The Omaha World-Herald's Tom Shatel got Bo Pelini to admit something that most Husker fans have surmised ever since the Huskers stormed off the field after a 9-6 loss to Texas A&M last November. In that game, Nebraska was flagged for 16 penalties, while A&M was only flagged for two. Let's put that in perspective: Ben Cotton got as many flags on one play as the entire Aggie squad the whole game. And of course, there was that horrific roughing the passer penalty that led to the winning field goal.
It's pretty much a universal conclusion that Courtney Osborne's "roughing the passer" penalty was one of the worst calls of 2010. But Shatel gets Pelini to admit that he was warned by the officials that something like this was coming:
Did the officials screw that call? Absolutely. Was it done intentionally? At this point, you certainly have to wonder about it, now that Pelini has leveled the charge. But that doesn't change the fact that Pelini's outbursts earlier in the game predicated the bad call. That's something Pelini seems to own. This admission by Pelini makes the Big XII officials look even worse, but it doesn't justify Pelini's actions in any way.
"Did any of those officials tell you during the game you were going to get jobbed?'' I asked.
"Yes,'' Pelini said.
What did they tell you?
"I won't say,'' he said. "But it was highway robbery. An absolute joke. I've moved on.''
So while you were yelling all night, were you sticking up for your players?
"No doubt,'' Pelini said. "I have their back. I always will. But if I had to do it over again, I would have done it different.''
I've long felt that Pelini is a work in progress as a head coach. He's a brilliant defensive mind, and a great motivator. But he's still rough around the edges, and that night in College Station, we saw a jagged edge sabotage the Huskers chances that night. I believe Bo continues to grow and learn how to be the head coach, and while we'll never see him as stoic or unflappable on the sideline, I think he'll learn to manage his anger on the sidelines. What works with his players doesn't work - and won't ever work - with the officials.
I do have one question about this admission. Typically, conference administrators take a dim view to any criticism of officiating, and leveling a charge like this against Greg Burks' crew would seem to draw the ire of the league office. But in this situation, who would take offense? Dan Beebe's authority expired one month ago, and would (or could) Jim Delany take action on something that occurred in another conference? My instinct is that neither party will pursue this going forward; I'm sure that Nebraska already leveled this charge through Big XII channels last November. (And judging from Dan Beebe's comments after the Colorado game, the Big XII likely didn't spend much, if any, time or effort looking into the situation.)
Did Bo go out of his way to bring this up? No...in fact, it was a response to a direct question. So I don't know that either conference commissioner would act on it. It would be interesting to get a comment from someone in the Big XII office though...