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Nebraska is not insane for firing Bo Pelini

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Consistently good but never great with Bo Pelini at the helm, Nebraska needed to get out of the rut.

Nebraska isn't totally insane for firing Bo Pelini. Seven seasons of Pelini at the helm yielded no conference championships in either the Big 12 or the Big Ten, a losing record against ranked teams, and an unofficial residence in Orlando as the designated 9-3 or 8-4 team bound for the Capital One bowl. (Most likely against Georgia.) (No one ever needs to see a Georgia/Nebraska bowl game ever again.)

It is hard to say precisely what the peak was for Pelini. It could be 2009, when Ndamukong Suh singlehandedly destroyed Mizzou before the Huskers came within one extremely contested second of beating Texas in the Big 12 Championship. 2012 might be up there, too, when the Huskers came back in four different Big Ten games behind Taylor Martinez's frenetic running, only to lose to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Both of those teams had something in common: they went 10-4. Pelini also produced teams that went 10-4, or 9-4, and did so with an uncanny consistency.

So it's not like Nebraska, after seven years of this, doesn't know what they just left behind. They also know what the situation in Lincoln had become for Pelini: a place where his private frustrations wound up getting leaked in the media, and where the coach would show up with a cat to the spring game because he is funny, and also clearly didn't care much what anyone thought of him anymore. It is not like Bo Pelini was covertly asking to be fired. Rather, he was quoted last year as explicitly saying that he didn't care if they did.

It might be a case of the most predictable motivations, sure. Nebraska may still believe they can do better than 10-4 despite running a football program in a state with a population base just a bit larger than the city of Philadelphia. There are other programs with similar profiles who routinely outperform expectations. Bill Snyder has a JUCO pipeline set up in tiny Manhattan, Kansas. Tennessee, another program whose glories all bear expiration dates from the 1990s, is now pulling elite talent to Knoxville under Butch Jones. It can be done, and it's not insane for Nebraska to believe it can be done in Lincoln.

It's also not insane to assume Nebraska knows what they are. They know that Tom Osborne's walk-on program is dead, and that the triple-option factory is dead forever, and that other programs now have weight rooms and recruiters with Florida connections and all the other things Nebraska leveraged to create the Big Red Machine of the 1990s. They know better than anyone at this point that it's not 1995.

Nebraska fans also know what they had: a coach who'd hit a kind of opulent rut, and was stuck in it, and who after seven years was as tired of them as they were of him. Nebraska, at the very least, wants what anyone wants coming out of a long, tumultuous relationship: a new variety of underwhelming.