For five years, Youngstown State head coach Bo Pelini received countless job offers and inquiries but for five years he turned those opportunities away. As a native of Youngstown, Ohio, the attraction of being home made it very hard for another job to pull him away.
"To be honest with you, I didn't take them to my wife, didn't even bring them up to her," Pelini said of the other job offers.
Then Ed Orgeron came calling.
"It was about 30 seconds and I looked at my wife and I was a little bit nervous," Pelini said with a slight chuckle. "I went up to her and I said 'hon, LSU wants to talk to me tomorrow about me going back there. I thought she was going to lay into me but she looked at me and said you're going to talk right?"
The only place that could beat home for Pelini was the opportunity to go back to the city and university he calls his second home.
"This place is special to me, I feel like this is my second home and to me it's about the culture," Pelini said. "Obviously coach O's culture and the culture here at LSU. The things he represents, that this program represents, the winning but just the culture of this state. I always felt at home here."
On Jan. 27, Pelini was hired as the Tigers next defensive coordinator, returning to that second home where he captured a national championship back in 2007. In his three-year first stint with the Tigers from 2005-07, Pelini constructed the No. 3 defense in 2005, No. 4 in 2006 and No. 17 defense in the championship season, allowing 288.8 yards per game.
"Bo was the only guy I ever talked to," Orgeron said Thursday night at the annual coaches clinic. "This is what Pete Carroll said about Bo Pelini, he said he's the most intelligent, best defensive mind of any coach I've ever coached with. That says a lot."
With Pelini on board, the Tigers have switched to the 4-3 defense Orgeron has envisioned for a while now.
"Our players love it and it really fits the skill of our football team," Orgeron said. "They're playing fast, putting in blitzes and he's doing a tremendous job of energy and is already capturing our guys."
Pelini gave a short presentation to some 100 high school coaches in attendance as he put that defensive intelligence to work. He went down the list of his most important principles but the most important principle to have according to Pelini is having a sound philosophy.
"Actually sitting down with your staff and asking the simple question, what do we want to be," Pelini said. "Whatever you come up with as a staff, it better match up."
The high school coaches in attendance intently listened as one of the great defensive minds in the game gave them some quick bullet points and film study. These are the coaches that will be one day handing off some of their special talents to LSU down the road.
Pelini has been in coaching for 29 years and coached at nine different universities and NFL teams. Yet through all of those years, all of those different experiences, Pelini considers the time he's spent in Baton Rouge as his fondest.
"I talk to a lot of people and they ask me where the most special place where you worked and I say LSU," Pelini said. "The reason why that was is because the kids from Louisiana, they set the culture for the program. It doesn't matter how many kids you bring in from out of state because they all follow along with what the Louisiana kids are doing. To me, that's why this place is what it is and why I wanted to come back."