No football coach in America is going to be happy when their team commits 16 penalties for 145 yards in one game, but it’s hard to believe that many would act the way Nebraska’s Bo Pelini did during Saturday’s 9-6 loss at Texas A&M.
There were numerous times when ABC cameras caught Pelini screaming, throwing tantrums and going through what seemed to be a mini meltdown of sorts on the sideline as his team was called for penalty after penalty and got caught up in miscue after miscue.
The most intense of those moments came when Pelini was shown in a heated exchange with freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez midway through the second quarter. Martinez, who had just returned to the sideline after having an ankle injury evaluated, was berated by his coach and looked to have his heart and toughness questioned when Pelini shoved his finger in his chest during his fits of screaming.
Reportedly the incident shook up Martinez so much that he was contemplating quitting the team on Sunday. Rumors ran wild all over the Internet stating that the young quarterback left the team. But Pelini has told Omaha World-Herald reporter Mitch Sherman that Martinez’s status with the team remains unchanged.
Even if the reports turned out to be a rumor that just caught mighty big legs without ever having much substance, where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire, and it’s obvious that Pelini’s antics rubbed Martinez the wrong way.
This doesn’t bode well for a Nebraska team that has to prepare for a Friday afternoon battle with Big 12 adversary Colorado, a team that has regrouped to win their last two games after the dismissal of coach Dan Hawkins and now stands just one win away from bowl eligibility.
The Cornhuskers need the win or a Missouri loss to clinch the Big 12 North division and a berth in the conference championship, but there now seems to be an element of turmoil at this late juncture in the season. And Pelini hasn’t exactly shown a demeanor that would lead you to believe he’s going to to do a great job calming the waters.
Martinez has been the breakout star for this Nebraska team and one of the main reasons they’ve experienced so much success this season. While Pelini probably didn’t realize he had the spotlight of the national television cameras focused in on him during the altercation, it was still the wrong move to approach Martinez in the fashion he did.
There's a difference between acting fiery and acting crazy, and it seems Bo Pelini is walking a fine line between the two these days.
Pelini’s antics during Saturday’s loss shine a bad light on his team and the school, and the fact that his brother, defensive coordinator Carl Pelini, reportedly got into an altercation with a Texas A&M cameraman (http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/sports/college/texasam/7305718.html) as he was walking off the field only serves to compound the problem.
Things are going wrong at the worst possible time for this Nebraska team. If Pelini isn’t able to tone his personality down a notch, mend the problems with his quarterback and fix the crisis facing his team, then things could get even worse.