If Jim Harbaugh walks away from the reported $8 million-a-year contract awaiting him at Michigan, the school may want to consider a more untraditional route.

Both Kevin Trahan of SBNation and Chris Emma of CBSChicago.com have suggested the Wolverines take a look at Coastal Carolina coach Joe Moglia, and the idea is quickly gaining traction.

Moglia's story reads like something out of Hollywood. A football coach for 16 years from 1968 to 1983, Moglia stepped away from the sidelines to enter the business world. He rose up the ranks at Merrill Lynch before leaving to take the role of CEO at TD Ameritrade. In seven years at TD Ameritrade, Moglia helped the company increase its market capitalization from $700 million to $12 billion.

But Moglia still had a burning desire to coach, and after stepping down from TD Ameritrade he took a volunteer position at Nebraska under former coach Bo Pelini. After a few seasons he was named coach of the UFL's Omaha Nighthawks, where he spent one year before getting the job at Coastal Carolina.

Moglia has found immediate success at Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers have gone 31-9 the past three seasons and tied for first in the Big South conference each year.

Of course, running an FCS team is much different than heading one of the most storied teams in the country. With that said, college football programs are becoming more and more like businesses, and even respected tacticians like Pelini and Brady Hoke committed publicity fumbles that accelerated their firings. Moglia may not have the experience of other candidates, but he boasts a superb business background that makes him at least an intriguing interview.




Oregon's Marcus Mariota is viewed as the heavy favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this weekend. He's not the first Heisman winner to have emerged from relative obscurity in high school, but Mariota's uphill battle is more than just a failure to recognize talent.

A Hawaii native, Mariota was a casualty of geography. According to The Wall Street Journal, college coaches hate making the long trek to Hawaii. That meant only marginal interest for Mariota from college football's top division.

In the end, the quarterback only received one scholarship offer. So he signed on the dotted line and went to Oregon.

It's not that Hawaii is a state barren of any football talent. During the past five years, the island state has sent more than 50 recruits rated three stars or better to Division I programs on the mainland.

But those destinations tend to be on the West Coast -- East Coast coaching staffs see Hawaii as an even greater challenge, both in terms of traveling out to meet with recruits and in regards to enticing those athletes to move an extra few thousand miles across the country.

Programs like USC and UCLA tend to get the most mileage out of Hawaii as a recruiting hotbed, in part because the trip is short for both coaches, players and players' families.

Lineman are a particular hot product of Hawaii. Quarterbacks, not so much. And when coaches do make the trip, they can't exactly hit dozens of prospects at once.

In the end, it's a lot of time and resources invested into only a few possible recruits.

So recruiting Hawaii continues to serve as a high-risk gamble. But for Oregon, it's a gamble that has paid off dearly. And maybe other programs will think twice before conceding the talent blooming out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Bob Bowlsby knows that something needs to change. In that sense, the Big 12 conference commissioner is just like every casual observer of college football.

Acknowledging that there's a problem is a good first step, but it's hardly a solution -- or even a blueprint for making things better.

No one knows this better than the schools in the Big 12. The exclusion of its conference champions from college football's inaugural playoff is evidence that the Big 12 hasn't recovered from its leadership failure of years past.

The ghost of Dan Beebe is still haunting flyover country.

***

Dan Beebe didn't love all his children equally. That's the original sin that brought us all here.

More than three years after he was essentially forced to resign as Big 12 conference commissioner, it's impossible to overlook the preferential treatment Beebe gave the Texas Longhorns -- then and now the most revenue-rich college athletic program in the country.

Beebe's preferential treatment of Texas did not go overlooked by other members of the Big 12. As his tenure wore on after his hiring in 2007, some member institutions -- particularly Nebraska and Texas A&M -- grew tired of being in a conference where one school was more important than the other.

Beebe would never say this, of course. And naturally, there were other shortcomings of his leadership that serve as evidence Beebe came with an expiration date.

Take television money. As other conferences began building their own dedicated television networks, the Big 12 dragged its heels. Schools in the Big Ten were raking in around $15 million more than schools in the Big 12, thanks to better TV deals and the young-but-promising Big Ten Network.

