From USA TODAY Sports and Associated Press reports
Hours after Bo Pelini fired back at criticism from one of the Nebraska program’s all-time greats, the sports website Deadspin posted 2-year-old audio of the Cornhuskers’ coach using profane language as he talked about fans and two newspaper writers.
Pelini’s problematic Monday comes on the heels of yet another brutal loss for the Huskers. UCLA wiped out an 18-point deficit in Lincoln and beat Nebraska 41-21 on Saturday.
The Deadspin audio posted Monday afternoon caught Pelini speaking off air with Husker Sports Network play-by-play man Greg Sharpe before his postgame radio interview following Nebraska’s win over Ohio State in October 2011.
Pelini had been criticized by fans and media in the days leading to the Ohio State game for the Huskers’ performance the week before in a 31-point loss at Wisconsin.
In the audio, Pelini repeatedly uses an expletive to refer to what he calls “fair-weather” fans. Pelini issued an apology statement Monday evening.
“I want to sincerely apologize for my comments from two years ago which became public today,” Pelini said in the statement. “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 fan base. I again apologize to anyone whom I have offended.”
Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman said Monday that he’s discussing the “impact” of the audio with athletics director Shawn Eichorst. “I’m aware of it and I’m disappointed,” Perlman said.
“I am disheartened and disappointed by the 2011 comments published today attributed to Coach Pelini about our dedicated and passionate fans and supporters,” Eichorst said. “I have spoken with Chancellor Perlman and I have addressed the situation with Bo and expressed our deep concern.”
Perlman declined to answer whether Pelini was in danger of losing his job.
Brian Christopherson of The Lincoln Journal-Star asked Perlman if it was a fireable offense. Perlman: “I’m not going to comment on that.”
Messages were left for Pelini, athletic director Shawn Eichorst, and Husker Sports Network general manager David Witty.
During his weekly news conference, Pelini responded to criticism from former Huskers quarterback Tommie Frazier, saying if Frazier doesn’t like how he’s running the program, he doesn’t need his support.
Frazier, who led the Huskers’ unbeaten national championship teams in 1994 and ’95, ripped the direction of the program on Twitter hours after the loss to UCLA.
Frazier called for the firings of Pelini’s defensive assistants and bemoaned what he saw as a lack of adjustments made in the game. He had been honored at halftime for his selection this year to the College Football Hall of Fame.
Pelini said he heard about the tweet but had not read it. The sixth-year coach said the staff and administration are doing all they can to win games and help the players.
“Since I came back here, I’ve embraced the former players, and if he feels like that, then so be it. We don’t need him. That’s a shame,” Pelini said. “Until you’ve sat in this seat and done it, anybody can have an opinion; anyone can do that. It’s easy to point fingers and stand outside and throw stones, so I just take it for what it is.”
Frazier did not respond to messages from The Associated Press but issued a response via Twitter on Monday afternoon: “He’s right, he doesn’t need me. I’m not the answer but he needs someone to help define success for this program. Nebraska fans deserve more.”
The Huskers led the Bruins 21-3 in the second quarter. UCLA scored touchdowns on its first four possessions of the second half and totaled more than 500 yards of offense.
Nebraska allowed more than 600 yards in a win over Wyoming in the opener. That was after defensive meltdowns in a 70-31 loss to Wisconsin in last year’s Big Ten championship game and in a 45-31 bowl loss to Georgia.
In his Saturday tweet, Frazier wrote: “It’s time to get rid of the defensive play caller, the Dc, lb dl and db coaches. I hate saying this but this crap is getting old. How in the hell do you not make adjustments or put your players in the position to compete? If this is what is going to happen for the remainder of the season, count me out. I don’t care if we lose a game but the way we are losing is just not what Nebraska fans deserve. I have fought, bled, and cried over this program. I didn’t do all that for the program to become what it has today. Time for change!”
After his playing career ended, Frazier was an assistant coach at Baylor and later the head coach at Doane College in Crete, Neb. He was 3-17 in two years at Doane. He now works in Omaha for a health foundation.
Category: Big Ten