Bo Pelini, a Youngstown native and one of only two Power Five conference football coaches to win at least nine games each of the past seven years, has been named the Head Football Coach at Youngstown State University, President James P. Tressel and Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Ron Strollo announced on Tuesday.
Pelini will begin his duties as the Penguins' Head Football Coach on Wednesday, Dec. 17. He becomes the seventh head coach in the program's storied history that features four FCS National Championships and seven overall title-game appearances.
"It is with great passion and enthusiasm that I become the Head Football Coach at Youngstown State University." Pelini said. "This is an exciting time for my family and me as we return to the Mahoning Valley. Mary Pat and our children are anxious to get involved in the Youngstown State and local communities. I am looking forward to getting to know a tremendous group of football student-athletes who are currently part of the program. YSU football has a rich championship tradition and a standard of excellence which our staff and players will work to uphold both on and off of the field."
He has an impressive 21 years of coaching experience with 12 as either a head coach or collegiate coordinator and nine as a defensive assistant in the NFL. He was an assistant coach for a Super Bowl Champion (San Francisco) and a BCS National Champion (LSU). Altogether, he has coached in 12 bowl games, 11 NFL playoff games and six conference-title contests.
Pelini spent the past seven years as the Head Coach at the University of Nebraska where he guided the program to nine wins or more in each campaign, including 10 victories on three occasions. He posted a 67-27 record (.712 winning percentage) with the Cornhuskers and guided NU to four divisional titles in his tenure as head coach.
One of the most respected defensive minds on all levels of football, he is a graduate of Youngstown's Cardinal Mooney High School and returns his hometown with some of the most impressive credentials in all of college football.
"We are excited to have Bo Pelini as the Head Football Coach at Youngstown State University," Strollo said. "He is a dedicated family man who wants to be part of our community and make an impact in his hometown. He has been a successful coach throughout his career and our student-athletes will have the opportunity to play for a tremendous individual. We look forward to him leading our program and welcome him and Mary Pat home."
Under his guidance, Nebraska was one of three schools to win at least nine games in each of the past six seasons, joining 2014 College Football Playoff qualifiers Alabama and Oregon. In his seven full years on the Husker sidelines, Pelini won 66 games, which was one more than Osborne did in his first seven campaigns at NU.
Pelini is also just the sixth coach in FBS history at a Power Five conference school to win nine games in each of his first seven campaigns. The others in the group include Osborne (Nebraska), Barry Switzer (Oklahoma), Earle Bruce (Ohio State), Steve Spurrier (Florida) and Mack Brown (Texas). Pelini and Alabama's Nick Saban are the only two FBS coaches to notch nine-or-more wins in each season since 2008.
NU won 10 games in 2009, 2010 and 2012, and it appeared in the Big 12 Conference Championship Game in 2009 and 2010. The Huskers won the Big Ten Legends Division crown in 2012 and made the school's lone appearance in the Big 10 title game that year. In 2014, the Huskers posted a 9-3 mark and went 5-3 in the conference.
Pelini took over the Nebraska program after a highly successful five-year run as a collegiate defensive coordinator, including orchestrating NU's defensive efforts in 2003. Pelini picked up his first college head coaching victory as NU's interim coach in the 2003 Alamo Bowl against Michigan State.
Following his one year at Nebraska, Pelini served as the co-defensive coordinator at Oklahoma in 2004, helping the Sooners to the Big 12 title and BCS title game. He then followed with three seasons as the defensive coordinator at LSU. In 2007, the Tigers won the BCS National Championship by knocking off Ohio State, 38-24.
In addition to his five seasons as an assistant at the collegiate level, Pelini coached in the NFL for nine seasons, serving three years each with the 49ers, Patriots and Packers. In 1994, he was part of the 49ers' Super Bowl Champion squad.
Pelini was a team captain and four-year letterman as a safety at Ohio State from 1987 to 1990. After earning his bachelor's degree in business marketing from Ohio State in 1990, Pelini completed his master's degree in sports administration at Ohio University in 1992.
He and his wife, Mary Pat, have three children, a son, Patrick, and two daughters, Kate and Caralyn.