Beebe could have worked to build the Big 12's own custom cable network. Instead, he let Texas enter in to its own agreement with ESPN that jumpstarted the Longhorn Network -- a cable operation providing 24-hour coverage of Texas Longhorns sports.

The move gave Texas an easy $15 million in its pocket -- along with unmatched exposure as the only college sports department with its own television network -- while the rest of the Big 12 sat idly by. The Longhorn Network effectively reduced the value of any television package the Big 12 might pursue, adversely affecting the already-slim TV revenues earned by the other 11 member schools.

Not to mention the Longhorn Network reeked of Beebe's Texas favoritism.

Even so, Beebe claims he was scapegoated by the Big 12 schools. Last year, he spoke at a panel hosted by the University of Texas -- the only school he did any favors for as Big 12 commish -- and painted a picture of unfair treatment by the rest of the league:

"I feel like the conference was driving over a cliff, and they turned the bus around and ran me over," Beebe said.

Beebe contended that he could have saved the Big 12 from further disarray by convincing schools to adopt a Grant of Rights. It's a deal that guarantees if a school did leave the Big 12, its media rights and the TV revenues generated would remain with the Big 12 until the period of coverage ended.

The Big 12 does have such an agreement in place, which runs the length of its current TV contracts and serves as a strong financial deterrent to any school leaving the conference.

But the Grant of Rights was not adopted until after Beebe was out of the league.

"It's sweet because hopefully [the Grant of Rights] will be what binds this conference together and I have a great love for the conference," he said. "But it's bitter because had we taken these actions previously we may have been able to avoid the problems that have occurred."

This outlook from Beebe is at once entirely correct and completely wrong. It's true because a grant of rights might have helped keep the league together, and without Beebe losing his job.

But it's absurd for Beebe to argue that merely suggesting the move is a virtue of his leadership. The gap between proposing an idea and bringing it to fruition is actually incredibly large, not razor-thin as Beebe wants to suggest.

If anything, Beebe's acknowledgement that he wanted to install a grant of rights but was unable to do so is the perfect example of his failed leadership. He couldn't run the Big 12 because he couldn't get the league to do the things necessary to its survival.

And so Beebe left the Big 12 in 2011 by "mutual agreement." He was replaced by interim commissioner Chuck Neinas, who managed the league competently and calmed the rough waters before ceding his position to Bob Bowlsby the following May.

If you think the damage inflicted by Dan Beebe is in the rear-view mirror, think again. Here's Bowlsby talking to The Oklahoman in October about the Big 12's television opportunities given that one of its member schools has its own dedicated network:

"The Longhorn Network is a boulder in the road. It really is. They did something that almost no other institution in the country could do because of the population in the state, and we’re looking at some way to try and morph that around a little bit."

***

On that same panel where Beebe implied he was unfairly blamed for the Big 12's misfortunes, Bowlsby said the league believed its smaller size was a strength. The Big 12 eventually stabilized at 10 teams after losing Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri and Texas A&M while adding TCU and West Virginia.

Its on-field football product remained strong even with the loss of a conference championship game. The NCAA requires conferences to have 12 member institutions in order to play a championship game, which disqualified the Big 12.

Nevertheless, it found success. In addition to Texas and Oklahoma as the league's powerhouse programs, Baylor rose to national prominence, aided by the exposure of Robert Griffin III's Heisman Trophy win. Kansas State rose up from its recent doldrums to become a consistent Top 25 team. And this year, TCU asserted itself among college football's elite.

The money has been there for the Big 12, too. According to Forbes, the conference ranks fifth in the country -- trailing the other four major conferences -- with $262 million in revenue every year.

But when broken down on a per-school payout, the Big 12's $26 million in annual revenue is surpassed only by the Big Ten, where members made about half a million more than Big 12 schools in 2014.

And despite all that, the Big 12 has been turned upside down. Exclusion from the inaugural college football playoff has the conference and its members distraught about what that might mean for the future.

Playoff committee chairman Jeff Long acknowledged that the conference was ultimately hurt by the lack of a conference championship game. Where other conference champions had to beat a ranked opponent on a neutral field, TCU spent the weekend beating up on lowly Iowa State.

