Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Bo Pelini has some explaining to do.
On Monday, Dom Cosentino of Deadspin released a profanity-laced audio file from 2011 of Pelini ripping Cornhuskers fans and media members. (Warning: NSFW language in linked article and audio clip.)
UPDATE: Friday, Sept. 20, at 9:20 p.m. ET
Bo Pelini released a letter on the official Nebraska Football website apologizing to fans for comments.
There is no better time than right now for me to personally thank you for your support of Nebraska Athletics and Nebraska Football.
This past week has obviously been a difficult one for many people associated with the University of Nebraska and our football program. I wanted to take this opportunity to say I regret the comments that I made in private two years ago, and apologize to Husker fans everywhere.
We all make mistakes in our lives, both personally and professionally, and like everyone else I am human. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes and correct them to improve yourself as a person. I hope you can see that I have done that and continue to strive to improve each day.
Most importantly, I want all of you to know that my comments in 2011 were not in any way representative of my true feelings about our great fans and donors here at Nebraska. The time, energy, money and passion you invest in our football program and all of our athletic programs is second to none.
It is an honor to lead our football team into Memorial Stadium in front of more than 91,000 fans for eachhome game. It never ceases to amaze me how many of you show up on the road, no matter where we travel. That type of fan support makes a difference and certainly does not go unnoticed.
On the field, we have the opportunity to be a good football team. Last week’s game wasn’t the result any of us were looking for, but we will bounce back. There is still a lot of football to be played and I like the attitude of this football team.
I appreciate the support of Chancellor Perlman and Shawn Eichorst, and once again the support that all of you provide for our athletic programs. Your support makes it possible for student-athletes, coaches and staff to have a great experience at Nebraska, and provides us with every opportunity to succeed.
Thank you and Go Big Red!
UPDATE: Wednesday, Sept. 18, at 5:20 p.m. ET
Nebraska Cornhuskers legend Tom Osborne released an official statement commenting on Chancellor Harvey Perlman and Director of Athletics Shawn Eichorst's decision on Bo Pelini.
I was asked for comments concerning the recent incident involving Coach Pelini by members of the press and felt that it was inappropriate to respond until University officials had reviewed the situation.
After the comments were made public on Monday, I informed the Chancellor and Director of Athletics that I had become aware of the tape involving Coach Pelini last fall, about a year after the Ohio State game in 2011 when the comments were recorded. After I had listened to the tape I visited with Coach Pelini about it and expressed my concerns. Bo had not heard the tape at that time. I visited with all my coaches regularly about their conduct and language throughout my tenure as Athletic Director.
While the comments were certainly not good, I realized that Bo had gone through an emotional week and an emotional game and was in a setting where he thought his comments were entirely private. I visited with Bo on a weekly basis and did not find that his attitude toward the fans or the press as expressed by those comments were at all in keeping with what I knew his true attitude to be. He understands that the most important asset the Athletic Department has is the amazing fan support that we enjoy.
Bo’s academic record with the football team has been the best in my recollection. The behavior of his players has been excellent for the most part, he has won three divisional championships and had one of the best win-loss records in college football for the past five years. I recognize that there have occasionally been controversies but I have seen a willingness to change, reflect and improve in Bo over the years. I am very hopeful that the players, coaches and fans will pull together as unity of purpose has been one of our major assets over the last 50 years.
UPDATE: Wednesday, Sept. 18, at 12:55 p.m. ET
Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman and Director of Athletics Shawn Eichorst released an official statement on the incident via the UNL Newsroom, making it clear that Pelini will not be disciplined for his actions.
“The comments made by Head Football Coach Bo Pelini in 2011, published Monday, are unfortunate and deeply concerning to us, as they would be to anyone who loves this university. Our coaches, staff and student-athletes must be held to a high standard and Coach Pelini's remarks were unfair to the legions of Nebraska fans and not what we expect from a representative of this university. Former Director of Athletics Tom Osborne became aware of these comments and the existence of a recording more than a year ago, and addressed the matter with Coach Pelini. We have observed, and many others have commented, that Coach Pelini’s demeanor has significantly improved since the time of this incident. Coach Pelini has given us his assurance that he understands the seriousness and inappropriateness of his comments. We believe he is sincere in his apology and in his regret. We are prepared to put the matter to rest. Our football student-athletes, coaches and staff deserve all of our support and we know the Nebraska faithful will be there for them.”
UPDATE: Wednesday, Sept. 18, at 12:10 p.m. ET
Deadspin's tipster has now publicly explained his reasoning for releasing the controversial two-year-old tape:
I don’t hate him as a person or anything. In any case, I dont’ want to get into that. As I said before, I believe “it’s only fair that the fanbase of Nebraska know what Pelini thinks about them.”
Unfortunately for him, Bo Pelini doesn't seem like he is going to letting this betrayal go easily:
“It was an unfortunate situation that came up, as far as somebody who obviously, deliberately tried to attack me personally, by posting something from two years ago that was said in a private room between myself and two other people in an extremely emotional time.
