Bo Pelini’s seat at Nebraska is so hot he’ll be standing up for the remainder of his certain-to-be-brief career as Cornhusker-in-Chief.
Clubbed 41-21 at home by UCLA last week, Pelini’s squad gave up 31 points in the second half and blew an 18-point lead. Former Nebraska quarterback and College Football Hall of Famer Tommie Frazier fired off an angry tweet during the game, calling out the staff for poor play-calling and adjustments:
“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!”
The situation got even worse when the website Deadspin released audio of the coach’s 2011 tirade after a win over Ohio State that followed a 31-point loss to Wisconsin. On the tape, Pelini blasts writers and fair-weather fans, dropping several f-bombs before a postgame radio interview.
“It took everything in my power to not say, ‘[Expletive] you, fans. [Expletive] all of you.’ [Expletive] ’em,” Pelini said on the tape. “… Our crowd. What of bunch of [expletive] fair-weather [expletive] — they can all kiss my ass out the [expletive] door.”
Things haven’t gotten better between the coach and the Nebraska faithful. Normally legendary both for their loyalty and courtesy, at a school that is the all-time NCAA leader in both wins and winning percentage, they’ve sold out Memorial Stadium 328 games in a row.
Yet Pelini has tried their patience, both with his behavior and results. In a narrow 37-34 opening win over Wyoming, the Husker defense gave up 602 yards. Last year they lost 70-31 to Wisconsin in the Big 10 Championship Game, and 45-31 to Georgia in the Capital One Bowl. The volatile Pelini is 51-21 at the school with records of 9-4, 10-4, 10-4, 9-4 and 10-4 over the last five seasons. He’s won division titles four times, but never a conference crown or national title, never finishing higher than 14th in the polls.
Frosty reception: Bo Pelini’s drawing fire for an angry tirade that surfaced this week, and subpar results over his 5-year tenure as Nebraska head coach. Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost is the logical replacement (Steve Dykes/Getty Images).
At a school with a proud tradition, the lack of progress or results in big games has fans growing restless, and the Nebraska administration expressed concern and disappointment after the off-air recording surfaced. The embattled coach and his 2-1 squad face FCS power South Dakota State this weekend, and unless the 5-time National Champion Cornhuskers dominate from start to finish, the dissatisfaction among fans could become audible and embarrassing.
Pelini might not last the season, and if he doesn’t, attention would center on Scott Frost. Frost, 38, was 24-2 as a Nebraska starter, winning the 1997 National Championship. He grew up in Wood River, Nebraska and played six seasons in the NFL, learning the game from Bill Walsh, Tom Osborne, Bill Parcells and Chip Kelly as a player and assistant coach. At Oregon he’s offensive coordinator for a team that’s averaging 61.3 points and 672 yards a game. He’s a dynamic recruiter, telegenic and personable. In every way the anti-Pelini, and soon there will be a chorus of Husker fans calling him home.
If Pelini suffers a mid-season ouster, the NU administration would likely name an interim coach. It’s highly unlikely that Frost would leave the Ducks before the end of this season, with Oregon competing for a national championship.