Bowlsby had already made a sneaky play to help his conference gain representation, refusing to crown a single Big 12 champion -- which would have rightly been Baylor's, given the league rules -- because doing so would have hurt TCU's chances of making the playoff, given that the Horned Frogs were positioned higher in the playoff rankings.

That gamble blew up in Bowlsby's face. TCU fell out, and an impressive win by Baylor over then-No. 9 Kansas State wasn't enough to push it into the top four. Four of the five major conferences have a team in college football's inaugural playoff. The Big 12 is the odd league out.

And so the message is this: Without a conference championship game, the Big 12 will be last in line for the national championship playoffs. Every year, the season will start with Big 12 schools at a disadvantage.

Previously content with its circumstances, the Big 12 is restless. A league known first and foremost for its football can't afford to handicap its members.

The task of solving the problem -- and fast -- falls on Bowlsby, whose tenure may be defined by what he does to rehabilitate the league. While member schools may not be ready to jump ship -- thank the Grant of Rights clause, which runs through 2025 along with the current TV deal with ESPN -- the Big 12 faces huge consequences if it can't appease the committee by reclaiming a conference title game, one way or another.

Think loss of branding strength, loss of TV appeal, reduced exposure, a future in which the best coaches jump ship for leagues where the national playoffs are easier to reach.

Bowslby has options. He can convince the NCAA to give the Big 12 a waiver that would allow a conference championship despite, giving its football teams a leg up without diluting the conference just for population's sake.

That appears to be Bowlsby's preference, and it sounds like he's working on other league commissioners to drum up support. But it's no sure thing, especially when supporting the Big 12 means increasing the competition for your own conference.

Or Bowlsby can add member schools that contribute to the conference's stature while elevating membership to the all-important 12 teams. The conference could once again live up to its name.

Adding schools will come with scrutiny, since the Big 12 doesn't want to cheapen its product -- both from an athletic and academic perspective. But inaction will cause its own damage, building upon the losses incurred under Beebe.

Three years after Dan Beebe, the Big 12 conference remains in a volatile state.

Does the Big 12 need to add more teams? That's a secondary concern. What it needs if a conference championship game. To get that, the Big 12 needs a great commissioner.

We'll soon find out if Bob Bowlsby is that leader. Until then, the ghost of Dan Beebe is watching.

Like Salvation Army bell ringers, it's the time of year when complaints about college football bowl games descend on our nation like a pitiless plague.

The whining is everywhere. And for all of the good reasons one might propose for trimming the annual bowl game slate, the most common complaint seems to center around the exhaustion of being forced to endure all 38 (39, if you count the title game) bowl games scheduled to air in the next month or so.

Torturous as that would be, no such mandate exists.

The second-most common complaint -- and one that actually has legs -- is that bowl games have been expanded to the point that they have been stripped of all meaning.

Thirty years ago, there were 16 bowl games. Thirty-two of Division-I's 112 teams made a bowl game, and the rest stayed home. There were a lot of teams with winning records that didn't get to sniff the postseason.

This year, 15 teams bowl-bound teams have managed just six wins. Thanks to its conference championship loss, Fresno State could end the season 6-8 by losing to Rice in the Hawaii Bowl.

And don't sleep on the Camellia Bowl, which pits Bowling Green vs. South Alabama.

That very sentence alone is enough to make a traditionalist go blind.

At the same time, the effects of bowl-mania are relatively benign -- at least as far as game itself is concerned. Yes, reaching a bowl game may carry less significance than it once did.

But who ever said all bowls carry the same merit? Reaching the Rose Bowl still means the same thing it did 30 years ago. If its value has been diluted, it's only because the new four-team playoff bracket is the primary attention-getter over the traditional big-name bowls.

Football programs don't exactly line the the stadium hallways with elaborate displays of TaxSlayer.com Bowl trophies. Nobody's jealous of making the Camelia Bowl -- other than the 50 teams who aren't making a bowl appearance, and even some of them would probably turn an offer down.

Thirty-nine bowl games exist because all of them generate revenue.

That's not the most inspiring genesis for holding a good ol' football game, granted. But it would be inconsistent to decide now, after years of allowing money-minded college athletic departments to fatten their revenues on the backs of athletes who haven't received one dime of extra compensation, that suddenly we are taking a stand and telling prospective bowl hosts to go shove it.

