As you might imagine, the events of the past week haven’t affected the Jack Hoffman family's opinion of Bo Pelini.
Jack turns 8 on Thursday, which, because it’s Jack’s birthday, is now known as National Pediatric Brain Cancer Awareness Day.
You know about this in large part because of Pelini.
The embattled Nebraska football coach was the same guy who allowed Hoffman, a pediatric brain cancer patient from Atkinson, the opportunity to run the football in Nebraska’s Spring Game.
Nobody could’ve predicted or expected the national attention that ensued, including ESPN honoring Jack with an “ESPY” award for Best Moment.
“It’s the culture and the program that Coach Pelini created that allowed a player like Rex Burkhead to foster the kind of relationship that he did with Jack,” Andy Hoffman, Jack’s father, said before Saturday’s game.
Nebraska Football Uplifting Athletes, a student organization, is committed to bringing awareness to pediatric brain cancer, and held a road race over the summer that raised almost $15,000.
The group also welcomed Jack and other patients and families affected by child brain cancer to Saturday’s game and recognized them during pregame festivities. Its president, fullback C.J. Zimmerer, last week was among 22 college football players named to the AllState/AFCA Good Works team.
“Coach Pelini has helped us give this disease national recognition, recognition that it deserves,” Andy Hoffman said. “It’s on the cover of a game program, and 90,000 are going to get to see and read about pediatric brain cancer. That creates huge awareness, and that’s what ultimately helps us generate funding for the disease, which helps us find cures.”
The South Dakota State coaches joined in their support, too, wearing Team Jack caps during Saturday's game. Hoffman said he didn’t know about that plan until he read about it in the newspaper.
Andy and his wife, Bri, are both alums of South Dakota State, and Andy, for one season, covered the South Dakota State football team for the student newspaper in Brookings.
But he made it clear Saturday where his loyalty and support lies: With Pelini, and Big Red.
* When the guy running an elevator that’s partially barricaded by a big, yellow “DO NOT ENTER: MAINTENANCE” sign tells you to get on, anyway, do you?
* This tweet from former Nebraska sports television anchor/radio host and current ESPN personality Matt Schick best sums many folks' feelings on the current state of affairs: “Nebraska fans do not expect national championships. They expect national relevance. There’s a difference.” Bingo.
* So, Bo says he knows who released the audio tape. And to think, it took more than 35 years to identify Deep Throat.