KILLIAN: Pelini’s rant may haunt the rest of his career

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Nebraska football head coach Bo Pelini unexpectedly found himself in the hot seat this week.

Monday, Deadspin.com released audio of the coach profanely insulting fans for leaving in the third quarter of the Cornhusker’s 2011 comeback win over Ohio State.

There was speculation throughout the week regarding if and how Pelini might be disciplined. The answer came Wednesday in a statement by Nebraska officials Harvey Perlman and Shawn Eichorst.

The pair stated that the administration was willing to “put the matter to rest” and reinforced the idea that the university’s “student-athletes, coaches and staff deserve all of our support.”

Pelini’s apology Tuesday was deemed sincere enough and appeared to serve as adequate damage control for the situation. But completely dismissing the issue might not be that simple for Pelini in the long run.

He can erase a lot of concern by winning, but should the 2-1 Cornhuskers struggle throughout the rest of the season, his rant would only strengthen any case against him as head coach.

Deadspin claimed the actual publishing of the rant came as a result of their “tipster’s” disgruntlement at the Cornhusker’s 41-21 loss to UCLA Saturday. Should more losses pile up, who knows what responses, leaks or even slander may follow.

In his apology, Pelini stated he is “human like anyone else” and emphasized that the comments were made in an “emotional moment” in a “private setting.”

Like anyone else, however, he must face the fact that modern media has made what was once considered “off the record” accessible to the masses.

Many of us have the opportunity to say things we may not mean, but the far-reaching capabilities of media make it difficult to keep even the smallest of Freudian slips from going unnoticed.

In addition, words that were spoken yesterday, two years ago or 10 years ago can be under the same level of scrutiny as if they were spoken today.

Pelini said he thinks Nebraska fans will “understand the situation and circumstances” regarding the rant and that he’s “built enough points with fans over the last five years.”

The Cornhuskers have experienced a revival under Pelini after former coach Bill Callahan’s dismal 27-22 tenure. He’s led Nebraska to a 51-21 record since taking over in 2008, but the program has lost its last three bowl games.

In an age where college football coaches are held to increasingly higher standards based on team performance, Pelini’s emotional outburst may continue to haunt him.

His actions will now be viewed under a larger microscope as he faces the uphill battle of impressing critics with his demeanor on and off the football field.

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