Bowl games make money, even if they they're terrible at passing on the benefits to participating schools -- a criticism best saved for a different day.

The important point is that schools continue to accept bowl invites because of the benefits they do see: the national TV exposure (a huge boon for smaller programs), the slight recruiting edge, and the excitement a bowl berth can stir in a fan base.


Of course, teams also get extra practice time to prep for a bowl game, which helps programs moving forward, although the benefits might be overstated by some.

Some schools fear the PR backlash of turning down a bowl invite -- particularly schools that struggle to gain such exposure during the regular season. Unfortunately, those very schools that toil in the shadows are usually the ones whose bowl bottom-line runs into the red.

Does the sum of these fringe benefits still fall short of justifying such a broad slate of bowl games? It depends on how you look at it. The quality of the bowl season product certainly seems to suffer, and yet the money it earns only grows bigger and bigger -- for the bowls and the networks broadcasting the games.

But bowl attendance has slipped in recent years. Bowl games have become commonplace for many schools from power conferences, and their fan bases are particularly disinterested in traveling 2,000 miles to watch a ho-hum matchup of underperforming teams.


Where such broad bowl offerings do make the most sense -- and I'm sure no one with any authority genuinely shares this perspective -- is in the way they honor a broad range of teams for having relative success in the regular season.

Inviting two-thirds of teams to bowl games is more in line with the spirit of amateur sports and college athletics.


Complaints aren't nearly as numerous about the college basketball tournament season, which has spawned not only the NCAA Tournament and the NIT, but also the CBI and the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.

These tournaments persist despite relatively low interest from most college basketball fans, marginal revenue opportunities, and -- unlikely football bowl games -- much higher rates of schools opting out of participation.

Yet no one really cares, perhaps because they exist on the periphery and through Internet broadcasts, while bowl season dominates ABC and ESPN for weeks on end.

Pitting mediocre teams in unappealing bowl games doesn't imperil the bowl season as a whole. Those teams show up, they play a game meaningful only to them, and they go home.

At worst, the games go down as a contest no one watches nor remembers. At best, they offer a brief thrill -- exciting for excitement's sake, free of any larger implications.

And if you don't care? No need to tune in.

-- Follow Jonathan Crowl on Twitter @jonathancrowl.

In the wake of an 0-10 season and facing serious accusations from 25 of his players, Columbia football coach Pete Mangurian has resigned.

A winless season and 21-game losing streak aren't going to foster many positive sentiments within a football team, granted. But at Columbia University, players took a decisive stand against their coach for a laundry list of grievances.

Topping the pile of accusations are charges that coach Pete Mangurian refused to follow proper concussion protocols and respect diagnoses of concussions in his players.

In a letter signed by 25 players and delivered to the university's president, players felt constant pressure to continue playing with a concussion.

"Pete Mangurian has consistently denied the diagnoses of concussions," the letter stated, according to the Columbia Spectator. "There are several players who will speak to the fact that Mangurian told them to return to practice, that they are faking their concussions, and that they are being soft if they sit out for their concussion injury."

This is only the latest of a string of serious problems for Columbia's football program. In addition to its rampant losing, one of his players was arrested for a hate crime earlier this year, and the team's starting quarterback quit the team halfway through the season.

One day after news of the letter broke, Mangurian has decided to leave his position. The former LSU defensive tackle was a longtime NFL assistant with the Broncos, Falcons, and Patriots, among other teams. He was also the head coach at Cornell from 1998 to 2000.

Outside of the various scandals he was facing, Mangurian wasn't able to get anything going for Columbia's football program on the field. After going 3-7 in his first season, the Lions have gone winless each of the past two seasons.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the university said it found no evidence that it failed to follow any medical protocol.

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After his dismissal as head coach of Nebraska, Bo Pelini wanted to say goodbye to his players. He found an off-campus location at Lincoln North Star high school where he could use the gymnasium to give one final talk to players and say goodbye to each one individually.

The evening was a healing one for many of the players, who found closure in hearing Pelini's perspective while getting the chance to wish him well. But for the staffer that gave Pelini access, the unapproved event is taking a bite out of his wallet.

