Bo Pelini should be fired. In fact, he should already have been fired. On Sept. 16, audio was released of the University of Nebraska head coach insulting the team’s fans for leaving early after a huge comeback win over rival Ohio State University in 2011. Saying “F you” to the fans is pretty much the dumbest thing a coach could ever do. Fans are everything to a team. Without the fans, there is no team. Without the fans, Bo Pelini doesn’t have a healthy contract. And yet, he believes those are the people you should be screaming expletives to.
Oh, but he did it behind their backs when he thought no one was recording him. That makes it all better, right? Absolutely not. That makes it worse. Didn’t we all learn our lesson from “Mean Girls” about what happens when you insult people behind their backs? That’s right, I went there. The fact that Bo still has any support from Nebraska fans is mind-numbingly stupid.
First off, Nebraska hasn’t been good enough recently to warrant ignoring this issue. Bo Pelini is not Nick Saban or Urban Meyer. He isn’t even Les Miles. This recent issue in addition to last week’s beat down at the hands of UCLA should have led to the immediate dismissal of Pelini.
How can the university possibly still market this guy as its head coach? If I’m the manager of some store and I say “F you” to all the customers who come in the store, it’s safe to say I’m going to be fired. That’s pretty basic business logic. I would be making the store look bad just as Pelini is making Nebraska look bad.
Don’t get me wrong — everything Bo Pelini said was probably true. Most fans are fair weather fans. I’m a huge Red Sox fan, but even I couldn’t stand to watch them last year. I’ve fallen into a terrible habit of leaving early when I go to Fenway Park. It’s not right, but I want to beat the rush.
Fans are spoiled brats. It’s true. We want everything to go perfectly, and when it doesn’t, we leave. But we’ve earned that right. We pay for tickets. We pay for jerseys. Thus, we can be whatever kind of fan we want to be.
And Bo Pelini has every right to want to stick to the fans who left early. But you just can’t come out and say it. I worked at Dunkin’ Donuts over the summer after my freshman year. It was the worst job I could ever imagine. I wanted to say “F you” to just about every single person who walked in there. But I knew that I couldn’t. If I did, I would have deserved to get fired. And I was a damn good employee too. But that doesn’t matter. Bo Pelini screwed up and he deserves to lose his job because of it.
There is a reason why every athlete loves to say that he or she has the best fans in the world. In almost all cases, it’s not true, and the player knows it, but it’s just what you do. You always pamper the fans. You don’t say “F you” to them.
Sure, Pelini has come out and apologized, but it doesn’t matter. The damage is done. He can’t just say he loves the fans now. That shouldn’t work. He needs to go.
A head coach defines the personality of a football team. The New England Patriots are viewed as smart, pragmatic and business-like because Bill Belichick comes across as smart, pragmatic and business-like. The Patriots are also hated by just about everyone outside of New England because Bill does not come across as a likeable guy.
The San Francisco 49ers are viewed as tough and energetic because Jim Harbaugh is tough and energetic. The Detroit Lions are viewed as a bunch of immature dinks because Jim Schwartz is an immature dink. A team plays like the personality of its head coach.
So then how can Nebraska support Pelini to stay as its head coach? He comes out of this whole situation looking like an overzealous idiot. Is that really the image that you want portrayed on your football team?
Most importantly, why would a player ever want to go play for this guy? First off, he’s putting a ton of negative attention onto the football program. Secondly, after a huge win, he’s more focused on showing up the fans who left early. He should be focused on pleasing the fans who did stay and supporting his players who earned a hard-fought victory.
Nebraska needs to start fresh. The university needs to show that this kind of behavior is not acceptable by its head coach. It doesn’t matter that he didn’t think anyone would ever hear what he said. It doesn’t matter that he said it after the game in the heat of the moment. It doesn’t matter that he has apologized and said that he regrets his comments. It happened, and this idiot needs to go.