Did the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers’ head coach lie by omission to football recruits about one of his position coaches? That’s the question being raised about Bo Pelini immediately following Signing Day.
Secondary coach Marvin Sanders is one of the top position coaches in the nation. During the past two seasons, the Nebraska secondary has managed top-3 rankings on the pass efficiency leaderboard.
Here’s a short timeline of events leading up to the resignation of Sanders:
February 2nd – Wednesday
Recruits finalize their commitments to the University of Nebraska by faxing in their letters of intent. The football program hosts the Big Red Recruiting Dinner to celebrate the end of the day. Conspicuously absent from the event is Sanders, along with fellow coaches Shawn Watson and Ted Gilmore.
The head coach of Indiana, Kevin Wilson, announces during his recruiting press conference that Indiana’s cornerbacks coach will be leaving to take a new position at the University of Nebraska. Wilson says that Corey Wilson is specifically going to take the Cornhuskers’ secondary position.
Pelini’s press conference occurs after Indiana’s. Pelini claims not to have hired any coaches and refuses to answer any questions about Sanders, Wilson, or the coaching situation at Nebraska.
February 3rd – Thursday
The University of Nebraska makes a brief press release stating that Marvin Sanders has submitted his resignation. Sanders’ resignation is allegedly for reasons that are personal and related to family matters.
February 4th – Friday
Recruit Charles Jackson tells the Omaha World-Herald that he was not informed of Sanders’ impending departure and hasn’t even been contacted about the matter. Jackson plays cornerback and would have had Sanders as his position coach. Jackson speculates that Sanders’ resignation was not announced earlier because it may have affected recruiting. He also says that no one from the football program or university had contacted him to tell him about Sanders as of 8 p.m. on Thursday.
A lie by omission is generally considered to be when a person has told the truth, but deliberately neglects to tell all of the relevant information. Did Bo Pelini know about Sanders’ resignation and withhold the information until after Signing Day?
The University of Nebraska, Pelini, and Sanders have refused to comment beyond what was said in the Nebraska recruiting day conference and the university press release about Sanders’ resignation. Until one of them chooses to talk, we won’t know for sure whether Pelini crossed the line.
No matter how you look at this, Bo Pelini doesn’t come out of the matter smelling like roses. A position coach is going to be the person that a football player spends most of his time with. A change in position coaches can be an important factor for football recruits to consider.
While the coaching change doesn’t appear to break any rules, I feel the timing of it and Pelini’s apparent lack of notification to Charles Jackson is morally questionable. There isn’t a good reason to make a change immediately after Signing Day unless a coach has committed some kind of crime.
Even if Sanders’ resignation was abrupt and completely unplanned, Pelini needs to take the time to notify his recruits. It’s one thing to tell the media “no comment”. Pelini has had a bit of a contentious relationship with the media for a long time. However, treating his players like this is a poor decision on Pelini’s part. Jackson appears to be willing to stay a Cornhusker for the time being, but he has every right to feel disrespected.