The school district is fining the worker, who had a connection with Pelini, a fee of $262.50 for failing to go through the proper channels in approving Pelini's meeting. A spokesperson said the fine will be used to cover custodial and utilities costs associated with the event, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.

Administrators were allegedly unaware that Pelini would be using the school for his meeting.

Fortunately, Nebraska fans quickly came to the rescue of the staffer and started a fundraising campaign to cover the cost of the fee. In less than 24 hours, the campaign had already raised more than double the amount of the fine.

The campaign web page says the additional funds raised will be donated to the Team Jack Foundation.

With its football team currently on the outside looking in at the College Football Playoffs, Baylor has hired a PR firm to stump for the program among the national media.

According to reports from ESPN, Kevin Sullivan Communications was hired last week to advocate for the Bears' inclusion. The move might be the first of many such moves in the coming years, particularly when several teams have a case for sneaking in to the four-team bracket.

Baylor was ranked seventh in the official College Football Playoff Rankings when they were released last week. Two spots ahead was TCU, whose only loss of the season came against the Bears, 61-58.

Since then, No. 4 Mississippi State was upset by Ole Miss, creating space for a new tentative playoff place-holder one week before the decisive rankings are revealed. When the latest rankings were revealed Tuesday, TCU was third while Baylor was sixth.


"It is an incredible platform for us to make our case," said Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw in an interview with ESPN. "We would be a Big 12 co-champion with a tiebreaker over TCU. It would give us three top-15-quality wins. We would have the strongest resume among those under consideration."

That's the message Kevin Sullivan Communications will be pushing:


Sullivan served as White House communications director under George W. Bush and served similar roles with NBC Sports and the Dallas Mavericks.

In the AP Poll, TCU and Baylor have moved into the Nos. 4 and 5 spots, turning the committee's pick into a potential controversy.

From this angle, the College Football Playoff Committee certainly looks a lot like the BCS, doesn't it?

Firing a nine-win football coach is risky. For starters, nine wins in college football will draw a good deal of support from any fan base, so you're facing the prospect of civil war.

Nine wins usually gets you to a decent bowl game, and it offers plenty of room to fall should the appointed successor prove a bad hire. When you fire a nine-win coach -- particularly one who reaches that mark with consistency -- schools imply that they'd rather risk getting worse than accept the same results every year.

And then there's the risk of alienating prospective coaches. How many coaches are eager for a job where winning 75 percent of your games gets you the ax? Who wants to be judged by a fan base whose standard of excellence resides in a bygone era that no longer exists?

Nebraska has faced all of these risks before, and its football program suffered greatly because of it. That's why the decision to fire Bo Pelini after seven seasons -- all of them at nine wins or better -- has whipped the fan base into such a fervor. Many Husker fans see Pelini's ouster as a turning point in the program. But sides are split on whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.

***

Bo Pelini is not a bad coach. He may be hard-headed, hot-headed, and short on social graces, but all things considered he's a good football coach. He came to Nebraska after winning a national championship as defensive coordinator at LSU and had a great resume that included one year as Cornhuskers defensive coordinator in 2003.

He was going to be a head coach somewhere, and Nebraska found Pelini when it needed him most. After the 2007 season, in which the Huskers set a school record for most points allowed in a season (including a record-breaking 76 points to Kansas) the program was in shambles. The football team's identity was gone. Its Blackshirt tradition was a joke. The team was 5-7, missing out on bowl season for the second time in four years.

Pelini came in and delivered a quick turnaround, going 9-4. The program capped off the 2008 season with a 26-21 win over Clemson in the Gator Bowl. The improvement was dramatic, and optimism for 2009 was high, especially when defensive star Ndamukong Suh decided to return for his senior season.

After a rocky first half of the season, Nebraska ripped off five straight and lost to Texas in a controversial Big 12 Championship game that fans still bring up with regularity. (A timing controversy gave the Longhorns one extra second at the end of the game, which they used to kick the game-winning field goal.)

