Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bo's bluntness

It doesn’t quite rival Jim Mora, Dennis Green or Mike Ditka. It does not come close to rivaling former Nebraska head coach Bill Callahan, who when coaching the Oakland Raiders referred to them as “We’ve got to be the dumbest team in America in terms of playing the game,” after a 22-8 loss to the Denver Broncos.

However, current Husker head coach Bo Pelini has been known to be on the surly side with the media at various times after Nebraska has a subpar practice. One of those days was Wednesday, August 26, in which Pelini publicly chided the team’s performance in practice as the team continues preparation for its season opener on Sept. 5 at home against Florida Atlantic.

“Unsportsmanlike Conduct,” which is hosted by Kevin Kugler and Mike’L Severe on Omaha radio station 1620 AM KOZN, played the unedited version of Pelini’s post-practice briefing with local media:

Pelini: “We're just not a real good football team right now. For a lot of reasons.”

So what about the offensive line competition?
Pelini: “No one's stepped up and taken control. Bunch of average guys running around out there right now.''

Is it a matter of losing focus toward the end of practice?

Pelini: “It doesn't matter whether it's the beginning, end, middle. It doesn't really matter, does it?''

Do they get it?

Pelini: “Apparently not.''

Did he say anything after practice to let them know?

Pelini: “What do you think?''

Of course, it should also be dually noted that players and fellow assistant coaches also echoed Pelini’s sentiments on the team’s subpar practice. Thursday’s effort was much better:

Nebraska Statepaper Husker beat writer Samuel McKewon, one of my former Daily Nebraskan cohorts, addressed Pelini’s personality with the media:

As one who works as a sports reporter/photographer myself for two small-town weeklies in Northern California (St. Helena Star and Weekly Calistogan), I know what media members go through. I have also had the experience of covering pro and college sports, which has a massive volume of people covering the team daily. So much so that you lose that intimacy with the players and coaches.

In general, I like Pelini’s honesty and forthright personality. That’s where he is a refreshing change. Granted, Frank Solich was not the most well-spoken coach. Callahan was but what did that get him other than a 27-22 record and a ticket out of town?

Pelini is who he is. Nebraska knew that when they hired him. There’s no turning back.
Pelini, however, needs to realize that no coach wins when he gets cross with the media. There are too damn many of them and they feed off each other. One little soundbite can reverberate for years.

In general, I think what McKewon is trying to get across is that you can't judge Pelini's interactions with the media simply by the soundbites that come when he's fired up. The press is getting a great deal of info regarding what's going on inside the team, it's just not all rhetoric from the head coach. Pelini gives an honest opinion, and allows the assistants and players to speak freely. Believe me; I understand that it is better than Callahan and/or Pederson blowing sunshine, then wheel out the coaches and players to speak from a script.

However, as the head coach, Pelini needs to understand that part of the job is being the front man for the media. It’s not like the local media had printed negative stories on the program. Granted, printing the stories on running back Quentin Castille’s suspension for what Pelini indicated was a “clear violation of team rules,” was not a pleasant topic but I think the media as a whole supported Pelini’s decision.

In a nutshell, I’m completely on board with Pelini venting after the team has a practice that does not please him. After all, it’s part of his way of letting players know that they need to earn their keep.

He just needs to realize that even if he is pissed off, part of his job is to answer questions at least respectfully. After all, we are talking Lincoln, Nebraska, media – not the New York Times.

It’s a matter of balancing being tough without being surly.

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