FanPost

Revealing Words...and Winning Ways

After wondering about whether the leaders of the Husker football program would realize the need to respond to this moment with maturity, I see that Bo Pelini responded with more of his "us against the world" ranting when talking about this team's response to Saturday's loss. Speaking of Husker fans, those people who desperately want to see him succeed (and, who, coincidentally, allow him to rake in huge amounts of money in salary because of their dedication to the program he leads), Pelini said:

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“We just have to prove those people … the only way you shut ‘em up is to win football games, and that’s what we’re going to do.” I fail to see how, in the long term, a coach who refers to his team's fans as "those people" can generate the necessary good will to effectively lead a program which--from the fans' perspective--represents the state AND all that is good about the state (not just its football team).

What most troubles me about this quote (and I'll spare the analysis of some of his other bunker-mentality quotes of recent vintage) is how similar it is in tone and content to the person he replaced. At least the coach-who-shall-not-be-named had the good sense to say, after a 35-point loss to a conference rival, "The fans expect so much from us, and we felt that we let them down, and we want our fans to understand what we're going through," he said. "I just want that to be said so people understand there is passion in this program. There is a belief in what this program stands for. That's why I came here. I love this place. I love our team. I love the opportunity to coach here."

No one, especially me, wants to hear Pelini's predecessor in our heads when he speaks. Or, worse yet, pine for some of the words spoken by the predecessor. I'm especially concerned about words because that's the basic idea behind what I teach here at the home of Frank Solich's football program: the words we use reveal, and shape, how we see the world around us.

Words can't entirely change how coaches coach and players play, but they can certainly frame how both approach their tasks. So, no matter what else the coaches--and the mostly well-intentioned fans and media, think about X's and O's--Pelini has to think and talk differently if we wants to succeed as the face and voice of Nebraska, especially when Tom Osborne officially retires. Like it or not, that's part of the job he signed up for.

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UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="19" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Emphasis" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="21" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Emphasis" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="31" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Reference" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="32" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Reference" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="33" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Book Title" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="37" Name="Bibliography" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" QFormat="true" Name="TOC Heading" /> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} </style> <![endif]-->



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