I call it Pelini's passion gone way overboard. I think he recognizes he goes too far at times. It's a reputation he's earned. What isn't earned is the perception that the way he acts on the sideline is the way he acts off the field. People wonder why anybody would want to play for a coach who acts like that.
I don't know Bo Pelini. I haven't met the guy outside the football field, so I don't have any first-hand knowledge of how he acts away from the field. I do know one thing, and that is that by and large, his players love Bo Pelini. Almost without exception, every player past and present has glowing things to say about their relationship with Pelini. (I'm sure there are a few exceptions, nobody can please everybody.) But for the most part, Pelini is highly regarded by the people he has dealt with over the years.
Gregg Doyel's column on Pelini gave people another example of that "other" Pelini that many people either aren't aware of, or just ignore. It's an outstanding look at the two sides to the Nebraska football coach. I thought it was a great article when I first read it, then I went through and started clicking on the links. And suddenly came across this line:
And here come the stories this spring, just as they were written last spring, and Pelini doesn't know what to make of it all.
Does this really change the perception of Bo Pelini? It does a little, but the truth is, what matters more are getting Nebraska to fewer than four losses in a season. Quite a few coaches blow a gasket on the sideline, but everybody, barring some sort of physical assault, forgives it as long as the coach wins. Bo Pelini's record is good, but at a place like Nebraska, nine or ten wins each and every season just isn't quite good enough. At 100 schools, Pelini's record would be good enough. But not at Nebraska. I get that.
I also know that Pelini has put together great defenses, and had teams that ave had great offenses. I'm not ready to pull the plug on Pelini; I still think that's premature. Some coaches simply need time. Certainly Pete Carroll wasn't a successful coach right off the bat. Neither was Nick Saban. So I'm willing to be patient with a coach like Pelini. We all know that Nebraska can do far worse than Pelini.
One thing that I find very curious is how much more vilified Pelini is for actions far less egregious than other coaches. Take Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery, who regularly blows his stack on the sideline, and typically gets a free pass on it.
In fact, after McCaffery bumped a ref earlier this season and had to be physcially restrained, Iowa fans insisted that Pelini's hat swipe was somehow worse.
The thing is...both are bad. (This year's #frantrum was worse, mind you.) I don't know about McCaffery, but I do know this about Pelini, he's getting better at his sideline demeanor (Iowa game aside), and I believe he's sincere in wanting it to be better. And I think he's getting better as a coach.
And if articles like this help calm some of the misperceptions about Pelini's temper, it's a good thing.