After that, Pelini's tenure becomes something of a blur, a five-year stretch with few distinctive moments. The general pattern: Nebraska handles inferior opponents and gets crushed in games against ranked teams. The Huskers haven't beaten a Top 15 team since November 2011, when they beat Penn State in the school's first game after firing Joe Paterno.


Since the start of the 2011 season, Nebraska has lost seven games by 20 points or more. It's easy to make the case that Nebraska's nine wins are the product of a soft schedule and its alignment in the Big Ten's weak West Division.

Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst is able to put Pelini's 67-27 record into perspective.

"We won a bunch of games," said Eichorst, "but didn't win the games that mattered most."

***

All of this has happened because there's a lot of money to be made in college football. You don't see softball coaches getting canned after winning 71 percent of their career game. That opinion is represented among Nebraska fans who presumably don't want to see their program descend into the cut-throat, cold-blooded world of win-at-all-costs football. They saw Pelini doing a great job in areas less trumpeted: Running a clean program that steer clears of NCAA violations, and keeping student-athletes out of legal trouble -- a feat not matched by the school's national championship teams in the 1990s.

Valid ethical points aside, that minority is countered by a more ridiculous segment that believes Nebraska president Harvey Perlman should lose his head because one of his university's athletic programs isn't doing quite as well as hoped.

The fact of the matter is that, at Nebraska, fans expect a winning team. For decades, they grew accustomed to consistency, to home-grown stars and to assistant coaches that never left for better pastures. Their Cornhusker teams were good every year, great a lot of years, and a handful of seasons were the very best in college football.

Slowly, those traditions are fading away. Coaching staff changes occur almost every year. Fewer athletes from Nebraska high schools are receiving scholarships, and fewer still are working their way into prominent roles on the team. Even the style of play has changed, with the famed option offense making only rare appearances.

The qualities that define Nebraska are less and less every year. Even Memorial Stadium's NCAA-record sellout streak is in jeopardy. But there is still the matter of winning. Winning defines Husker football, and winning can still be achieved.

Of course, that characteristic is interpreted in different ways. If you define winning as reaching the nine-win mark every year, Pelini preserves this identity while offering hope for even brighter days ahead. Other fans seek more: They want a return to conference titles and national championship trophies.

As fans have grown divided over the state of their football program, each side has grown louder -- and, to some extent, more unreasonable. In one corner, the pro-Pelini faction has dubbed itself "Bolievers," and they hail a sloppy overtime win over 7-5 Iowa as evidence that Pelini could one day lead them to the promised land.

In the other corner, an anti-Pelini cohort rabble-rouses for the coach to be fired even in the face of an 8-1 record, as was the case earlier this season. At how many schools across the country do coaches with an 8-1 record have to live among murmurs at their job security?

If you know Nebraska football, it's hard not to be reminded of 2003.

***

In 2002, Nebraska football struggled. One year after reaching the BCS Championship game, the Huskers went 7-7, including three straight losses to end the year.

Then-head coach Frank Solich, who had taken over for the legendary Tom Osborne after the 1997 season, used that turmoil to make changes to his staff. Bringing in the young-but-promising Pelini as defensive coordinator was one such decision, and it paid off in 2003: Nebraska went 9-3 in the regular season.

The program appeared to be on the upswing, but Solich was fired after the regular-season finale. Steve Pederson, who had been hired as athletic director one year earlier, felt the program needed a breath of fresh air. Pederson had no problem cutting ties with a coaching tree that extended from Bob Devaney in the 1960s.

What Pederson might not have anticipated was how that move sent a strong message to the coaching community: and not a good one, either. Many head coach candidates were uneasy about taking a job where nine wins -- and a two-game improvement from the previous season -- was enough to get you fired.

Pederson thought he was making a statement that Nebraska was committed to winning. To many on the outside, he came off as an undesirable boss. The hiring process became an embarrassment to the school, lasting 41 days and enduring a litany of candidates that declined interest in the position. In the end, he hired Bill Callahan, who refused to embrace Nebraska's tradition -- in fact worked to separate his program from its storied history -- and left four years later after two losing seasons and on-field peaks as good as Pelini's valleys.

Eleven years later, Nebraska seems to be in the same position, having fired a coach after reaching that all-important nine-win mark. Some fans are worried that history is being repeated. Who knows what Solich might have accomplished? Who knows if Pelini is on the cusp of greatness?

