LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -Bo Pelini is the new coach at Nebraska, leaving the defensive coordinator post at LSU for a job many Cornhusker fans thought he should have been given four years ago.
Interim athletic director and former coach Tom Osborne announced Pelini's hiring Sunday, after introducing him to the players.
``We need a head coach with strong defensive credentials and great leadership,'' Osborne said. ``We were also looking for someone who can inspire confidence and get players to play with great effort.
``And, of course, we also wanted our new head coach to understand our traditions, including the importance of our walk-on program and the importance of football in this state.''
It's the first head coaching job for the 39-year-old Pelini, who spent three years at LSU orchestrating one of the nation's top defenses. He replaces Bill Callahan, fired Nov. 24 after the Huskers' second losing season in four years.
Unlike Callahan, a former NFL coach many Nebraska fans never felt comfortable with, Pelini doesn't come to the football-crazed state as a stranger.
Pelini was interim coach after Frank Solich was fired following the 2003 regular season and went on to coach the Huskers to an Alamo Bowl victory over Michigan State. As he walked off the field in San Antonio, Husker fans chanted ``We want Bo.''
Osborne had said that the next coach didn't have to have Nebraska ties. Pelini was only at Nebraska for a year, but his no-nonsense style of coaching defense and fiery demeanor quickly made him a popular figure.
Osborne had interviewed Pelini and Buffalo coach Turner Gill, a former star Nebraska quarterback, longtime assistant at the school and friend of Osborne's. Osborne also reportedly spoke informally with Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe.
Pelini had been a candidate for the Nebraska job after Solich's firing and was interviewed by former athletic director Steve Pederson, who elected to go with Callahan.
Pelini's first task will be to resuscitate the Huskers' ``Blackshirt'' heritage.
The past four years have seen Nebraska sustain some of the most embarrassing losses in school history.
The Huskers finished 5-7 after losing 65-51 loss at Colorado, a game in which they squandered an 11-point lead.
Nebraska's dismal season followed one in which it reached the Big 12 championship game. This year also featured a 76-39 defeat at Kansas, the most points allowed by a Nebraska team.
At LSU, Pelini has coached defenses that have ranked No. 3 in the nation three years in a row, going into the SEC title game that LSU won Saturday against Tennessee.
The Tigers were giving up 278.9 yards a game this season heading into the game, and were second nationally in turnover margin at plus-1.5 and sixth in pass defense (175 ypg).
The 2006 Tigers led the SEC in six defensive categories and ranked among the top five nationally in four. That group also had streaks of 16 and 10 quarters without allowing a touchdown.
The 242.8 yards LSU allowed per game in 2006 was the fewest surrendered by a Tiger team since the 1976 squad allowed 233.1.
In 2004, Pelini served as Oklahoma's co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach, helping the Sooners to the national title game against USC.
Pelini had spent eight years as an NFL assistant before Solich hired him from the Green Bay Packers in 2003.
Pelini led a Nebraska defense that tied the school record with 47 turnovers. In addition, Nebraska was No. 2 in the nation in takeaways and led the nation in turnover margin at plus-1.77.
The Huskers under Pelini also led the nation in pass efficiency defense (88.66 rating), ranked No. 2 in scoring defense (14.5 ppg), No. 11 in passing yards (177.8 ypg) and No. 11 in total defense (297.2 ypg).
As a player, Pelini was a free safety at Ohio State from 1987-90. He was a three-time selection to the Academic All-Big Ten team as well as serving as team captain for the Buckeyes as a senior in 1990.
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