Commentary on Coach Pelini's tirade

     On Sunday November 21st, 2010 the University of Nebraska’s Chancellor, Harvey Perlman, issued a statement in response to the abusive behavior Head Football Coach Bo Pelini had displayed the night before during the team’s 9-6 loss to Texas A&M. To the university’s embarrassment, before a national audience, Coach Pelini was seen on multiple occasions not only verbally assaulting game officials but, in what can only be described as an unchecked fit of rage, screaming uncontrollably at his starting quarterback. The response from quarterback Taylor Martinez at the time was an emotionless stare and a dismissive turn, unfortunately so was the university’s.
     What’s alarming here is not just the behavior of Coach Pelini, but the remarks made by Chancellor Perlman. Among other things, he said “Bo has a lot of passion for his football team and there is a strong upside to that. But again, overall, the conduct was unfortunate last night.” Unfortunate!!!? He went on to say “There is a culture of intercollegiate athletics that involves coaches talking strongly to players. That’s unfortunate it had to happen on national television. I think that occurs in a lot of programs.” It’s unfortunate because he was caught on camera? And we dismiss it because it “occurs in a lot of programs.”? Is he suggesting (at least implicitly) that the verbal “bomb throwing” that occurred is okay as long as it remains off-camera?
     Fortunately Coach Pelini offered a response of his own on Sunday. Unfortunately his contrition was confined to the fact that the incidents were caught while cameras were rolling. There was never a direct apology to those he may have offended, but apparently he was reprimanded enough by those in charge to willingly voice the “company line.” Coach Pelini on Sunday said this, “My job isn’t to win football games, it’s to prepare our young men for the rest of their lives. That means accountability and discipline.”
     I can’t help but remain skeptical. Who wouldn’t? Less than 24 hours earlier Coach Pelini’s inexcusable tirade exhibited nothing of this concept of “preparing young men for life.” I want to know what type of "accountability and discipline" Pelini endured for his disgusting actions. My hope is that he will earn back his title of coach and fully realize the responsibilities that goes with it,  TO DEVELOP and PREPARE YOUNG MEN FOR LIFE.
     Only time will tell if the “talk” he had with Nebraska’s administration will make any difference. If history is any indication there will need to be a lot more to Coach Pelini’s own development than simply a promise to “never do it again.” Behavior modification is never a long-term solution.

Steven D Wright, DMin