The parallels between Solich and Pelini are easy to draw, but there are important distinctions to consider. For one, Solich had made coaching staff changes that were still taking root. Even so, the program had made a marked improvement year-to-year. Solich was just two years removed from a national championship game appearance, had coached Eric Crouch to the Heisman, and had seasons of 12 and 11 wins under his belt.

Pelini has never won more than 10 games, and only one of his seven seasons has landed Nebraska in the Top 20 of national polls. Arguably his greatest success came when his team was led by recruits brought in by his predecessor, Bill Callahan.

Yet getting rid of Pelini offers no assurances of brighter days ahead:




The track record of success Nebraska has enjoyed under Pelini might not sate the appetites of well-fed Husker fans, but things could be a lot worse. Any incoming coach will still have to compensate for the geographic disadvantage Lincoln, Nebraska poses in the recruiting game, and the Big Ten's brand is dinged up after an underwhelming year.

Meanwhile, Nebraska is now a school that fired two nine-win coaches in the past 11 years. Accusations of entitlement won't be far behind. That's a risk the athletic director is willing to take, and given the program's stagnancy, it's probably the right one.

But that doesn't mean tomorrow will be a better, brighter day. Coaching searches always inspire a sense of unearned optimism, and that appears to be the case Pelini's most fervent opponents. Those Husker fans so eager to show their coach the door assume they'll get the replacement they want, and the results they demand. They see the reward, and believe they're immune to the risk.

In Lone Survivor, Mark Wahlberg stars as Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell. The movie tells the true story of Luttrell's harrowing mission against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Luttrell, who received a Navy Cross and Purple Heart, gave a motivatonal speech to Alabama's football team before the Tide's 25-20 victory against No. 1 Mississippi State. As you might suspect, his words made quite an impact on the players:

There is video of a speech from Luttrell making the rounds on the Internet, but The Sporting News reports that it isn't the one he gave to the Tide.

The Blaze reported that it found at least four cases in which copies of the video removed: "It’s unclear if the video was officially sanctioned by the university, which later realized its mistake, or if it was created by a third party who found an old clip of Luttrell and layered in other graphics and clips."

That said, it is still a clip worth checking out. (NSFW warning for some language.)

When Sister Lisa Maurer left her job as a teacher and coach to become a nun, she was worried about missing the interaction with students.

The ability to connect on a close level with athletes, and to nurture their growth as people, was her greatest joy in her first career. It was almost enough to dissuade her from entering a convent.

Little did Maurer know where she would end up: Coaching the kickers at a Division III football program and being the subject of a profile in The New York Times.

Maurer's path to her unprecedented spot had little to do with her coaching aspirations. Yes, she is the daughter of a coach, and yes, she enjoyed interacting with athletes.

But Maurer's room at the convent, which overlooks the football field at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota, gave her a sense of closeness with the team. The founding coach of the football program, Greg Carlson, got to know Maurer and asked her to lead prayers for the team.

When Carlson was replaced by Kurt Ramler, the new head coach asked Maurer to dinner and became fond of the nun who could talk sports as well as anyone. Maurer was spending so much time around the team that Ramler eventually asked her if she wanted to be the team's kicking coach.

Maurer leapt at the opportunity, and the end result is a win on all sides. Maurer loves being on the staff, and her contributions haven't hurt the Saints, who went 10-0 in the regular season before losing to perennial power St. John's of Minnesota in the first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs.

"They’re good kids. They’re awesome,” she said to The New York Times. “It just adds another layer of living our mission and living our values. It brings it full circle. I find it an honor that I get to do this, that I get to represent my religious community in this way.”

And her players have no problem whatsoever taking orders from a nun. To them, she's a natural.

"A lot of people who aren’t around the program say, 'How is a nun coaching you?'" said senior kicker Mike Theismann. "She fits in seamlessly. It’s not a big deal, for the players or the coaches."

But for Maurer, it's a huge deal.

"I get to coach and be a sister both,” she said. “I remember all the tears that I cried when I entered religious life because I never thought I’d get to do this. The Lord is so good to me."

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