Coach at any level, and you should know two things right off the bat: don't tick off the fanbase, and don't tick off former players.
Especially when that fanbase is passionately in love with your program and players are revered by said fanbase.
Yet, in less than 24 hours, Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini managed to do both. First, he told former quarterback Tommie Frazier that he didn't need him or any player who doesn't support what he is doing at this point in time, per the Omaha World-Herald:
We have a staff, players and administration—everybody here—who's busting their butt to do everything we can to win football games and to do everything we can for student-athletes.
Since I came back here, I've embraced the former players, and if he feels like that, so be it. We don't need him. That's a shame. Until you've sat in this seat—until you've sat and done it—anybody can have an opinion. Anybody can do that. It's easy to point fingers and stand outside and throw stones. I take it for what it is.
Those words were an interesting choice to say the least. I get it; Pelini is a passionate man, and he should believe in what he is doing. Otherwise, what is he even doing coaching this football team?
However, in this case, a simple "I'm sorry he feels that way, and we'll work hard to make everyone proud of us moving forward" or "no comment" would've sufficed.
Instead, Pelini's comments on perhaps the most revered player in Huskers history set in motion a series of events that should show the rest of the college football world what not to do if you want to keep your job.
A few hours after his comments on Frazier, an audio tape of Pelini passionately defending his team following a classic comeback victory over Ohio State magically surfaced. In that tape, recorded two years ago, the coach calls for fans to f--- off and much more (warning: what follows in this video is NSFW language).
The cussing and passion isn't the problem here; it's the fact that Pelini called those fans "fair-weather." If there is a fanbase that is anything but fair-weather, it is that of the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
You know, the fanbase that puts their butts in the Memorial Stadium seats every Saturday for a sellout streak that has extended over a half a century at this point in time?
It's one thing to say you were upset with the fans leaving the stadium at the half. It's a whole different thing when you insult the entire fanbase like Pelini did.
His apology on Monday reeked more of "sorry I got caught" than "I really feel stupid and will work to earn your trust back." Here it is in full, per Huskers.com:
I want to sincerely apologize for my comments from two years ago which became public today. I take full responsibility for these comments. They were spoken in a private room following the Ohio State game. I was venting following a series of emotional events which led to this moment. That being said, these comments are in no way indicative of my true feelings. I love it here in Nebraska and feel fortunate to be associated with such a great University and fanbase. I, again, apologize to anyone whom I have offended.
Losing favor with the most loyal fanbase in all of college sports is a kiss of death, and Pelini only has himself to blame for whatever comes his way in the aftermath of this situation.
Let us also not forget that this isn't an isolated incident. He was already on thin ice with a fanbase who have been starving for a conference championship since 1999, after seeing three national championships in a four-year period in the mid-'90s.
Pelini has led his team to four conference championship games and has come up empty in variously frustrating fashion—whether it was a crazy last-second field goal or getting worked over by a 7-5 team that was only in the championship game by default.
This taped outburst also wasn't the first time he has let out raw emotions following a game. He did it publicly following the infamous Texas loss in the 2009 Big 12 Championship.
Then there are the infamous and numerous issues he has had with the media in Nebraska. Who can forget his "media blackout" for an entire week because he didn't like how the media reported an injury of one of his players?
Of course, there are also the reports of Pelini calling out and cussing out media members, something that was addressed in light of the tape released this week.
Through it all, the administration and the athletic department have had Pelini's back, but the release of this tape and the inevitable effects it will have on his relationship with Cornhusker fans makes all that has come before it pale in comparison.
Will Pelini survive this latest blow? It appears he has for now, but it is clear that Huskers AD Shawn Eichorst was less than amused by this latest situation. It may end up being one of, if not the final nail in the coffin of Pelini's coaching career at Nebraska.
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