Three weeks into the 2013 season, Nebraska football is 2-1, more or less where it was expected to be, and it's still a legitimate contender for a Legends Division (and maybe even Big Ten) title. Yet after one of the worst PR days of his (and most coaches') life, head coach Bo Pelini looks like a dead man walking.
So, here's another log on the fire: Bo Pelini should resign.
Pelini shouldn't be fired, because nothing he's done comes even remotely close to a fireable offense. He should resign, but not because of the team's struggles on the field. He should resign, but not because he said Nebraska didn't need Tommie Frazier. He should resign, but not because he privately cursed out the fan base a couple years ago.
He should resign because he is clearly unhappy in Lincoln, and that's no way for someone to live.
Not that the Pelini tape needs any verification, but I've heard more than once in idle coach gossip that he's miserable there.— Steven Godfrey (@38Godfrey) September 16, 2013
The most instructive part of the Pelini f-bomb tape isn't the profanity; grownups get angry and swear, and football coaches get angry and swear a lot. They swear at their own players, they swear about their own fans, and they'd probably swear at ice cream if it melts too quickly. No, the deepest cut is Pelini's overt fantasizing about leaving Lincoln — in no small part to spite the fan base.
They can all kiss my ass on my way out the f--king door. 'Cause the day is f--king coming now. We'll see what they can do when I'm f--king gone.
Remember, that's after a win. And it's not the way someone talks when it's the first time they've felt wronged. It's the way someone talks when the pressure and resentment have been building for years and the top finally blows. Pelini offered an essentially complete apology on Monday, but despite his "I love it here in Nebraska" statement, the sentiments of his rant were clear.
Pelini is not the caricature he's made out to be, some Anger-Bot 5000 that throws bricks at children and puppies. He embraced pediatric cancer patient Jack Hoffman and his family to the point of letting Hoffman take a run to the house during the spring game. He went beyond a cursory tribute for fallen UCLA walk-on Nick Pasquale, putting decals on his own team's helmets to honor Pasquale* for the day. His team embraced Penn State with the utmost of class in the first game after the Jerry Sandusky situation exploded. He has a sense of humor. And even with his continuing reputation for unbridled rage, Pelini hasn't been seen lighting his players up on the sideline since the unfortunateness with Taylor Martinez in 2010.
* Nebraska also let off 200 blue and gold balloons for him, which is even more awesome, but for Pelini's own sake we hope the university isn't delegating game-day balloon decisions to him, too.
One gets the sense that all Pelini wants to do is coach his team, that he has no use for everything else that comes with his job. In a sport where the coaching ranks are filled with used car salesmen, Pelini probably couldn't sell a pickup truck to a Walter White rolling a barrel of money through the New Mexico desert. Pelini doesn't do commercials (or if he does, nobody ever bothers to put them online). He never did ESPN until this past offseason as part of the "car wash" that the rest of the Big Ten did, too. Even then it was stilted and uncomfortable.
And hey, as a coach Pelini's done plenty for the school, going 9-4 or 10-4 in each of his first five seasons in town and going to three conference championship games in the process. That shouldn't get any coach in America fired.
For that, Pelini got broadsided by Tommie Frazier after the first loss of the season, then after Pelini tried (and failed) not to take the bait, he got done dirty by the release of that f-bomb tape, two years after the fact.
If Pelini was convinced he was gone two years ago, imagine what he must be feeling now. He stays, and this is how the fan base repays him the minute a game goes sour? A couple of (what Pelini must be thinking are) cheap tricks and as Corn Nation notes, talk of a boycott? What's the point of staying in Lincoln at that point?
So perhaps this season is the end of the line for Pelini in Nebraska. It's sort of hard to imagine how his career survives this without something major happening — a trip to the Rose Bowl, say, or another 10-win season. It's understandable, but still, it's a shame.