Spinning Tales — Pelini Needs to Cleanup Sideline Antics

Facebook. Millions of Americans use it as a means to socially interact with family, friends and acquaintances. If you are on Facebook, you understand the possibilities which exist and understand its dangers. If you have never been on Facebook, you may be better off.

Why bring up Facebook on a slippery Sunday morning? The answer involves Bo Pelini and the Huskers’ 9 to 6 loss to Texas A&M the night before.

For those of you who watched the game as I did, you saw the Big Red edged by the Aggies in large measure due to 16 penalties in the game which accounted for 145 yards. In contrast, the Aggies had just two penalties for 10 yards. The biggest play of the game was a roughing the passer penalty late in the fourth quarter, a bad call according to announcers and fans alike, which set up the game-winning field goal.

Yet, throughout the game, what caught my eye was the nuclear meltdown of NU Coach Bo Pelini, his actions along the sideline were disgraceful at best. Now, leading up to the game, Bo had a bad week. After the Kansas game the week before, Bo ripped into NU fans attending the game, complaining that they were ‘dead’ during the game. Having attended the KU game, the fans weren’t dead, there was very little to cheer for. In that game, NU barely managed to score 20 points against a Jayhawk defense which was porous.

But, most of us thought the lackluster effort was because NU was ‘saving’ its best for the Texas A&M game.

So, on Saturday night the Aggies were ready for the Huskers. Nebraska took an early 3 to 0 lead, saw its’ quarterback limp off the field, and then the penalties began to mount up. On one play alone, Ben Cotton was flagged for a personal foul AND an unsportsmanlike penalty accounting for 30 yards. As the player walked off the field, Bo exploded. When the quarterback returned from getting his ankle x-rayed, Bo exploded. He kept exploding on the officials for the rest of the game.

Bo’s demeanor reminded me of a professional wrestler from my youth by the name of Mad Dog Vachon. His act was one of a mad man barely in control, he would stomp into the ring in such a manner as to get the fans into a frothy frenzy. Bo was in a frothy frenzy early on in the game and it only got worse as the game ended in a loss, the second for this year’s team. For the record, he formally apologized Monday, but actions will speak louder than words.

So what does Facebook have to do with Bo? After the game, I posted on my Facebook page how disgusted I was with Bo’s act on the sideline and how he was a disgrace to Nebraskans with his performance. A one-time coach responded that he wasn’t offended by Bo’s actions. We responded back and forth several times, neither convincing the other the error of their beliefs.

Times have changed. In my life, I have had the great fortune to have watched, either in person or on television, some of the greatest coaches of all-time. I’m speaking of Tom Osborne and John Wooden. Each, in their sport, compiled a legacy which, arguably, can place them as among the best coaches in their sport of all-time. Neither coached at the professional level. At the college level, their records speak for themselves. We all know of Osborne’s legacy at NU, some of you may not know of John Wooden’s legacy as a basketball coach at UCLA. In the late 60s early 70s he won seven national titles in a row. Each man was known for his calm demeanor on the sidelines. Neither coach ever went on a tirade like Bo’s Saturday night shenanigans. Osborne and Wooden coached with a calm demeanor which gave their players the confidence they could overcome any obstacle. Don’t get me wrong, each man wanted to win as much as any coach ever has, it was how they went about it that separated them from other coaches.

Through the years I’ve covered many coaches, became friends with many and kept some at arms-length. Theirs is not an easy task so, when things go bad, I’ve looked the other way. But, goodness gracious, I never had a coach act up like Pelini. And if I did, I wouldn’t hesitate to call him or her on it.

This year Pelini has fostered an ‘us against the world’ mentality on the team. The Big 12, since Nebraska is leaving at the end of the year, is out to get them. What has been exposed, from my perspective, is a team which has great talent, but has yet to jell. In its two losses and several victories, the Huskers have played to less than their potential. Then, when a coach loses his poise in a hostile environment as was evident at College Station, the performance of the team suffers as a result of it.

And what about Facebook?  Beware, what you write on your pages. Your comments can make you look like a genius or an idiot.