Amid uncertainty, Pelini planning on coaching Saturday

2013-09-17T21:25:00Z 2014-08-20T20:24:09Z Amid uncertainty, Pelini planning on coaching SaturdayBy BRIAN CHRISTOPHERSON / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

The man at the center of the storm now was at the center of a circle of media types that went 40 deep.

This was not your typical Tuesday post-practice gathering in the land of Husker football.

“Whoa, watch her,” Bo Pelini said as one young newswoman almost got trampled by the stampede to meet him.

“Is there something going on?” one player asked sarcastically as he watched the scene unfold.

Something. It's still not sure what, exactly.

As Tuesday night closed, a haze remained around the Nebraska football program, with Husker coach Pelini's job status still seeming in limbo after Monday's release of an expletive-heavy rant from Pelini about Husker fans that was recorded secretly two years ago.

On Monday night, Pelini talked in person about the issue with Husker athletic director Shawn Eichorst and  by phone with UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman.

But he said he had not had any further conversations with either of the men Tuesday.

With nothing said, Pelini was still  planning on coaching in Saturday's game against South Dakota State.

“I haven't been given any assurances, but you just proceed with the information you have, and I'm the head football coach until someone says different,” Pelini said.

Perlman, meanwhile, was offering no clues about what, if any, moves were coming in regard to the sixth-year head coach.

Tuesday morning: “We're going to think about the issues and make the best call that we can in a reflective way," Perlman said.

Tuesday night: "I know why you're calling, but I'm not saying anything,” Perlman told the Journal Star.

Pelini issued a statement of apology about it Monday. But on Tuesday, he faced the questions — first in the morning during his 10-minute appearance on the Big Ten teleconference, then in the post-practice evening.

“I'm sorry that it got out there, and obviously it's not representative of how I feel,” Pelini said. “I think we've all said things behind closed doors that weren't for public consumption. If everybody's personal thoughts in a frustrating moment or personal moment all got out there, we'd all be in trouble."

Pelini said he thinks most fans will understand the situation, while also acknowledging, "I might lose some."

"But I think I've built up enough points with our fans over the last five years in how I've conducted myself, how I've run this program, and what we've done with this program over the last five years to earn some forgiveness for something that was said in a private moment."

Husker players were not made available for comment after Tuesday's practice. The questions all came to Pelini, offensive coordinator Tim Beck and defensive coordinator John Papuchis.

Beck said he knows it has been a difficult 48 hours for Pelini, who also is facing criticism for Nebraska's on-field performance in a 41-21 loss to UCLA last Saturday.

Said Beck: “It's hard to give your heart and soul to something, and the sacrifices that coaches make, and it can so easily be taken away — or be tarnished, I should say. I shouldn't say taken away. You can't take away from what he's done, but to tarnish what he has done."

Pelini did not know who released the much-analyzed audio, which was distributed to the masses by Deadspin.com.

But he was aware “that there was something out there."

"I think everybody out there knows that obviously there was an agenda behind it,” Pelini said.

Deadspin, a website that touts itself as “sports news without access, favor, or discretion,” on Tuesday released its email exchanges with the tipster who sent the audio.

“Attached is an audio clip that has been heard by very, very few people and it's only fair that the fanbase of Nebraska know what Pelini thinks about them,” the tipster wrote the website. "Them being the same people that pay his salary.”

Pelini said the rant, which featured a tirade of F-bombs, was made after an emotional week and evening. He made the remarks after Nebraska's 34-27 comeback win over Ohio State in 2011, just before doing his postgame radio show with Greg Sharpe of the Husker Sports Network.

"I'm not making excuses, but I'm a grown man and I accept responsibility for what I said,” Pelini said. “I think we've all said things that we don't necessarily mean. You get frustrated and you learn from it. That was a long time ago that that happened. I believe I've continued to grow as a head coach in a lot of different ways since that point."

Asked about the perception that he is not happy coaching at Nebraska, Pelini said that is not the reality.

"I've had opportunities to leave Nebraska, so obviously I enjoy it here. My family enjoys it here. I don't know where that perception comes from. I've had a good experience here. I've been very active in the community. I have great relationships here. And I have support here. I have great support here by the fans. If that wasn't the case, I wouldn't be here anymore because I've had opportunities to leave."

While various reports have linked his name with other potential jobs, Pelini said he has never pursued another opportunity while coaching at Nebraska.

"I've had people pursue me."

Pelini continued to receive support Tuesday on social network sites such as Twitter from his current and former players.

Popular running back Rex Burkhead, now with the Cincinnati Bengals, was among those who weighed in.

"Coach Bo would do anything for every single one of his players! Thinking about firing him? You've got to be kidding me!" Burkhead tweeted.

Pelini said he told his current players to not worry about his situation.

"This doesn't affect you. It's not about you. This is a situation that involves me. Just stick with your football and focus on what you have to do. It's a situation that I need to deal with personally."

Between the lines, the Huskers have their own challenges, possibly having to get through the Saturday ahead without their starting quarterback Taylor Martinez.

The senior is nagged by turf toe and did not practice Tuesday. Although Martinez still might play Saturday, it was senior Ron Kellogg III and freshman Tommy Armstrong who split reps at practice.

Despite the obstacles and chances to be distracted, Pelini expects his team to not lose focus this week.

"Our players are resilient. Trust me. They'll be ready to go," he said. "It's a strong group of kids and kids I deeply believe in."

Reach Brian Christopherson at bchristopherson@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. Follow him on Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.

Copyright 2015 JournalStar.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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