Once again, this was supposed to be one of my every-other “weeks off.” But once again, I couldn’t resist some comments on the topic which I believe is the most discussed in Nebraska today—Husker football. Please read on:
Finally, voices of reason take charge of the “should Bo go?” controversy ignited and fed by a few voices in the news media.
Those responsible for the leadership of the football program at the University of Nebraska—Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst (presumably with the approval of Chancellor Harvey Perlman, who has ultimate authority over the leadership of all athletic departments at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln), has spoken up loud and clear.
The bottom line:
Bo Pelini will continue in charge of the Cornhusker football program. (A conclusion substantially strengthened when Eichorst, in his monthly radio program, expressed strong words of support for the way Bo and his injury-plagued team of veterans and freshmen conducted themselves during the 2013 season.)
Critics point out that this is not necessarily an indication that Bo will continue beyond the bowl game appearance at year’s end.
Shatel Gets Equal Front-Page Play
But the general impression is that Bo will continue through at least another season, giving him a chance to field a veteran, physically sound team, in contrast to the injury-plagued team which had a third-string quarterback and a number of red shirt freshmen or true freshmen playing starring roles this past season.
Pelini expressed his gratitude and apologized for his on-the-field-outburst of temper which cost the Huskers 15 yards and for his post-game press conference at which he used an obscenity to describe the official’s call which had provoked his anger.
He then went back to work in an effort to prepare his injury-plagued squad for a bowl game against as yet an unnamed opponent.
World-Herald sports columnist Tom Shatel continued his criticism of Bo but finally predicted he will coach in 2014. On the Sunday World-Herald sports page, expression of gratitude from Pelini and his apology were given equal front-page play with a continuation of Shatel’s campaign of blistering criticism which had included calls for Pelini’s firing. (More about Shatel’s performance later in today’s column.)
Not surprising, I suppose, was the fact that Shatel’s critical column was given major play at the head of a run-over inside page while the continuation of the Eichorst/Pelini column appeared at the bottom of the page.
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World-Herald Editorial Page Endorses Pelini Support,
Contrasts Huskers’ Conduct With That Of Other Teams
While Shatel was continuing his criticism of Pelini, The World-Herald editorial page—following the University administration’s endorsement of Pelini’s retention as head coach—published a lead editorial with the headline: “Husker Nation moves forward.”
The editorial strongly endorsed the University of Nebraska leadership’s decision to extend Pelini’s tenure as head coach.
The editorial also said:
“We hear reports of Alabama fans sending threats of violence toward the Crimson Tide kicker who missed three field goals in Saturday’s Iron Bowl. Michigan and Ohio State players engaged in a fistfight during their game, and an ejected Buckeye issued a dual middle-finger gesture toward the Michigan fans. Pelini vented his frustrations at a referee and at a press conference.”
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Was Local Television Coverage Fair To Pelini?
Consider This Example Of Channel 7 Performance
One example of TV coverage of the Pelini issue: Channel 7 sponsored a call-in public opinion “poll.”
Without waiting for “poll” results, Channel 7 said that public opinion appeared evenly split on whether Pelini should stay or be fired.
This was linked with some interviews in a tavern or some other eating place where people gathered to watch the game. Among the several people interviewed for broadcast on television, all the comments favored Pelini’s retention. Those interviewed pointed out that the players stood solidly behind him and also pointed out all the injuries which have plagued the team this season.
Speaking of television’s role in the controversy: The telecast of the game showed clearly that Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz was storming around on the sidelines in dissatisfaction with the officiating. At one time Ferentz started to charge onto the field but was restrained by one of his assistant coaches.
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As I See It, My Apology Is In Order
Speaking of the news media keeping the record straight, I apologize for a mistake which I made in last week’s column. I said Pelini’s Huskers went into the Iowa game with a 7-3 season record. The truth was that the season record was 8-3. Now, of course, it’s 8-4, the same as Iowa, where Kirk Ferentz continues to enjoy a $3 million annual salary and a contract that extends to 2020 despite a winning percentage below 55% during his long career at Iowa. Pelini’s winning percentage is more than 70% at Nebraska.
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A Tom Shatel Column That Deserves Praise
I wrote earlier in this week’s column that I would return to the subject of World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel’s criticism of Bo Pelini and the way the university administration chose to announce his continuation as the Husker head coach.
But then I read Shatel’s column in the Tuesday paper, and it was Tom Shatel at his best: Clearly worded, non-emotional reciting of information of interest to a good many readers.
This week’s column was particularly informative in regard to possible bowl-game matchups, including various possibilities for the Cornhuskers.
There was also interesting comment on a number of other subjects, including Creighton basketball.
I could find fault in only one of his column items. He reported that he had received a great many telephone calls, presumably in regard to his efforts to get Pelini fired.
But he didn’t indicate in any way how those telephone calls were divided between support of Shatel and support of Pelini.
Since I was critical earlier on today of non-scientific polls on any subject, I wouldn’t say the telephone calls to Shatel were a clear indication of general public opinion. But nonetheless it would have been interesting to see whether a majority of callers agreed or disagreed with Shatel’s efforts to unseat Pelini or agreed with the university administration’s decision to assure Pelini of extended tenure.
But it was a pleasure to read Tom Shatel’s column Tuesday. A good example of well-written informative journalism.
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Kenny Bell’s Colorful Support Of Pelini
Draws World-Herald Sports Page Attention
This week’s up-beat column-ender:
World-Herald sports page comments following the University administration’s decision for a continuing Pelini’s tenure included this from Sam McKewon in a column which started:
“However many conference or national titles Bo Pelini wins at Nebraska, the signature line for his era has already been spoken. And fittingly for Pelini, he’s not the one who set it.
“In the wake of the Huskers’ 28-17 loss to Iowa, wide receiver Kenny Bell did.
“I would play for Bo Pelini against Satan himself on a team of demons at the gates of the underworld,” Bell said.
Columnist McKewon said this indication of what Pelini means to his players and staff may draw some laughter from Husker supporters but then “take a pull of beer, pause, then say, ‘You know, it’s true.’”
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