Home > Random Links > Solution to the ‘problem’ that’s not going anywhere, Part I

Solution to the ‘problem’ that’s not going anywhere, Part I

Bo Pelini and I don’t have much in common as far as life goes. Next to nothing would be safe to say.

But the one thing we have in common (to a certain degree) is that our jobs reach an audience larger than our immediate personal and professional circles. Even still we have our differences there, because Pelini’s audience is significantly bigger than mine. Hopefully my audience can compare someday.

Sometimes Bo expresses his opinions, and sometimes I get to express my opinions in an editorial column. I haven’t had many published, but I know three things about expressing my opinion to a large audience of strangers; (1) don’t talk down to your audience, (2)don’t tell your audience how they should feel and (3) don’t tell your audience what to do.

So when Pelini told reporters at Big Ten Media Days that the Nebraska football program receives a “constant barrage” of criticism (good and bad) I want one thing: Honesty. I want the people surrounding the football program to preach what they practice.

It’s no secret that the football team lives in a fishbowl, as Zach Lee said. Every move is analyzed and scrutinized, written about and commented on. That won’t change, no matter how bad Pelini wants.

My colleague Steve Sipple and the World Herald’s Tom Shatel each wrote similar columns in response to Bo’s remarks about the fans and outside influence. Shatel told him to embrace it, Sipple said deal with it. Because again, Twitter, Facebook, message boards and Husker fandom aren’t going anywhere.

I wouldn’t be the first to call Pelini stubborn, but I would be in the minority calling him stupid. Idiots don’t become millionaire D-1 head football coaches.

That’s why it confuses me when Bo shuns the media with short, often curt answers. Whenever a reporter asks an “X’s and O’s” type question, his response is always something along the lines of “you wouldn’t understand.” His trademark response is “what do you think?”

Remember what I said about not talking down to your audience?

So I’m confused when he thinks that if he’s he shuts out media enough, they’ll go away. We’re not going anywhere. Husker Football drives the bus in Nebraska. Without the revenue generated from NU football, I probably wouldn’t have a job.

Fans may coddle their head coach and defend him to the ‘death’ on ESPN message boards, but they aren’t concerned with keeping him content. They want wins. These they want wins immediately.

So I get puzzled when a smart man thinks any of this is going to change.

Fans won’t stop being fickle. NU will continue to be the 1985 Bears when they win and the 1976 Buccaneers when they lose. It’s fair for the fans supporting your program to expect an explanation when you lose to 5-7 Texas or 6-6 Northwestern. Especially when one of them is the most talked up game in five years.

Pelini and his team have found themselves in some wins that were unexpected, but more of the surprises were losses. I certainly wouldn’t want to be the coach trying to justify a 9-7 loss to Iowa State after all those turnovers.

So what’s my ground-breaking solution? Honesty. And I’m not being sarcastic when I say ground-breaking.

How many coaches went on the record and said “We read the newspapers and pay attention to ESPN”? None. But they all do pay attention. A Husker quarterback once told me his favorite sites were ESPN and anything college-football related. After that infamous loss to Northwestern in 2011, receiver Kenny Bell told me the players don’t pay attention to the haters. By the time I packed up my notes and tape recorder to write my story six blocks away, he was on twitter responding to individuals calling Nebraska a bad offensive team. Most tweets were ended with “SMDH”.

It’s hard to imagine NU’s flat play in the loss to the “revenge game” against Texas in 2010 didn’t involve the overblown anticipation and hype.

Countless times Bo has stressed that he doesn’t “pay attention to media or newspapers”.

You remember Bo’s tirade on Dirk Chatelain of the World Herald after Nebraska’s comeback win over Ohio State in 2011. He began his attack on Dirk by telling him that he read his article, and Martinez played well despite the criticism.

Sounds to me like they’re paying attention.

Pelini made a step in the right direction at Big Ten media days acknowledging that his team is influenced by the fans, namely social media. To his credit, he does have the power to ban Twitter from his players. He’s exercised that right before. I thought he was completely reasonable in doing so after Eric Martin’s bone-headed tweets about players needing stipend checks to survive college. Apparently a free degree isn’t enough anymore.

I’m sure the thought of taking advice on how to run a football team from a lowly reporter would make Bo cringe, but it wouldn’t hurt to take the suggestions into consideration.

Deal with it, as Sipple said, because it’s not going anywhere.

Embrace it, as Shatel said, because it’s not hard to use it to your advantage.

Be honest about it, as I said, because you’re currently not fooling anyone.

Fans won’t always appreciate reasoning for wins and losses, but they will always appreciate honesty.

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Categories: Random Links
  1. Rich
    August 6, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    Great article! Great take! I have often wondered why Coach Pelini doesn’t coach youth football or semi-pro football. No press there, Bo! Maybe he *does*, in fact, coach for the money. P.S. I can give you a laundry list of stupid millionaire D-1 head football coaches. 🙂

  2. prayinggrantis
    August 6, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    So do you think press and fans will quiet down if he continues to shut them out? If it were all about the money he could be a coordinator in the NFL living comfortably and dealing with the media once every other season

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