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College Football Preview

Ross remembers Solich in Alamo Bowl victory

Posted: Tuesday December 30, 2003 2:45AM; Updated: Tuesday December 30, 2003 2:52AM
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SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- With all the talk about who's going to be the next head football coach at Nebraska, I-back Cory Ross paid tribute to the past after the Cornhuskers' Alamo Bowl victory over Michigan State.

"Coach Solich was just on us all season to finish things, finish big," Ross said after Nebraska's 17-3 win. "This trophy was for him, the win was for him, this season was for him. This all was for him."

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Solich was fired Nov. 29 after a 9-3 regular season.

"If you see Coach Solich, tell him we're thinking about him," safety Josh Bullocks said.

But the players made it clear that they're backing interim coach Bo Pelini for the permanent job.

They said they found inspiration Monday night in Pelini's sideline decorum.

Pelini is known for being a high-energy coach. He certainly looked the part in what was his first -- and maybe last -- game in the role of Nebraska head football coach.

Pelini got flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct in the fourth quarter, and that was after he had gotten in the ear of the field judge earlier in the game.

"Usually we have to hold back players when they get too fired up," cornerback Lornell McPherson said. "Tonight, we had to hold him back. When we saw that, it got us fired up."

Pederson, wearing his red blazer, brushed past reporters without answering questions after the game.

Pederson has said he wants a coach who can take the program to a higher level.

Asked whether he would be able to do that, Pelini said, "No question in my mind."

But Pelini said he didn't know where he stood with Pederson in the search for Solich's successor.

"I was asked to do a job and I did it," Pelini said of his work as interim coach. "There's a level of satisfaction there. Now you control what you can control. You let the decision-makers make their decision and go with it."

The players made it clear that they back Pelini for the permanent job.

"I'm 100 percent behind Coach Pelini," offensive tackle Richie Incognito said.

Many of the 10,000 Nebraska fans in the Alamodrome also weighed in, chanting "We Want Bo" during the Alamo Bowl championship trophy presentation.

Ross said it's important for Pederson to make his decision quickly.

"Or he can coach the team himself," Ross said.

The 36-year-old Pelini paced the sideline continuously and was in the officials' ears when he took umbrage with calls.

He was animated when field judge Robert Ables called pass interference on cornerback Fabian Washington in the second quarter. Almost before the flag landed on the turf, Pelini had ripped off his headset and followed Ables along the sideline, jawing at him all the while.

But Pelini took his emotion to a higher level in the fourth quarter when he thought MSU's Jeff Smoker had fumbled the ball on a quarterback sneak.

He got in the face of referee Rich Kollen, who tossed the flag as Pelini flailed his arms.

"I was a little frustrated at that point and felt we couldn't get a call," Pelini said.

After the game, Pelini's father, Tony, rushed toward him, and the two embraced.

Tony said he was proud of his son.

"He's 1-0," he said. "I told him he ought to retire."

Bo Pelini said he planned to do something else.

"I'm going to relax and enjoy this win with my friends and family," he said.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Nebraska staff waits anxiously as Pederson determines their future.

Along with Pelini, offensive coordinator Barney Cotton, running backs coach Tim Albin, tight ends coach Scott Downing, defensive backs coach Marvin Sanders and linebackers coach Jimmy Williams all are completing their first seasons at Nebraska.

Receivers coach Ron Brown has been on the staff 17 years, quarterbacks coach Turner Gill 12 years and defensive line coach Jeff Jamrog four years.

Cotton, Sanders, Williams, Gill and Jamrog all played for the Huskers.

Albin said he was concerned but not overly so.

"I'll put my resume up against anyone's in the country," he said.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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