You say things that you don’t necessarily mean. That’s why we as human beings often need time to regroup. Somebody chose to record it, and hold on to it, until, to attack me at some point. And that’s what happened this week, it’s unfortunate, and it’s been a difficult couple of days.”
Pelini also says he has a good 'idea' of the identity of the person who leaked the tape:
“I think we’re a lot closer to that, if it hasn’t been completely determined already. I have an idea.”
UPDATE: Wednesday, Sept. 18, at 2:10 a.m. ET
Omaha.com's Rich Kaipust supplied some information from Pelini's point of view:
Bo Pelini said “I fully anticipate coaching this weekend” as he met with reporters Tuesday and further discussed the fallout from the Deadspin report that included audio from an expletive-filled private conversation after a game two years ago.
Pelini said he had not met with University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman or Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst on Tuesday after having brief discussions with both Monday night.
Asked if any suspension had been discussed and if he would accept one, Pelini said: “I haven’t heard anything about anything as far as that’s concerned.”
---End of update---
Update: Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 12:45 p.m. ET
Pelini had more to say on Tuesday, stating that it was a surprise there was audio of the clip.
He added that he was upset the tape was leaked.
The Nebraska coach also weighed on on whether he's concerned he is losing the support of the fans.
--End of update--
Update: Monday, Sept. 16, at 8:50 p.m. ET
Shortly after the release of the tape, University of Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman and director of athletics Shawn Eichorst released a statement on the school's official website saying they are in discussion regarding the Pelini situation.
Eichorst expressed his disappointment in the head coach and support for the fans:
I am disheartened and disappointed by the 2011 comments published today attributed to Coach Pelini about our dedicated and passionate fans and supporters. I have spoken with Chancellor Perlman and I have addressed the situation with Bo and expressed our deep concern.
Perlman previously told Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Star Journal that he had not spoken with Pelini in regard to the incident. Perlman also told Associated Press writer Eric Olson that he is considering the impact Pelini's comments will have on the program, as tweeted by Ralph Russo:
Pelini issued an apology, as reported in a series of tweets by Brian Rosenthal of the Lincoln Star Journal:
Not surprisingly, Nebraska fans are outraged with Pelini, and some have taken to the comment section of Christopherson's piece to express their thoughts.
Justin P., for instance, said it's time for Pelini to go:
No question Bo has to go. It's time for a change...Come on people!! Wake up and start believing your program is worth a big-time coach. This job never should have been handed over to a first-time head coach, but you all begged for it and here you are. Face it. This program has turned into Iowa.
Another fan posted under the name NothingSafe and backed Pelini's comments, agreeing that there are too many flaky fans:
Bo's right there are too many fair weather fans here. Your all mad cause he's calling you out on leaving early. You dont do that especially when the team is down. Everyone claims to be such big Husker fans but then leave early. If your a fan you support the team the ENTIRE game. I see it like clockwork every year winning or losing fans leaving early.
Tony, a longtime Nebraska fan who was in attendance at Nebraska's loss to UCLA, said he understands Pelini's frustration, but he has no room to criticize a fanbase that has achieved the longest sellout streak in NCAA history:
I think he's wrong to criticize a fan base that shows up to every game and supports it unlike many others. If he's frustrated, that's fine. He should be. But he shouldn't take it out on the fans.
--End of update--
According to Cosentino's report, the tape was recorded without Pelini's knowledge after Nebraska's comeback victory over Ohio State in 2011.
Pelini was speaking with Greg Sharpe of the Husker Sports Network and an unidentified woman after the Cornhuskers scored 28 unanswered points in the third and fourth quarters to beat Ohio State at home. As the tape revealed, a number of fans, specifically students, had left the stadium with Nebraska trailing 20-6 at halftime, upsetting Pelini.
Pelini called the crowd "fair-weather" fans, along with a number of four-letter words.
Before Pelini's rant on fan support, he also took shots at several media members, specifically calling out Tom Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald.
In the tape, the Nebraska head coach took aim at another employee of the World-Herald, which Deadspin speculates might be Dirk Chatelain. Pelini had called out Chatelain in his press conference following the contest with Ohio State, reported by Jason Siffring of BigRedNetwork.com.
Pelini's anger during the press conference came as a response to a column by Chatelain that was critical of quarterback Taylor Martinez and Pelini's handling of his signal-caller.
The release of this damaging audio clip couldn't have come at a worse time for Pelini, as the Huskers are fresh off a collapse at home against UCLA. Nebraska jumped out to a 21-3 lead before giving up the next 38 points and falling 41-21 to the Bruins.
Pelini responded by saying, "We don't need him," as tweeted by Christopherson:
Cosentino said his source was "particularly exercised" after Nebraska crumbled against UCLA.
With this latest audio release, Pelini might have moved one step closer to losing the Nebraska fanbase and, potentially, his job.