A formal announcement is expected as soon as Tuesday night. The move to the FCS school is a homecoming for the 46-year-old Pelini and his wife, Mary Pat, who are both from Youngtown, Ohio. The return to be near family and the stability that the couple’s three children will have ultimately outweighed Pelini’s college and NFL job opportunities.
It’s a monumental hiring by Youngstown State president Jim Tressel, the former Ohio State coach, who assumed his current position in July. Until being fired at Nebraska earlier this month, Pelini won at least nine games in each of his seven seasons with the Cornhuskers.
Last Tuesday, Pelini told SI.com that contrary to previous media reports he had not been offered nor accepted the job at Youngstown State.
The defensive-minded Pelini replaces Eric Wolford, who went 31-26 in five years at Youngstown State, including 7-5 this fall. The Penguins have traditionally been an FCS power, which dates back to Tressel, who won four national titles at the school before leaving for Ohio State in 2001. But the program has not been to the FCS playoffs since ’06.
A former Ohio State free safety, Pelini had a career record of 67-27 at Nebraska, including a 9-3 mark this season. The school owed him approximately $8 million under his contract, some of which will be offset by his new Youngstown State job.
Prior to taking over at Nebraska in 2008, Pelini was LSU's defensive coordinator for three seasons, including during the Tigers’ national title run in ’07. He was Oklahoma's co-defensive coordinator in ’04 and Nebraska’s defensive coordinator in ’03. Pelini also served as the Huskers interim coach after Frank Solich was fired.
Before that, Pelini was an NFL assistant for nearly a decade with the Green Bay Packers, the New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers. He won a Super Bowl with the latter in 1995.