Two days after a Husker collapse that has the critics out with megaphones, Bo Pelini issued an apology after Deadspin.com published a report Monday containing 2-year-old audio of the Nebraska head coach going on a curse-filled diatribe about Husker fans and reporters.
The audio recording obtained Monday by Deadspin was made Oct. 8, 2011, following Nebraska's come-from-behind 34-27 win over Ohio State at Memorial Stadium.
The tipster told Deadspin the audio was recorded just before Pelini began his postgame radio interview on the Husker Sports Network.
In the audio, Pelini can be heard complaining about a reporter, calling him a "piece of s---." Then, when the discussion turns to fans leaving the game at halftime, Pelini said, "Our crowd. What a bunch of f------ fair-weather f------ — they can all kiss my ass out the f------ door."
Reached by the Journal Star on Monday night, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman said, "Basically I'm very disappointed and we're considering what to do and what the impact is on our program."
Asked whether it was a fireable offense, Perlman said, "I'm not going to comment on that." Perlman said he had not yet talked to Pelini about the incident.
In a statement, athletic director Shawn Eichorst said he had "addressed the situation" with Pelini and "expressed our deep concern."
“I am disheartened and disappointed by the 2011 comments published today attributed to Coach Pelini about our dedicated and passionate fans and supporters," Eichorst said.
A statement of apology from Pelini soon followed those.
“I want to sincerely apologize for my comments from two years ago which became public today," Pelini said. "I take full responsibility for these comments. They were spoken in a private room following the Ohio State game. I was venting following a series of emotional events which led to this moment.
"That being said, these comments are in no way indicative of my true feelings. I love it here in Nebraska and feel fortunate to be associated with such a great university and fan base. I again apologize to anyone whom I have offended.”
Deadspin reports that it received the tape after "our tipster was particularly exercised by Nebraska's flameout against UCLA on Saturday." The article had more than 100,000 views within three hours.
Calls to executives with the Husker Sports Network were not immediately returned.
The 41-21 loss to the Bruins produced strong criticism around these parts, including from former Husker standout quarterback Tommie Frazier, who Saturday night took to Twitter to express the opinion that the program should get rid of several defensive coaches.
Pelini was asked for his response to Frazier's comments during Monday's weekly news conference.
"I didn't read what he had to say, I kind of heard about it," the Husker coach said in a measured tone. "I can say this, we have a staff of players, people, administration, everybody here who is busting their butt to do what they can and win football games and do everything they can for these student-athletes. Since I've came back here, I've embraced the former players. And if he feels like that, then so be it, we don't need him. That's a shame.
"Until you've sat in this seat and done it, anybody can have an opinion. Anybody can do that. But like I said, it's easy to point fingers and stand outside and throw stones. I take it for what it is."
After Pelini's comments on Monday, Frazier offered a return response on his @TouchdownTommie Twitter account.
"I said what I said... I love the program and I love the fans. It's tough for some to hear but the program and fans deserves more," Frazier tweeted.
Added Frazier: "He's right, he doesn't need me. I'm not the answer but he needs someone to help define success for this program. Nebraska fans deserve more."
Several current and former Husker players came to the defense of Pelini on Twitter after the release of the Deadspin article.
"Difficult to hear the Bo audio today," tweeted former Husker linebacker Blake Lawrence. "This audio isn't for the public. Imagine your moments of indiscretion broadcast for the world to hear."
"I see (people are already blowing Coach Bo's comment out of proportion," tweeted Will Compton. "Gotta love the roller coaster."
Monday certainly was that.
Pelini opened his news conference with an 8 1/2-minute opening statement in which he said he had done plenty of "soul searching" since Saturday's game.
He said he took personal responsibility for the loss.
"By nature, I'm a perfectionist. I push. I have high standards. And that will never change. But at times I looked at our players and I saw a look like they had seen a ghost. When I look back on it and I think about it, I think about, ‘Did I, or have I, pushed to the extent where they're not having fun anymore?
"Believe me, there has to be some of that (pushing), but there also has to be a fine line. I want our players to get back to having fun again."
Pelini sports a 51-21 record as Nebraska's head coach but has come under heavy criticism after blowout losses and some defensive meltdowns -- most notably Saturday and last year's 70-31 loss to Wisconsin and 63-38 defeat at Ohio State.
Pelini said he spent much of Sunday and Monday morning with his staff discussing ways to move forward after seeing UCLA score 38 unanswered points.
"Have I let the inherent pressures or whatever there are -- my drive to push this program to the next level -- create a culture among our team to not allow them to have success? Or not give them the best chance to have success? I would say at this point, yes. Maybe I did do that," Pelini said.
The coach did not get into many specific changes he planned to make, though he did note the team now will practice on Sundays and take Mondays off instead.
Pelini stressed his belief in his players and his staff to get the season righted.
"We're going to move forward. We have a lot of football left to play."
Players aren't the only ones who need to start having more fun, he said.
"I need to start having fun again. I do. If I don't enjoy my job and I'm not enjoying what I'm doing, then how are they going to? ... It's the fact of being so driven and so task-oriented that you lose sight of other things that need to be part of it. I understood when I came back that this is a different place. I understood that. This is a special place. It's a great place. It's a different place. It's very unique.
"It can consume you. To a certain extent, is my drive to success consuming me?"