Bo Pelini may become the third coach to get run out of the University of Nebraska for not being Tom Osborne. The trend lines in Lincoln aren't great – particularly after UCLA went on a 38-0 run to win 41-21 over the Cornhuskers on Saturday.
If Pelini one day suffers the same fate as Frank Solich and Bill Callahan though, let it be because the school didn't believe he won enough games, even if reaching the standards of Osborne again at Nebraska is pretty much impossible in this era.
Just don't let it be because in 2011 some lowlife decided to secretly tape Pelini venting about fans and media before recording a postgame radio show, and then saved the recording for nearly two years before finally releasing it Monday to Deadspin.com because he or she is upset by the loss to UCLA.
Oh, this is some good, trashy audio, no doubt about that.
For more than 90 seconds Pelini swears repeatedly and complains bitterly about two local newspaper reporters, including by name, Omaha World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel.
"[Expletive] him, too," Pelini said. "[Expletive] him. That's what I'm going to tell him. He wants to walk out after my press conference? I'm going to say, 'Get the [expletive] away from me. I'm done with you, [expletive]. I'm done with him.' "
And then he rips Huskers fans, notably the ones that left at halftime of the just completed game and missed Nebraska's dramatic comeback that night against Ohio State, one of the best wins of Pelini's six years there.
"It took everything in my power to not say, '[Expletive] you, fans. [Expletive] all of you.' [Expletive] 'em," Pelini said. "… Our crowd. What a bunch of [expletive] fair-weather [expletive] – they can all kiss my ass out the [expletive] door. 'Cause the day is [expletive] coming now. We'll see what they can do when I'm [expletive] gone. I'm so [expletive] pissed off."
[Photos: College football - Best of Week 3]
It's all juicy stuff even if it's pretty ridiculous.
Nebraska fans are so loyal they have famously sold out every home game at Memorial Stadium since the 1962 season – that's half a century plus. And they are so classy and kind-hearted, one of their enduring traditions is to give a standing ovation to the opposing team, no matter the result. We can only imagine how Pelini would feel about other fan bases.
And while the perception of a writer will always depend on the subject, Shatel, the World-Herald's longtime columnist, has a reputation for being about as even-keeled and reasonable as anyone in the business. This isn't a guy who tends to carve up anyone.
Whatever their disagreement was at time, it would probably make a coach who deals with major market media just laugh, which is why Pelini's rant can't even be taken seriously. This was almost certainly just a highly emotional coach venting off some steam, empowered from an I-told-you-so comeback that made him feel superior. He wasn't thinking about what he was saying. He was just spouting off.
It's a human reaction.
“I want to sincerely apologize for my comments from two years ago which became public today," Pelini said in a statement released Monday night. "... They were spoken in a private room following the Ohio State game. I was venting following a series of emotional events which led to this moment.
"That being said, these comments are in no way indicative of my true feelings. I love it here in Nebraska."
How it's viewed among Cornhuskers fans remains to be seen. Plenty are already frustrated with the state of the program, which rather than see a jolt of energy by bolting the Big 12 for the Big Ten has found itself mired in a good but hardly great spot. Moreover, recruiting isn't going particularly strong and the Big Ten schedule is pretty dull, and a lot of people wonder if Nebraska will be nationally elite again under Pelini.
Here's guessing they won't under almost anyone. Nebraska has wonderful tradition, fans and institutional support but it sits in a remote state with cold weather and few local recruits. It isn't a recipe for sustained greatness.
Osborne went 255-49-3 [.836] in 25 seasons because he was a brilliant coach and during his tenure, the school cared a lot more about football than all but a few schools. He retired in 1997 though and that isn't the case anymore. Everyone has facilities and budgets and a big spotlight. It's a different day. This is still a terrific place, but it isn't likely to be what it was ever again. Pelini is a respectable 51-21 [.708]. It isn't enough for some/many.
That's part of what Pelini is dealing with, and he doesn't always deal with it well. He is a very intense coach, both on the sidelines and off. He seems to embrace a bunker mentality. Just Monday he reacted to a tweet from Cornhuskers legend Tommie Frazier that came after the UCLA collapse and called for the dismissal of the defensive coaching staff.
"If he feels like that, then so be it," Pelini said. "We don't need him."
It's never really a good idea to fight with legends of the program. And now comes this.
The issue with the secret recording is a matter of context and perspective. What Pelini said is both nothing new and nothing substantive.
Coaches have been cussing out reporters and columnists – to their face or behind their back – probably since the first game was written up. That's just standard stuff. Who cares that Pelini was mad at Shatel? It didn't affect anything at the time and he held it together in public to avoid embarrassing the program.
It's the same with the fans. Coaches have forever felt besieged by people that want more, more, more, better, better, better. You can only imagine what it's like when the standard is three national titles in a four-year span, which Osborne got done in the mid-1990s.
The issue of course is that Pelini should be more careful to whom he speaks his mind and where he does it. In this case, he obviously thought he was among friends or employees he could trust, even with a microphone nearby.
So, sure, he needs to be smarter about when he says what he wants to really say. These days, everyone is the media and everyone is capable of ratting you out. He needs to come out and explain all this to Nebraska fans and apologize.
That's about it though. What Pelini said is pretty much what every coach has said in some way at some time. It may be with less colorful language, but the sentiment is the same. If they haven't, they probably aren't particularly competitive.
So if Nebraska tries to run Bo Pelini out for this, it is merely going to hire a new coach who's done the exact same thing as the old one.
It's just when the others said it, they weren't around some clown who was secretly waiting around for the chance to get them.
- Sports & Recreation
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- Bo Pelini
- Tom Osborne