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Bo Pelini: Passionate or Hothead - He's No Osborne

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We’ve seen a lot of sideline antics from Pelini already this season. To date, Peline has been seen calling Tyler Wortman an "effing moron" on the field after calling at timeout against Baylor, grabbing a player’s facemask, screaming f-bombs into his headset, at assistant coaches, screaming at referees,  and picking up a personal foul penalty against Virginia Tech. After the Oklahoma loss, he refused to allow media access to his players, something that hasn’t happened  for over 30 years.

When we see Bo Pelini screaming at someone on the sideline, whether it be a ref or player, no doubt we’re put in the position to wonder if we’d like that to happen to us - if Pelini were our boss would we work for the guy? Would we allow our son to play for Pelini given he was talented enough to play for Nebraska? If we were the referee, would be give the close calls to Nebraska?

Each of us has opinions about those questions and we assume that our feelings are similar to the guy sitting next to us. Clearly the program is in disarray and being lead by a madman who has anger control issues. Or he’s a passionate guy who’s going to do whatever it takes (without breaking NCAA rules because that sort of thing isn’t tolerated at Nebraska) to get his team back to the winning ways we’d all like.

Or maybe he could be a passionate madman with anger control issues who’s going to do whatever it takes.… oh, hell, you get the idea. Whichever approach you take you’re sure to bring out the extremes to support your case.

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Bo Pelini prefers American cheese with his ham sandwich. The referee? No, he's a swiss kind of guy. Damn the luck. (Photo by Dennis Hubbard)


Perhaps that’s part of the problem. Nebraskans spent 25-30 years watching Tom Osborne on the sideline. Osborne rarely if ever swore let alone changed his expression despite what was happening on the field. We’ve been presented with that image of a perfect Nebraska coach for so long that it’s ingrained in our brains. (A good test is to ask yourself how much you hated Steve Spurrier for screaming at his quarterbacks. Admit it, - It wasn't all because he coached the Gators.)

Bo Pelini is not Tom Osborne. If you’re one of those people who thinks every Nebraska coach should have Osborne’s sideline demeanor, you’re going to be disappointed. Bo Pelini looks like he could burn someone’s head off ordering a ham and cheese sandwich. There’s going to be a TV camera on him all of the time with a production guy just dying to catch him f-bombing an assistant or glaring at an assistant coach. It’s doubtful the production guy will be cutting to him as he gently explains to Tyler Wortman why he’s lined up improperly. Add to that one of the byproducts of withholding your players from the press is that they still have articles to write - leading to more discussion about Pelini’s "angry coach" status.

None of these match the image that Tom Osborne created. I submit that this is the biggest problem with Pelini’s image right now. It’s a problem Nebraska fans must overcome, especially if it takes longer than expected for Pelini to become successful.