By Greg Gulas
BOARDMAN — Bo Pelini has always considered Youngstown a very special place to call home.
The guest speaker at Sunday’s induction ceremonies at the Curbstone Coaches Hall of Fame, the University of Nebraska football coach told approximately 600 in attendance just how special those times really were.
“The work ethic that I have today was engrained in me while growing up in this great city,” said Pelini, a Cardinal Mooney High graduate. “It came from my parents, teachers, coaches and friends.
“Everyone from our area realizes how special football is and it is no different in Nebraska,” Pelini said. “I preach to my team daily that in order to talk the talk and eventually walk the walk, then you had better be hard-working and disciplined.”
Pelini noted that he has been very fortunate in his coaching career to have learned from some of the very best in the business.
He started out as a graduate assistant at the University of Iowa under Hayden Fry when his playing days at Ohio State were concluded.
Others he worked for were George Seifert (San Francisco 49ers), Pete Carroll (New England Patriots) and Mike Sherman (Green Bay Packers).
When he returned to the college ranks, Frank Solich at Nebraska, Bob Stoops at Oklahoma and Les Miles at LSU more than prepared him for the head job with Nebraska.
But it was Mooney head mentor Don Bucci and his trusted assistant Ron Stoops, who set the tone for his coaching career during his scholastic playing days.
“Coaches [Don] Bucci and [Ron] Stoops, during my days at Cardinal Mooney High, were very special in my development, both as a player and now as a head coach,” Pelini said. “Both had various opportunities to leave and move onto the next level, yet chose to remain at CMHS. They felt like they needed to stay in order to teach us.
“They just kept giving back to the community and we were the beneficiaries of that dedication,” he said. “It’s not the wins or the losses, although they are very important to any coach. My job is to develop a culture.
“This is an ‘I’ and ‘ME’ generation and we have many players without the necessary family roots that those in this very Valley have proudly grown up with,” Pelini said.