senior campaign. Though Bell will again fall short of his goal to become Nebraska's first 1,000-yard receiver, his season has been nothing to scoff at. He's battled through a series of injuries, most recently a concussion, and still leads the team in yards and targets.
Drops: Abdullah, Cotton
size="3">Season receiving breakdown
Drops: Moore 7, Bell 5, Cotton 4, Reilly 3, Westerkamp 3, Allen 2, Abdullah, Hovey, Turner
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