Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Media Forgets "It's Not About You" in Pelini Coverage

Ever since this weekend's 31-10 loss to Texas Tech, I've been somewhat dismayed by the media's obsession with Bo Pelini's curt answer to a rather inane question. The most flagrant example is the Omaha World-Herald's headline writer, who came up with the "Boorish Bo" tagline today to Lee Barfknecht's article about Pelini's comments during and after Saturday's game. It's not that the media is wrong as much as they don't realize that, in the grand scheme of things, Pelini's dismissal of a dumb question isn't the story. The story from Saturday was the dismal play of the Husker offense, not the postgame presser.

I liked Dirk Chatelain's columns last week questioning offensive coordinator Shawn Watson's playcalling in the Missouri game. It was a tough, but fair examination into the situation from an outsider's perspective. And Chatelain's questions about what Pelini wants to see from his offense was also a good question, evoking the following response from the head coach:
“First thing I want to see is … us being able to run the football consistently and knock somebody off the football."
But I'm still struggling with trying to understand the followup question where he asked if Nebraska tried to do that against Texas Tech. One look at the statistics would have answered that question. It was a dumb question begging for the answer he got:
“You watched the game, what do you think?”
In all the uproar over this answer, nobody in the media as of yet has suggested what Pelini should have answered instead. And that's because there really isn't an answer to this question. He could have been truthful and said "No". He could have been Bill Callahan and started rambling on about something else to change the subject. But neither answer would have shed any light into the situation.

The way the question was worded seemed to ask Pelini to call out either his offensive coordinator (for the playcalls and formations) or his quarterback (audibling out of those situations)...when the question really revolves around "how do you get to that type of offense?" Is it because of scheme? Is it the depth situation at running back? Is it because of execution?

There's an old adage that if you "ask a stupid question, you get a stupid answer." Bo Pelini doesn't deal in a lot of coachspeak; he'll be vague about injuries ("he's fine") but that's about it. He's usually direct in his comments, and like in this situation, almost to a fault. His predecessor used to ramble on about whatever it was he wanted to talk about, never even trying to answer the question at hand. You don't get that with Pelini, and that frankness comes at a price when the media drops the ball in the interview room.

That's not Bo Pelini's fault. That's the media's fault. Pelini has enough problems figuring out what's wrong with the offense. If the media wants a better answer, ask a better question rather waste ink and airtime griping about the curt answer. Chances are that with Bo Pelini, if you ask the better question, you'll get the answer you wanted in the end. Like Pelini said today
"I answer things pretty directly. I'm very black and white."

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