LINCOLN, Neb. -- As reporters questioned Nebraska defensive coordinator Bo Pelini about his ideas for the Cornhuskers football program, Pelini stopped three times to remind them that his title is interim head coach.
Pelini made it clear Sunday that it's his hope that he gets the
job on a permanent basis.
"I've said over and over that I know I'm ready to be a head
coach," said Pelini, who turns 36 on Dec. 13.
Pelini was tapped by athletic director Steve Pederson to lead
the Huskers through the still-to-be-determined bowl game.
Pederson said assistant head coach Turner Gill also has
expressed interest in succeeding the fired Frank Solich as head
A national search is under way, with the hope that a new head
coach is named quickly, Pederson said.
Pederson bypassed the chain of command in naming Pelini interim
head coach. Solich had promoted Gill from quarterbacks coach to
assistant head coach in January.
Pederson praised Gill for his contributions and said that Gill
would be given consideration for the permanent job. But Pederson
said he liked the energy and enthusiasm Pelini has brought to the
program this year.
"I don't want anyone to read anything into this," Pederson
said. "I've made no commitments to Bo, he's made no commitment to
Pelini and Pederson have known each other since Pelini played
safety for Ohio State from 1987-90. At the time, Pederson was
recruiting coordinator at Ohio State.
"He was a smart, aggressive, decisive player, and I feel like
right now, in this unusual situation, that Bo will do an excellent
job of handling this program," Pederson said.
Asked what he would bring to the job if he were named Solich's
replacement, Pelini said: "I'm gonna win. We're gonna win. We're
going to be about excellence. I believe this team will play exactly
the way our defense has played this year, and that's with a lot of
Pederson said he has a list of candidates in mind for the job
but that it would be an open search.
He said the new coach will be able to retain or fire any or all
of the assistants currently on staff.
"There are no guarantees for anybody, and everybody knows
that," Pederson said.
Pelini joined the Huskers' staff Dec. 23 after spending nine
years as an NFL assistant, most recently with the Green Bay
Pelini's defense ranked first nationally early in the season and
now is 14th.