Steven M. Sipple of the Lincoln Journal-Star sat down with Bo Pelini to discuss a lot of the undercurrent topics of discussion following a somewhat disappointing 9-4 season in 2011. I call it somewhat disappointing because, frankly, nine wins is a pretty good season most places. But at Nebraska, when fans were thinking about playing in the Big Ten championship game and a BCS bowl game last season, falling short is disappointing. But that 9-4 record was still better than anything his predecessor did.
But what does Bill Callahan have to do with this? I don't think there is a Nebraska fan out there who doesn't think that Bo Pelini has done a better job ("in every way!") than Bill Callahan. That's not the point. The question is, can Bo Pelini do better? And that seems to be the undercurrent of conversation following the Capital One Bowl loss to South Carolina. After the game, the negative blowback against Pelini surprised me. I still don't think it's a large portion of the Nebraska fan base, but it's definitely larger than I thought it was on the morning of January 3rd.Sipple's column started with Pelini refuting the notion that he tried to control his temper. It's an answer I can't really accept; we all know what happened during the Texas A&M game in 2010. Pelini lost his cool that night multiple times, which UNL chancellor Harvey Perlman called "unfortunate" and "something we'll have to address with Bo." And frankly, Pelini was better this season with the only real on-the-field blow-up occurring in the fourth quarter of the Capital One Bowl, long after the rest of the team had melted down. So why did Pelini not admit that he was working on controlling his temper? Or that the Chancellor had made public statements about his outbursts.
Then it gets a little juicy, from my perspective. Pelini says that the media should know that he's not a nut job, yet some members of the media choose to do portray him in that fashion. Take Matt Schick of Omaha radio station KOZN-1620 AM. He started criticizing Pelini's halftime interview with ESPN's Quint Kessenich before it even began. I've seen Mike'l Severe, his KOZN co-host, suggest that Pelini is going to hire cooking instructors for his staff. So yes, Pelini does have a point here.
And then there's Severe today calling Pelini a "baby" and taking offense that Pelini feels some members of the media are miscategorizing him. I understand why talk radio hosts like Schick and Severe make outrageous statements; they are in the business of having conversations and sometimes radio hosts have to stoke the conversation. It's entertainment. Just don't deny what you are doing.
The second half meltdown against South Carolina being the result of Pelini losing his cool? Pelini called it "asinine". That fallacy already been debunked...yet you still hear people insisting that Pelini's outburst in the fourth quarter caused the third quarter breakdowns on the field.
I don't know whether anybody changed their opinions about Pelini from these interviews....but I also think people heard what they wanted to hear. Critics read the comments and see Bo being Bo. Pelini supporters (and yes, I count myself as one of them) recognize the double standard some members of the media have. I don't think it's an anti-Pelini mentality, mind you. I just think, at times, the sports media stoops toward entertainment to manufacture controversy. And that's unfortunate, in my mind.