Bowl is first game for Huskers' interim coach

SAN ANTONIO -- Bo Pelini doesn't view his Alamo Bowl matchup
against Michigan State as an audition to become Nebraska's
full-time coach.

"I'm not concerning myself with that right now," Pelini said
Thursday at a joint news conference with Spartans coach John L.
Smith. "It's not about an audition -- it's about handling the job
I've been given."

Pelini was promoted from defensive coordinator to interim coach
for No. 22 Nebraska after Frank Solich was fired Nov. 29 despite a
9-3 record this season.

The Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29 will be his one chance to show the
demanding Cornhuskers athletic department what he can do in an
actual game.

Nebraska athletic director Steve Pederson, said that "anyone
who doesn't want to win the national championship shouldn't bother
applying for this job."

Pelini, an NFL assistant coach for nine years, most recently
with Green Bay, is doing what he can to keep his team's morale up
and expectations on him down.

"Our program is a lot bigger than Bo Pelini," he said.
"Whatever happens, happens. I'm just going to control what I

It's hard to know how much, if any, bowl-game pressure Smith is

The experts picked Michigan State, 4-8 in 2002, to again
languish among the bottom dwellers of the Big Ten this season. But
the first-year coach led the Spartans to an 8-4 record.

"I'm a little dumbfounded by what our guys have done," said
Smith, who tied for fifth in the Associated Press Coach of the Year
balloting. The award was won by LSU's Nick Saban, who left East
Lansing for Baton Rouge in 2000.

"We didn't have a lot of depth," said Smith, hired in December
after going 41-21 with five bowl appearances in five seasons at
Louisville. "We had to bring out a few mirrors to get through the

Michigan State was ranked ninth with a 7-1 record before
consecutive losses to bowl-bound Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin
knocked the Spartans out of the Top 25. The team finished with a
win over Penn State.

But as much as Smith wants to cap the season with a win, he's
also determined to let his players have a memorable Texas

"We're going to take them out to the ranch, let them ride
horses," he said. "Some of our guys have never seen a horse."