Austin Kreber delves into how the Nebraska coach is doing now.
“Our crowd. What a bunch of f***ing fair-weather f***ing—they can all kiss my a** out the f***ing door. ‘Cause the day is f***ing coming now. We’ll see what they can do when I’m f***ing gone. I’m so f***ing pissed off.” –Bo Pelini after a 34-27 win against Ohio State in 2011.
(C+P) — Ever since that recording was released last September, Pelini has been trying to recover and win the Nebraska fan base back with tweets, viral videos, and cats. Surprisingly, it seems to have worked.
In this new age of football, coaches are not just judged by their win and loss column, they are criticized for their off field behavior, their responses at press conferences, and their treatment of players and officials.
That’s why, even after six consecutive nine-win seasons, Nebraska head football coach Bo Pelini found himself on the hot seat following the 2013 season. He has brought the Cornhuskers to four conference title games, three in the Big Twelve and one in the Big Ten, but his off field antics have overshadowed his team’s performance.
After losing to the UCLA Bruins on September 14th, 2013, a two-year-old audio tape of Pelini ranting was released to Deadspin.com (above.) He was talking about a come from behind victory against Ohio State. Down 27-6 in the third quarter, many Nebraska fans started to leave. Nebraska ended up winning that game 34-27.
Once the tape was released, Pelini deservedly received an avalanche of criticism, including calls from the Cornhusker fan base for him to be fired. Yet some people assumed that this is what a lot of coaches say behind closed doors, but Pelini was just unlucky enough to be recorded.
“I take full responsibility for these comments. 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,” Pelini said in a statement. “I love it here in Nebraska and feel fortunate to be associated with such a great University and fan base. I again apologize to anyone whom I have offended.”
While that didn’t make anyone forget about his words, officials at Nebraska decided to move on from the incident and not punish Pelini at all. After a time, the shouts for his head became murmurs and it seemed like the incident was truly behind Pelini; then the Iowa game happened.
At halftime, when asked by an ESPN reporter about a pair of turnovers, Pelini responded with, “What kind of question is that?” Then later on in the game, in a disagreement with a call on the field, Pelini swung his hat within inches of an official’s face. He was issued a 15-yard penalty which he called, “chicken sh**” in the post-game press conference. He then said, “”If they want to fire me, go ahead…I don’t apologize for anything I have done.”
Pelini then apologized for his behavior shortly afterwards, saying how he really does want to stay at Nebraska. The tape was brought up once again and the calls for his head came back at full volume. The officials at Nebraska again decided to stick with him; they fell back on how he won at least nine games in the past six seasons. They did say though that they would not tolerate anymore of that type of behavior. A coach can only survive so for so long acting like that.
Then the national championship tweet happened and with it, a transformed Pelini was born.
A very popular Twitter account called Fake Bo Pelini (@FauxPelini) was gaining a lot of popularity within social media ranks. Its profile picture is the face of Bo Pelini photo-shopped holding a cat. The real Pelini tweeted at the fake account during the national championship, “Ok enough is enough… I want my cat back. You’ve had her long enough!”
That tweet garnered over ten thousand retweets and was the talk of the sports world. Suddenly people were talking about that tweet and not the recent tape or press conference. Just one action through social media had cast Pelini in a new light.
Pelini realized this and added on to it.
Before the spring football game for Nebraska, Pelini led the team through the tunnel carrying a cat. At the edge of the field he raised the cat in the air like Simba from the movie “The Lion King.”
The hot topic of the Nebraska off-season wasn’t the tape recording, and it wasn’t his surly attitude with the media at the end of the year; the focus was on Pelini embracing the fake Twitter account. By raising up the cat at the spring game, he poked fun at both the Twitter account and himself.
People saw a new side of Pelini. They saw past his on field yelling, his boorish behavior to the officials, and they saw him as a fun coach who the players loved. There haven’t been any recent articles about Pelini coming under fire because of his antics. Instead, people have been praising him for his good behavior.
Now he has been going viral by showcasing the new Nebraska uniforms by dressing up and parading around in front of the team. In the video he was pumping up the players and joking around with them. They all had fun, which is an image that Pelini is trying to convey to the public. He spent almost his entire segment on ESPN last week talking about cats, with some national championship talk sprinkled in.
With all the talk about Pelini as a good and fun guy, the transformation is complete. He has gone from one of the most hated coaches at the end of the season to one of the most beloved. From the tape recording to holding cats above his head, Pelini has shown the far-reaching effects that media can have in this age. As long as he continues his recent success both on and off the field, he’s likely to remain at Nebraska for a long time.