Husker fans on Twitter found lots of red boxes on their timelines Wednesday afternoon, as Terry Pettit's tweet about Bo Pelini went viral. Pettit's words carry a lot of weight around the state of Nebraska as the builder of Nebraska's volleyball program. They've hit a nerve as many people blame Bo Pelini for Nebraska's struggles in 2015.
The second paragraph of Pettit's message struck me, though...and not the way it hit most Husker fans:
Usually when a head coach is fired, he encourages his former players to play hard for the next coach, to make themselves proud. When Coach Pelini left Nebraska he did the opposite. He continued to place his own vindictiveness ahead of the future of the young men he had coached. If we believe the next leadership at Volkswagen only has to build new cars to create trust then I believe we are mistaken, and if we believe that NEbraska only has to win nine games to "fix" the culture, I believe we are equally mistaken.
You almost have to have been hiding under a rock to not know what Pettit is referring to: Pelini's meeting with his players three days after he was dismissed. Specifically, the extremely offensive names he used to describe Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst. But locally, most people have focused on the start of that meeting, and not about what else Pelini said.
Something like this:
My advice is, fellas, is, it'll be different, but if you choose to stay here, you give the new guy a chance. Because I went through that, fellas. I went from an old-school coach in Earle Bruce when I was at Ohio State to somebody who came in, and he was totally different. Totally different. It was a big-time adjustment. Whoever it is will probably come in here and talk bad about what we've done, or sit there and say, "We gotta upgrade this, we gotta upgrade that." But at the end of the day, fellas, you'll able to control your own destiny by what you put on film and how hard you work. That's what you have to remember.
I've highlighted the key points from both Pettit's tweet and the Omaha World-Herald's transcript of Pelini's meeting. Basically, Pelini said what Pettit thought he should say in that situation. There was a lot more in that transcript that the local guys missed, but the national guys caught:
The naughty words will get the headlines, but there's some really interesting stuff in that Pelini story beyond Bo's potty mouth.— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) December 17, 2014
As the 2015 season has spiraled downward with loss after loss, some people have chosen to focus the blame on players that are still under the mind-control of Pelini and his former staff. Steve Sipple of the Lincoln Journal-Star calls it "bizarre" and despite more than a few denials, the accusations continue.
I've now heard from two family members of Husker players whose sons tell them the narrative of guys mailing it in is significantly overblown— Jack Mitchell (@JackMitchellLNK) November 4, 2015
And in both cases, the players have been effusive about how much they like the new coaching staff, particularly their position coaches.— Jack Mitchell (@JackMitchellLNK) November 4, 2015
Yet we still hear about the need to "rebuild" and that there is a "toxic culture" that even bleach can't disinfect. But here's my point: perhaps the "toxic" part is actually outside the program. Sipple talks about how unfair this is to not only Mike Riley but the team as well:
The narrative also is a slap in the face to Riley and his assistants because it suggests their teaching and influence aren't sufficient enough to override "the big Pelini brainwash," or whatever you want to call it.
What's more, the narrative is disrespectful to veteran players on the team — young men, not boys — who can think for themselves and perform accordingly, as opposed to being under some sort of Jim Jones-like spell.
It's been a rough season, and all of these allegations and attacks on Pelini serve no purpose other than perpetuate the problem. Bo Pelini is gone, and he ain't coming back. That bridge has been napalmed. Most Nebraska fans want no part of Bo Pelini, and as we well know from that audio, Bo Pelini won't ever want to come back. It's over.
It's time to simply move on and to stop blaming Pelini and hating on the players on this team.
Looks like Alex Lewis, @luxurylew on Twitter, deleted his account. Not surprising once you see tweets like this. pic.twitter.com/QTFZHzjKVy— Josh Peterson (@joshtweeterson) October 5, 2015
What's done is done at this point; now it's time to move on to 2015 and beyond. Nebraska fans are known for treating visitors well, such as what BYU's family and friends said in September.
But maybe...just maybe... it's time for the Greatest Fans to show that to our own players. Now, more than ever, it's time to stick together, in all kinds of weather.
Let's turn the page on that "other guy". If we want him to be in the past, let's leave him there and move on.