Reports indicate that Youngstown State University’s Head Football Coach Bo Pelini is considering the hire of his brother Carl Pelini as the university’s next defensive line coach.
It’s no secret — Carl Pelini carries with him a bad reputation.
After just two seasons, Carl Pelini resigned from his position as the head football coach at Florida Atlantic University in 2013. Though the reason for Carl Pelini’s departure from FAU was never confirmed, allegations have been made against the former coach, accusing him of illicit drug use.
Whether or not these allegations are true, one thing remains certain — they have negatively impacted Carl Pelini’s professional reputation. Since leaving FAU, Carl Pelini has struggled to find work coaching football even at the high school level.
Given his reputation, it’s not unfair to say that YSU would be taking a chance by hiring Carl Pelini. And taking one chance on one football coach is not in itself a problem. Everyone deserves a second chance, after all.
But taking chance after chance after chance by hiring one controversial coach after another is a problem. And that’s precisely what YSU has done.
Since fall semester, the university has hired both Bo Pelini and Ron Brown. The former was caught on tape using some of the fouler words in the English language while giving a speech in a football locker room, and the latter has been known to preach his radical Christian views on homosexuality to his football players.
Many have argued that Bo Pelini and Ron Brown are simply football coaches; that coaches are supposed to be gruff, that they need not filter their language.
This argument not only holds coaches to a markedly low standard, but also fails to acknowledge that coaches are representatives of the institutions for which they work. YSU coaches travel the country wearing Penguin apparel; they are put in front of microphones and cameras; they are role models for the area’s youth; and they are the face of YSU athletics.
Lately, though, it seems that the university has made a decision to place winning over its public reputation. Yes, Bo Pelini and his staff of assistant coaches are capable of winning football games.
It is impossible to tell what controversies, or lack thereof, will sprout from these coaches — maybe they will be the very model of a modern football coach. But, with each new controversial hire, the chance of additional controversy grows greater. Though the community has been amiable to these recent hires — especially if season ticket sales are any indication — will they be so forgiving if the potential future strife affects the perception of their community?
We therefore ask the following question: is the prospect of winning worth the public relations risk that the university has taken?
We don’t think so.