According to 247Sports, one of their sources informed them that former Nebraska head coach, Bo Pelini, would be interested in taking the Purdue job if offered:
“He would definitely be interested in this job,” a source who coached under Pelini told 247Sports this week. “I think he would make a more immediate impact more than any other guy I believe. He would change that culture real quick.”
Pelini is currently the head coach at Youngstown State after being fired by Nebraska in 2014 with a 67–27 record, winning at least 9 games in every season. Pelini currently has a 10-7 record as Youngstown State's head coach.
Pelini would be an interesting choice for Purdue, and one we may not consider when looking at other coaching candidates. However, he may not be a popular choice among everyone.
While his Nebraska teams always finished with at least 9 wins and ended each season ranked in the Coaches Poll (except 2008), it seemed like his teams plateaued and couldn’t go from being good to great. Pelini never won a conference championship in either the Big XII or B1G, and once Nebraska moved to the Big Ten, they would often get steamrolled by talented Ohio State, Michigan State, and Wisconsin teams. This was perhaps the main reason why Nebraska fired Pelini in 2014.
I know what you’re thinking, we’d be salivating over a coach that could get Purdue to 9 wins every season, let alone make Purdue bowl eligible. Purdue doesn’t have the same standards as Nebraska, and never will unless it somehow wins a championship or two. I think Bo Pelini could make a positive short term impact on Purdue football.
However, another issue with Pelini at Nebraska was his inability to recruit. Recruiting talented high school students to play in the middle of nowhere isn’t easy, but at least Nebraska’s name carries some weight with it. Despite this, Pelini’s recruiting classes were hardly special, and when Mike Riley arrived, there was a notable (and positive) change in recruiting. Corn Nation summed it up:
Nebraska under Bo Pelini was a school that recruited kids who other Power 5 schools didn't go after (#DiamondsInTheRough). They were the staff that backed off when kids were being sought after other schools that were more aggressive. They were the school that went hard after kids who had "fallen through the cracks" in the third week of January. They were the school that you heard got on a recruit then moved on if the interest wasn't there immediately.
If Pelini were to coach at Purdue, he would need to be more aggressive at recruiting. Unless they’re a legacy kid, high school football recruits do not want to commit to Purdue because its name carries no weight, unlike Nebraska. Pelini needs to be willing to compete against other P5 programs for recruits and show that he could build something special here. I don’t expect Purdue to steal recruits from Michigan or Ohio State anytime soon, but it would be nice if they weren’t last in the Big Ten.
Personally, I’d still be okay with Pelini taking the Purdue job. Hell, I’ll even take his cat at this point after the last 4 seasons of Purdue football. But I understand some of the concerns people might have. I think Pelini could start winning as soon as he lands in West Lafayette, but I’m cautiously optimistic about the long term, especially if he applies the same recruiting methods he used at Nebraska.