LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said Tuesday he doesn’t know if he’ll be disciplined for his profane rant about Cornhuskers fans two years ago, adding that he expects most will continue to support him.
An audio of Pelini’s tirade leaked to the sports website Deadspin has Big Red fans buzzing.
Pelini issued an apology in a statement Monday night and reiterated it during the Big Ten coaches’ teleconference on Tuesday. Chancellor Harvey Perlman has expressed disappointment in Pelini but declined to comment when asked if the coach would be disciplined. Athletic director Shawn Eichorst said he was “disheartened.”
Pelini said he has met with Eichorst and spoken on the phone with Perlman about the audio. He did not elaborate.
Pelini told reporters he was shocked by the release of the audio, though he indicated he knew a potentially damaging audio existed. Pelini said he might lose some fan support but that he was confident many would understand that his comments were made during what he thought was a private conversation before his radio show after the Huskers’ 34-27 win over Ohio State in October 2011.
“I think I’ve built up enough points with our fans over the last five years in how I’ve conducted myself, how I’ve run this program and what we’ve done with this program to earn some forgiveness for something that was made in a private setting,” Pelini said. “People will understand this isn’t how I feel about the fans. I’ve said it over and over.”
The Deadspin audio caught Pelini speaking off air with Husker Sports Network play-by-play man Greg Sharpe and associate athletic director for community relations Chris Anderson. Pelini criticized fans who left the stadium in the third quarter, when the Huskers trailed 27-6. Nebraska’s comeback was the biggest in program history.
Pelini also used profanity while ripping two Omaha World-Herald sports writers. Pelini had dressed down one of the writers in his postgame news conference that night for writing what he thought was an overly critical column about quarterback Taylor Martinez. In the days before the Ohio State game, Pelini faced withering criticism for the Huskers’ performance the week before in a 31-point loss at Wisconsin.
Pelini repeatedly uses expletives while talking about “fair-weather” fans and how the day is coming that he’ll be gone and that he wonders how the team will fare without him.
“I’ve said it over and over since I’ve been here that we have great fans, but I’m human like anybody else,” Pelini said. “You say things in an emotional moment under certain circumstances and like anybody else, you’re human, you make mistakes, you apologize for your mistakes and you move on. That’s all you can do in this situation.”
Pelini is 51-21 in six seasons at Nebraska, but he hasn’t won a conference title and the Huskers have had a run of lopsided losses on the national stage. His contract runs through the 2015 season. He’s being paid $2.975 million this year.
The Deadspin audio surfaced two days after the Huskers squandered a 21-3 lead and lost 41-21 to UCLA. The Huskers play FCS South Dakota State this week in Lincoln.
Pelini said he didn’t know who leaked the audio. He declined to comment on his thoughts about Deadspin’s source.
“I don’t want to go there … Everybody out there knows that obviously there was an agenda behind it and it’s unfortunate,” he said.
Pelini said there shouldn’t be a perception that he isn’t happy at Nebraska.
“I’ve had opportunities to leave Nebraska, so obviously I enjoy it here,” he said. “My family enjoys it here. I’ve had a good experience here. I’ve been very active in the community. I have great relationships here. I’ve had great support here, by the fans.”
Pelini said he’s never pursued another job since he’s been at Nebraska. “I’ve had people pursue me,” he said.