Category Archives: Bo Pelini

Bo, try to Remember the kid who Couldn’t get a Ticket

Dear Bo,

It has become clear that you don’t like me all that much.

In fact, your life would be so much better if you didn’t have me showing up to practice every day asking those really off-the-wall questions.

You know, about the quarterback.

Anyway, Nebraska fans want to know who will be the starting quarterback, honestly, because our offense was bad last season and the quarterback spot was less than spectacular. But you know all of that.

There’s so much more behind that question.

Mostly though, fans want to know because it matters in their everyday lives. It’s all the chatter at the local coffee shops, it’s the topic of debate, and young kids who idolize Nebraska football love the quarterback spot.

But really, Bo, there’s a bigger issue here.

In case you didn’t know the guy on the other end of this letter is not only someone you’ll be seeing in the postgame this season, but someone who remembers watching Nebraska football all the way back to age 4.

I’m not all that special.

I was just one of the thousands of kids who at one time or another wanted to play for Dear ole Nebraska U. As a kid I always looked forward to football Saturdays in Lincoln as far back as I can remember.

When Nebraska wasn’t on television or my family couldn’t afford a ticket, I’d lay on the floor by the radio listening to Lyle Bremser’s play-by-play, then as a cheap family outing we’d pile in our green Chevrolet Caprice and drive down to the stadium after the game — just to be around the biggest thing going.

I’d spend Sunday mornings reading every fine detail in the local newspaper, right down to every play of Saturday’s game and how my favorite players did on the stat sheet. I’d clip the photos and store them away in a scrapbook.

Watching the television news I hung on Tom Osborne’s every word as he commented to the media in the postgame.

I took note of his stoic approach — win or lose coach was always gracious with the media and complimentary of the opposition. He was a steady father figure that a lot of Nebraska kids like me looked up to and still do.

Bo, I know we’re all different in our approaches to life and games, so I’m not trying to compare you to T.O. That’s not fair to anyone. We’ve heard all the comparisons made to you and Bob Devaney because of his temper and no-nonsense approach to coaching, but it’s clear you’re just Bo Pelini.

You need to know that the guy behind the notebook or the television camera in the post game or at practice, well you see, he deserves respect for asking the questions. He shouldn’t be torn to shreds because he’s looking for an answer to the big question heading into Saturday’s first game.

We all do or say things we later regret, but I have to say you went a little too far last week when a television reporter asked for a progress report on the starting quarterback battle or when a starter would be named. I don’t recall your exact answer, but it came across as a sarcastic, ‘well, when is the first game?’

That’s his job, and whether or not you like the question, it matters that you’re consistent in your approach with the media too, just as you and your assistants are with the Huskers in practice every day.

The gist of it is you’re sick of being asked the question, so you took it out on the reporter — the guy behind the notebook or camera.

Hey, most reporters are thick-skinned and can take the attitude. In fact, my guess is that if you keep going this way the media as a whole will continue to probe harder. Honestly, we take it as a challenge.

Really, though, it’s not about the media. It’s about the young kid at home, watching the local news hanging on every word of Husker football news they can find.

You’ve seen these little fans show up at fan day wearing their Husker gear and asking for autographs. They are our future in many other ways that are far more important than a game.

If you continue to react the way you do to media questions on local television, kids are way too smart and they will pick up on that.

So, while the quarterback race is important to the success of Nebraska football, it’s more important for you to think before you speak.

Take the time to realize that the guy behind the camera or notebook is only doing his job and the whole Husker world is watching — especially that kid who couldn’t get a ticket.

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Pelini Still Learning Ropes of Media Balancing Act

By Todd Neeley

I get the whole freedom of the press thing. In fact, I wouldn’t have a job without it.

But the recent move by Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini to close off media access to the team this week — whether indefinite or not — was probably the right decision.

Before all of you beat guys go haywire, think about it — do you want your competitors to know the angles you’re working? Doubt it.

Pelini can’t afford to let trade secrets get out the door.

Linebacker Sean Fisher going down with a broken leg this week in practice was significant news, especially when you consider the guy is easily one of top three Huskers at the position.

A reporter at one of the area rags that cover Nebraska football made a comment on Twitter to the effect, ‘Bo could have avoided all of this by issuing a press release.’ Well, that’s partially true. Unfortunately it was later revealed that a friend of one of the coaches attending practice, saw Fisher get hurt and apparently announced it online in some fashion.

My guess is the guy wouldn’t have waited for a news release.

Yeah, that was a bone-headed thing to do.

It was equally bone-headed, though, for reporters to try to contact the Fisher family and his former high school coach on the day of the injury, looking for confirmation. This was apparently one of the main reasons Pelini rightly pulled the plug on the media.

If things get too hard for Pelini to control to at least some degree, there’s a good chance that even more damaging information could be out there for public consumption.

One beat reporter said he pursued the Fisher story hard because Pelini was unavailable to the media the day of the injury and the story was breaking in online chat rooms.

Although the coach was to be available the next morning, the argument goes that there’s no way reporters are waiting 16 hours after the incident to write about it.

I get that to a point. Yet I’m not sure the story was worth it for reporters to risk their access to the team. I can see both sides of this.

I’ve had to make tough telephone calls on deadline and there are times when you take more risks in calling about everyone you can think of to nail down a story — especially when conventional sources aren’t available.

As Pelini puts it, though, Fisher was still on the operating table when reporters were calling the family. Did reporters cross a professional line? Not really.

But this is where human sensibilities should kick in. The family shouldn’t be bothered at a time when their kid is in agony.

On the other hand, the coach has to come to a realization that we live in the now information age. Newspapers have more competition than they’ve ever had from online reporters, bloggers and even the general public.

Unfortunately, some newspapers let journalistic rules go out the window on this one. For instance, one story written on the Fisher injury cited no sources — anonymous or otherwise.

Obviously Pelini has become increasingly concerned about controlling the flow of information about his team. Other coaches developed paranoia a long time ago, so much that it has become common practice to not discuss injuries.

Unfortunately, seems like all of the injuries coming out of Husker fall camp have been season-ending — Mike Smith, Anthony Blue and Fisher. So it’s not the kind of information other teams could use to their advantage in any way.

This issue must be a major concern for Pelini, considering that Nebraska football has rarely ever shut out the press.

Because of the intense interest in the program, I get the feeling the coach won’t be able to hold out for long.

Welcome to Nebraska football.

Talk about a tough balancing act.