Pelini Mishandles QB Martinez’ Absence
By Todd Neeley
What, we can’t go one week into Nebraska fall camp without a controversy?
The Lincoln Journal Star reported Friday, http://dld.bz/rNke, that redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez — one of three guys considered to be front-runners for the starting job — was absent from practice Thursday.
OK, so what? Is it a crime for Nebraska football players to actually have lives outside of the gridiron?
The way the story was reported by the Journal Star was stunning. No offense, but a blog, a story and a video clip? Seems a bit much. But Head Coach Bo Pelini may have brought this all on by himself.
In a way I get why the LJS covered it the way it did.
On Thursday Pelini cancelled media availability at the last minute following practice, leaving beat writers hanging on the vine with nothing to talk about other than to write that ‘no reason was given.’
So once again Pelini sparks a media frenzy, culminating in that Martinez wasn’t at practice, something bad must have happened, and that Pelini didn’t want to talk about it.
Following practice Friday Pelini’s only comeback was to essentially tell reporters that Martinez missed practice, we knew he was going to and was excused, and it’s none of your business.
That’s where the coach has it all wrong.
One thing I’ve learned in covering the Huskers in the past six or seven years is that reporters don’t like it when the head coach doesn’t shoot straight. In this instance Martinez’ absence may be entirely legitimate, but the way the situation was handled leaves a lot to be desired.
Let’s face it, there’s a giant spotlight on Nebraska football in general and the quarterback race in particular. Pelini knows it, and should have learned by now that he’s not only the head coach, but he’s the mouthpiece for the program.
That carries a lot of responsibility.
Martinez returned to practice on Friday, but not without a media frenzy of sorts. This didn’t have to happen.
Maybe the guy had a personal matter to tend to — that wouldn’t be a crime or a controversy. But because Pelini was intentionally evasive and vague, any reporter worth their salt would dig on the coach for an answer.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Had Pelini simply said, ‘hey, Taylor had a personal matter to tend to and had to miss practice,’ that would have been enough.
Instead, let the feeding frenzy begin.