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Archive for Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Pelini attempts to tone down temper

Coach admits sideline behavior hinders image of program

November 5, 2008

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— Bo Pelini knows he needs to cool it.

The first-year Nebraska coach acknowledged his volatile sideline demeanor is casting a negative light on himself and the program.

Pelini has drawn unwanted attention for his tirades against officials, assistant coaches and players. He said Tuesday at his weekly news conference that he knew his temper could hurt the university's image and work against the Cornhuskers in recruiting, especially with videos of him seething and screaming readily available on YouTube.

A montage of Pelini blowups was posted on that Web site Monday and had generated more than 1,000 hits by Tuesday.

"Perception is reality, so that's something I've got to fix," Pelini said. "I understand that. I'm a highly emotional guy. I've got to be careful."

Pelini, whose bickering with officials earned him an unsportsmanlike conduct late in a loss to Virginia Tech, had downplayed his sideline conduct before this week. But he said he realized he had a problem when a couple lip-reading family members pointed out their disapproval of his behavior in last Saturday's 62-28 loss at Oklahoma.

"I regret that," said Pelini, married with three young children. "There's a difference between being animated and using some words you wish you didn't use."

TV cameras showed Pelini consoling quarterback Joe Ganz after an interception return on Nebraska's first play from scrimmage gave OU a two-touchdown lead. But as things unraveled - the Huskers trailed, 28-0, six minutes in - Pelini's anger revved up.

He was shown repeatedly yelling into his headset, badgering officials and quickly grabbing the facemask of a player who had just been ejected.

"I'm not perfect by any means and I understand that," Pelini said. "What I try to do is evaluate what's happening with me and try to learn from it.

"My job is to coach and represent this university in a particular way all the time, and if I ever fall short, that's something that hurts me personally. And it's something I have to fix."

The Big 12 supervisor of officials, Walt Anderson, has received no complaints about Pelini's conduct from any referee or official, spokesman Bob Burda said.

Pelini said he initiated a discussion about his behavior with athletic director Tom Osborne this week. Osborne, known for his stoic persona during a career that netted 255 wins and three national titles in 25 years, was supportive and told him it's imperative to comport himself the right way, Pelini said.

Osborne declined an interview request Tuesday. He said after the Sept. 27 Virginia Tech game that any discussion between him and Pelini on the matter would remain private.

"Coach Osborne knows the type of person I am, the kind of heart I have, and he also understands how emotional I am," Pelini said. "From my standpoint, I've got to be smarter."

Pelini said there was no connection between his behavior and the rash of 17 personal fouls called on the Huskers through nine games.

"I will say this is not an undisciplined football team in how it acts on or off the football field," he said.

His players don't seem to have a problem with Pelini's temperament.

"Every coach has his way of getting his views across to a player on the sideline," defensive end Zach Potter said. "He's a get-in-your-face kind of guy. I don't think he's going to change because some of us might not like it or the media is coming after him saying you shouldn't get into players' faces like that."

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