By: Drae Smith
Host of “The Drae Smith Show”
December 28, 2014
When Eric Wolford was fired as YSU Head Football Coach about a month ago, there were serious questions about who Athletic Director Ron Strollo could bring in to replace him. The original list of rumored candidates was not exciting to say the least and many were skeptical about the future of the program. But when a report from FootballScoop.com stated former Nebraska head coach and Youngstown native, Bo Pelini, would accept the job, excitement and buzz began to fill Northeast Ohio. After days of skepticism and conflicting reports, YSU finally made the official announcement that Pelini would become the seventh head coach in school history. After another late-season collapse and embarrassing attendance numbers in 2014, Strollo and President Jim Tressel needed a home-run hire like Pelini.
With the rich championship history of the program and the wealth of high school talent in the surrounding area, it is simply inexcusable to miss the FCS playoffs for eight straight seasons. A well-known, successful Youngstown native like Pelini should be able to bring back interest and excitement throughout the Mahoning Valley, something which has seemed to severely fade away over the past decade. With his resume and Cardinal Mooney background, Bo should also be able to recruit the Youngstown area extremely well. Recruiting the “State of Youngstown” was something Jim Tressel did famously well in the 1990’s, on his way to building the dynasty that was the Youngstown State football program. Eric Wolford’s perceived lack of recruiting in Youngstown was one of the many reasons fans fell disenchanted and disappointed in the program. Hopefully a coach they know and who shares their philosophy will get the Penguin faithful back into Stambaugh Stadium to pack the Ice Castle for the 2015 season.
Having a full stadium to create a tangible home-field advantage is crucial to meeting the goals and expectations everyone has for this team. And it is a team filled with extremely talented young players who have gained big game experience over the past few years. While Penguin fans must be patient, there is no reason to believe this team cannot contend for a playoff spot immediately. YSU is loaded at the skill positions with talented players like starting QB Hunter Wells, RB’s Martin Ruiz & Jody Webb, WR’s Andrew Williams & Andre Stubbs all returning. It is no secret that defense has been the key weak spot for the Penguins for a number of years. Play on that side of the ball should vastly improve under Pelini, who is well known for his defensive acumen and expertise.
For those who may not follow football very closely, it is important to note that Bo Pelini is a very accomplished, high profile coach who had highly visible and lucrative opportunities in both College Football and the NFL. He could have been a Head Coach or Defensive Coordinator at a much larger FBS school or a position coach in the NFL. For Pelini to pass up those offers for a job at a much smaller FCS school, says a lot about the power of going home and what this area means to those who were born here. We saw it with LeBron James, now we see it here at YSU with Bo Pelini coming home to Youngstown. This should serve as a reminder to everyone that Youngstown and Northeast Ohio in general is a place with many great qualities and many great people. There are a number of extremely talented, successful individuals from this area who attribute their success to the experiences they gained in their hometown. Regardless of the jokes and stigma that may be out there; please remember that there is nothing wrong with being from Youngstown, there is nothing wrong with attending Youngstown State University. Get excited about where you come from, get excited about your university and get excited about your football team. With Bo Pelini at the helm, there is no doubt that there will be plenty to get excited about very soon.