Nebraska vs. Fresno State, 9.13.14 (copy)

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini talks with defensive back Nate Gerry before the kickoff against Fresno State on Sept. 13 in Fresno, Calif.

Much of what transpired Sunday afternoon at Memorial Stadium seemed eerily similar to 2003.

Nebraska, two days after a stirring, day-after-Thanksgiving road victory by its football team, held a news conference to announce it was firing a coach that had just completed a 9-3 regular season.

There was one notable difference, however.

Unlike Benard Thomas did 11 years ago, no current player piped up from the back of the room at the news conference, asking the athletic director a question.

Nor did that same Husker player have an awkward elevator ride with the athletic director afterward.

In fact, no current Nebraska football players attended Sunday’s news conference, when athletic director Shawn Eichorst explained his decision to fire seven-year coach Bo Pelini.

Also unlike 2003, current players were able to voice their opinions much sooner.

Thanks to social media, the world learned the players' reactions within minutes of Eichorst’s morning statement that he’d fired Pelini.

Perhaps the initial one-word tweet from junior defensive end Jack Gangwish summed it up best:


Gangwish also shared portions of an Eichorst email in which the athletic director informed players of his decision.

“I very much wanted to meet with you in person this morning but with so many of you out of town on the off weekend, logistically, it was impossible to gather all of you in Lincoln.

“I have decided to make a change in the head coach position at Nebraska. I just informed coach Pelini and we have let the assistant coaches know as well. Coach Pelini is a good man and has served the University well for seven years.

“As you know, I greatly respect and appreciate all that you do and mean to the University. You are at the center of our core mission of education and I understand that this decision impacts all of you.”

In his news conference, Eichorst expressed empathy with players.

“This isn’t a day of celebration for me,” Eichorst said. “We have a lot of really good young people that are in our program that are hurting — and I get that. My focus needs to be on that at this point and to be upfront with them, and to be there for them.

“Hopefully they understand and appreciate what they have here at Nebraska and the education they are getting here at Nebraska. I am fully aware of that. I played this game and I played championship-level-caliber football and I understand how much we love our coaches.”

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Players certainly made that known via Twitter.

Tweeted Gangwish:

“Coach Bo has done volumes for myself and my family during my time at the university. Thank you Coach, for the opportunity to grow here.”

Other reactions ranged from disbelief to anger.

Sophomore quarterback Tommy Armstrong and senior cornerback Josh Mitchell were among the most vehement in their reactions on Twitter.

From Armstrong:

“Biggest mistake you ever made.... Bo was the best coach I've ever had and I'll always appreciate the things you taught me.

And these string of tweets from Mitchell:

"Bout to lose a lot of recruits that were coming here to play for coach Bo"

"All you ppl that say u want better recruits & it's Bo's fault look how u tweet the athletes after games u dnt think recruits see that????"

"terrible decision just awful … 9 wins gets you fired? Thank you coach Bo for everything u did for me & this team over ur tenure."

Sophomore safety Nate Gerry simply tweeted Pelini is the reason players came to Nebraska, and followed with a picture of himself and Pelini, with the caption, “YOU DA MAN BO.”

And this tweet from sophomore tackle Vincent Valentine:

“I don't see how this decision will help the program. If anything, it'll make it worst honestly.”

Said sophomore receiver Jordan Westerkamp on Twitter:

“Unreal. Bo believed in me and I 100% believed in him. Can't believe this....”

​Reach the writer at 402-473-7436 or brosenthal@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraBR.


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