Friday, January 06, 2012

Stereotypes, not Reality Driving Reaction to Pelini in the Capital One Bowl

In the hours after the Capital One Bowl, I dismissed the handful of "there goes Bo Pelini again" criticism. I was more concerned about the penalties and the mistakes during the game, and in our group (which included Pelini critics), nobody said anything about Pelini's discussion with the referees. As it was, we were all upset about the way the Huskers played.

But by Tuesday night, it was getting difficult to ignore those comments...especially after listening to sports talk radio.  It's obvious that a segment of the Husker fan base was extremely upset over Pelini's actions.  My question is still:  is it quantity (a large number of fans) or volume (a few fans being exceptionally loud about it)?  I haven't seen anybody say they changed their opinions about Pelini, so I lean a little more to the loudness of the Pelini critics.

Let's make one thing clear:  Nebraska did not play well in the Capital One Bowl against South Carolina.  They made a lot of mistakes, and took a lot of really stupid sloppy penalties.  And everybody -coaches and players alike, need to be accountable for that.

But in all the criticism, one serious factual error exists in nearly ALL of the criticism of Bo Pelini.  It's cause and effect.  And in this case, Pelini's critics are absolutely DEAD wrong about it.  Bo Pelini's outburst came LONG AFTER Nebraska made the vast majority of mistakes.  Pelini's actions were an effect of Nebraska's breakdowns in the game, not the cause.

My associate over at CornNation, Jon Johnston, wrote an excellent article this morning detailing just that...and how certain members of the Nebraska media have been trolling fans to incite a reaction.  Why?  It's not because they hate the Huskers.  That's not the case.  They are merely trying to get attention.  They are the media - getting people riled up gets them to listen to their shows, read their articles, and react.

Matt Schick, formerly of KETV-Channel 7 and now a sports talk host on KOZN-AM 1620, started it off prior to halftime.  He criticized Pelini's halftime interview with ESPN's Quint Kessenich on Twitter even before it happened.
Please, Quint Kessenich, ask Bo Pelini what happened on that last play.
And it was all downhill from there.  There's no evidence that Pelini was riled up until the fourth quarter, long after Nebraska drew most of the flags. But never let Omaha's media,already burned multiple times in recent weeks for being lazy (Pelini to Penn State, Lady Gaga at the bowl game, etc.),  let go of an easy storyline.

We look for something to blame, and people hear Bo Pelini yelled at the refs, and jump on.  In this case, pile on.

Does Pelini get angry?  Yep.  A lot of coaches do.  Did you see Wisconsin's Bo Ryan after the referees waived off a game-tying basket at the buzzer this week?  How abou Frank Martin at Kansas State?

Pelini earned his reputation by his own actions.  That being said, Pelini has been much more controlled this season.  The outburst against the referees was really the first of it's kind this season.  Pelini deserved criticism after the Texas A&M game last year, and he's learned from it.  But against South Carolina, Pelini didn't really lose control.  Angry, yes. Out of control?  I didn't see it.

And Pelini's outburst had nothing to do with Nebraska's loss.  It was simple failure to execute.  Should Pelini be held accountable for his team's poor execution?  Yes, he should.  If his players aren't executing what he's been teaching, he needs to (a) find a different way to teach it or (b) get players in who can play fundamentally sound football.  That's his job.  And really, that's what the criticism needs to be this week.

Not about "Pelini yelling at the referees."  But that's what some members of the media have chosen to focus on this week.  Is that what we have to look forward for the next nine months?  I hope not.

No comments: