Steven M. Sipple: Pelini sideline behavior becomes overwrought topic

2012-11-11T23:50:00Z 2012-11-15T16:35:05Z Steven M. Sipple: Pelini sideline behavior becomes overwrought topic JournalStar.com

Things I know and think I know:

Bo Pelini experienced a strong P.R. moment during his call-in radio show last week when he met head-on a question about his fiery sideline demeanor.

He has grown tired of the topic, which is understandable. It has long since become overwrought. But as long as folks incessantly discuss it, the fifth-year Nebraska coach might as well put his side out there. I get that.

Memo to Pelini: No need to address the latest so-called situation. 

Late in the first half Saturday, television cameras caught Pelini and senior safety Daimion Stafford in what appeared to be a heated sideline discussion. Stafford angrily pointed his finger at the coach. The back-and-forth lasted about 10 seconds. ABC play-by-play announcer Sean McDonough referred to it on-air as "an unpleasant exchange."

Pelini has said he knows television cameras are trained on him, forever awaiting an uprising. He knows he has developed a reputation. On his radio show, he admitted he has "lost his cool" in the past but since has made "adjustments."

His exchange with Stafford hardly qualifies as an uprising — it came nowhere near the magnitude of Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville's angry outburst Saturday in which he slapped the cap and headset off a graduate assistant coach. 

Bad news for Bo: Tuberville's actions perhaps guaranteed the coaches'-sideline-behavior topic will be in the forefront this week.

Exchanges like Pelini and Stafford's occur frequently in various sports — much more often than many fans seem to realize. Pressure to win is intense. Pelini is a vicious competitor. Same goes for Stafford. Tempers occasionally flare in the heat of a moment. The parties typically move on quickly. I'm guessing that was the case Saturday.

Pelini enjoys a strong rapport with his players. It's one of his strengths as a coach. He said his players appreciate his competitive spirit. I've talked to several players over the years who say that is indeed the case.

Was Stafford out of line in how he approached Pelini? Without knowing the circumstances and what was said, it's difficult to make that call. It does appear Pelini showed restraint.

Pelini finds himself in a bit of conundrum in that he knows cameras often are affixed to him on the sideline. The flare-up with Stafford had hit YouTube by Sunday morning. Social media has increased scrutiny on the sideline and elsewhere. Fifteen years ago, such situations often went unnoticed.

However, "One thing you can't do is you can't completely change who you are," Pelini said.

Pelini is emotional and passionate. It's part of what defines him and helps explain his success. Granted, I've long felt he sometimes goes overboard berating officials. That said, my favorite coach of all time is Bobby Knight. Enough said (as far as my stance goes).

In fact, when it comes to Pelini's sideline behavior, many feel enough was said some time ago.

* As for Tuberville, he crossed the proverbial line with his actions during a double-overtime win against Kansas.

To make matters worse, Tuberville, in a postgame interview, portrayed the incident as a harmless mistake, apparently unaware that video replays already had been viewed by thousands. Bottom line, Tuberville raised his hand to a colleague's head and in doing so served as a poor example to student-athletes. He deserves a one-game suspension, at the very least.

* Tom Osborne stays in regular contact with Bill Snyder, in large part because of their interest in mentoring young people. 

Would love to hear their football discussions.

Osborne, the 75-year-old Nebraska athletic director, has great admiration for the manner in which the 73-year-old Snyder has guided Kansas State to a 10-0 record. The Wildcats have committed only 31 penalties all season (including just one Saturday night at TCU) and are plus-20 in turnover margin.

"He's just doing it sort of the old-fashioned way," Osborne said. "They're playing pretty good defense. They have a multitalented quarterback, a strong guy who makes good decisions. And they have enough people around him to make things happen. Bill's done a great job."

Yeah, not too bad at all.

Even so, I'd pick Oregon by two touchdowns

* Matt McGloin comes off as a rugged competitor. Maybe he's not after all. It was disappointing to hear the Penn State senior quarterback's weak conspiracy theory for why the controversial fumble call went against the Nittany Lions. He says it's PSU against the world. Ah, the victim. How about taking responsibility for a loss instead of blaming officials?

* Wonder if Steve Spurrier thinks Texas A&M could beat some NFL teams. He said recently Alabama could do so. So much for that discussion.

Reach Steven M. Sipple at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com.

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About the writer

Steven M. Sipple | Lincoln Journal Star

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.


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