Much of the postgame discussions about Nebraska's thrilling 34-27 come-from-behind victory over Ohio State revolve around Bo Pelini's post-game press conference with Dirk Chatelain of the Omaha World-Herald. It all started with Chatelain's column that called for Taylor Martinez to be benched if he had another below-par performance. It was Pelini's last chance to bail on Martinez, and implied Pelini's career depended on it
Well, Martinez went out and played a whale of a game, earning Big Ten offensive player of the week honors. At the press conference, all was fine until Chatelain asked Pelini about Martinez, and the situation spiraled down from there. How you took the situation depends on your perspective. Many fellow members of the media took offense. Pelini supporters at the press conference gave Pelini an ovation. Martinez critics ripped Pelini, while other fans, myself included, ripped Chatelain.
So which is it? Well, in this situation, everybody is a loser. Bo Pelini, Dirk Chatelain, the rest of the media, and fans.Bo Pelini's isues with the media are well known. I hope Bo can work on these issues over his career, and I hope it's a long one at Nebraska. But Saturday night, Bo didn't rant and rave. He didn't start the press conference with this. He waited until Chatelain entered the conversation, and really opened the door by asking about Martinez.
Dirk Chatelain has developed a reputation for writing pointed articles, and last Friday's might be his worst. His arguments were a muddled mess as far as I'm concerned. Martinez played injured last year, his teammates support him, due to injuries and defections, he's really the only quarterback available to play.... so bench him if he has a rough game.
My favorite was that Pelini is somehow coddling Martinez. Have people forgotten about the Texas A&M game already?
Got that? Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.
Now a lot of people think Martinez should be benched, preferring to go for what's behind door #2, likely Brion Carnes. All we know about Carnes is he looked good playing against reserves in the spring game and rather rough in two mop-up appearances in September. I don't think the evidence supports making the switch, but others have that opinion.
And that opinion is driving much of the debate over Chatelain's article. If you think Martinez isn't suited to be a quarterback, you love the article. It's spot on. If not, you probably see it as a piece of tabloid journalism and a steaming pile of excretement.
Much of the media is in dismay about Pelini's press conference behavior. Fair enough, I guess. They are looking to hold Pelini accountable. But who's holding Chatelain accountable? The Omaha World-Herald's Lee Barfknecht jumped into the fray today to suggest that Pelini was offended someone had the "gall" to second guess his quarterback decision.
If second guessing and analyzing were all that Chatelain did, Barfknecht might have a point. But Chatelain went further. He suggested that Pelini's career is on the line. It was excessive hyperbole, much like Barfknecht went overboard in defending his coworker.
Barfknecht mentioned that ESPN's Adam Rittenberg labeled him "Bo Buzzkill" as a slam. It wasn't meant as a slam by Rittenberg; Rittenberg referred to Pelini shunning the hype of Wisconsin vs. Nebraska. That's bad journalism on the part of Barfknecht, who's been around long enough to know better.
The media trying to defend Chatelain's column are not doing themselves any favors. They are using the bully pulpit they have to defend someone that screwed up big time last week. And fans are the losers for this in the end, because we have to wade through the disagreement and the garbage to learn about our team. Our opinions get shaped by this, and when situations like this spin out of control, we're all losers.
And that's a shame. There's no need for this situation to exist. Bo Pelini needs to clean up his act... but so does the media. And the media isn't holding themselves accountable for their own transgressions. Start there.