LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska coach Bo Pelini says he has a clean bill of health and that he left a game over the weekend because he and team doctors were concerned a case of heartburn and his sense of feeling disoriented might be signs of a serious medical problem.
Pelini said a series of tests were negative.
“I’m as healthy as can be,” he told reporters Monday. “You guys are going to be stuck with me for a while.”
The 44-year-old Pelini, wearing khaki cargo shorts and a red polo, was in good spirits and cracked jokes while he addressed reporters for a half-hour. He expressed appreciation for well wishes he received — and said he was not ordered to cut back on his workload.
“One thing I don’t want is anybody to make this out to be like I’m over-stressed,” he said. “It was an isolated incident and there were a number of factors that probably contributed to it. I am healthy and there are no issues there whatsoever. Otherwise, to be honest with you, I wouldn’t be sitting here today.”
Pelini returned to work Sunday to watch film of Nebraska’s 42-13 win over Arkansas State and to begin preparing for this week’s game against Idaho State. He said he planned to get in a workout later Monday. He said he typically runs four miles a day.
Pelini said he started feeling ill an hour or so before Saturday’s game. The heartburn, he said, began in his stomach and worked its way up. He said he became dizzy and disoriented as the first half progressed.
“To be honest with you,” he said, “it alarmed me a little bit.”
He stopped short of saying he feared he was having a heart attack.
“I’ve been around the profession long enough and really just in life… I’ve heard, I think, that was a symptom… It started with an upset stomach. Then I felt like heartburn and burning,” he said. “That’s something they’ve associated with … that’s one of the symptoms that made the doctors kind of take caution.”
Pelini said his father, Anthony, had heart disease. The elder Pelini died in 2008 after an extended illness.
Bo Pelini said twice that he did not have chest pains on Saturday.
“It’s hard to explain what I felt,” he said. “I knew this: I didn’t feel good.”
A team doctor checked Pelini’s pulse on the sidelines. At halftime, the medical staff told him he needed to get to a hospital, and he left the stadium in an ambulance.
“They didn’t like the way a couple of the tests (in the locker room) showed up, and at that point they decided they had to take the cautious approach, which was the right approach, which was to make sure there was nothing going on,” he said.
Defensive coordinator John Papuchis and offensive coordinator Tim Beck split the head-coaching duties the second half. Pelini said he was released from the hospital late Saturday afternoon and spent the evening at home relaxing.
Pelini is the fourth Big Ten coach to have a health scare in recent seasons.
Ohio State’s Urban Meyer left Florida after the 2010 season because of stress. He complained of chest pains, difficulty sleeping and weight loss.
Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio was hospitalized in 2010 because of a mild heart attack. He had surgery to put a stent in a blocked blood vessel leading to the heart. Minnesota’s Jerry Kill had seizures last season.