It was not a good day for embattled head football coach Bo Pelini, as the University of Nebraska closed out the 2013 football season with a 38-17 loss to Iowa. Pelini also snapped at ESPN reporter Quint Kessenich in a brief segment at the end of the first half before picking up a 15-yard penalty later in the game for swinging his cap in the direction of an official.
Things were already simmering before a four and a half minute press conference that may very well seal his fate as coach of the Cornhuskers. Here is the transcript:
Bo Pelini: “It’s been difficult, this team had a lot to persevere through, stick together through – and they did that and I’m proud of them. Regardless of how it ended today, it was unfortunate, we shot ourselves in the foot a number of times, there are things that go against us, and it is unfortunate. We’ll take questions.”
Reporter: Asks question about mistakes that cost his team in 2013 and previous years.
Pelini: “Those mistakes plague any football team. You turn the football over you are going to have some difficulties.”
Reporter: Asks about failed fake punt in third quarter.
Pelini: “We thought it was there, we missed a block, we liked the look they were in, and we whiffed on a block, the most important block. We took a chance and it didn’t work out, it was my fault.”
Reporter: “What did they tell you on the unsportsmanlike conduct?”
Pelini: “Well, I thought that was a chicken sh*t call. Excuse my language on that. I’ve never seen anything like that before. I’ve seen a lot worse than that. I saw Kirk Ferentz on the other sideline acting worse than I was acting, I didn’t see a flag come out on him. The bottom line is they knew they blew the call. They blew it. They blew that call over there, on that third down, and everybody in the stadium knew it. They didn’t man up enough to pick that flag up.”
Reporter: Asks question about perseverance and what the team had gone through with injuries.
“It’s been incredible with what we’ve gone through. Like I said, I told those kids in there, who were hurting, I said, ‘You don’t need to apologize to anybody, you need to walk out with your head held high.’”
Reporter: Asks a question on Pelini’s job status.
Pelini: “I really don’t concern myself with that. You guys can concern yourself with that.”
Reporter: “Was that a distraction today for the coaching staff?”
Pelini: “I really don’t.”
Reporter: Asks if he has been informed on what the university’s possible timeline is.
Pelini: “That’s not my decision. So why are you asking me the question? Talk to somebody else.”
Reporter: When? (Pelini does not answer)
Other reporter: “Can you tell us about Quincy Enumwa’s 10th touchdown catch?”
Pelini: “Quincy has been a stud all year. He’s been big time.“
Reporter: “When you went into the tunnel today, there were a lot of fans saying how much they loved you. How much did that mean to you?”
Pelini: “It’s great.”
Reporter: “Do you feel comfortable about your job status? Do you feel like you have made your case?”
Pelini: “I don’t coach to make a case. You guys have chosen to make a story out of it all year. And that has impacted our football team. It’s hurt our football team. Let’s call a spade a spade. If they want to fire me, go ahead. I believe in what I’ve done. I don’t apologize for what I’ve done, I don’t apologize to you, I don’t apologize to anybody. Myself, or this staff. Our record since I’ve been here speaks for itself. And this program is heading into a good direction. You choose not to think so, that’s your prerogative. All I know is myself, the staff, the people who have been associated with this program since I’ve been here can look themselves in the mirror and feel good about what they’ve done.”
Seconds later, Pelini got off his chair and left the podium.
Good luck with that.
By throwing the media under the bus, Pelini likely sped up his exit process.
As I’ve said in previous columns this year, Pelini is a good coach and a good man. And his six-year body of work at Nebraska is solid. But this was a trying 8-4 season, although injuries did play a huge factor. It would have been a 7-5 season if not for the Hail Mary that beat Northwestern, who is winless in conference play this year.
Remember Pelini’s reaction in real time in that moment. He chose not to celebrate, instead he had the look of someone who received a stay of execution.
Pelini also went off today on a sideline analyst, then went after the media. This time, it was not Pelini venting off-the-record to someone who happened to be recording it for public consumption two years later.
The relationship between Pelini, the university, the media and portions of the fan base is now beyond repair. And he’s correct in saying it impacted his team this year. It is also already impacting the 2014 recruiting class.
At age 45, Pelini will quickly resurface in the coaching world, at the very worst as a coordinator at the college or professional level.
But at this point it is likely best for both parties to go their separate ways. The university is going to lose a man who may not have totally succeeded, but brought a ton of passion to Nebraska’s program and athletic department.
Video of the post-game press conference is below: