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Bo Pelini

Bo Pelini's Disturbing Use Of That Other C-Word -- Core Values

Core values.

Definition of above term: the fundamental beliefs of a person, or organization, which guide behavior and action.

In his final meeting with Nebraska football players, fired coach Bo Pelini used the phrase eight times. (Audio of the recorded meeting from Dec. 2 is available here, along with the transcript.) The 47-year-old invoked the expression to emphasize what he sees as the difference between his "core values" (as in, he has some) and those of Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst (as in, Eichorst doesn't).

Pelini explained to his former players that Eichorst is "a total p---y. I mean, he is. He's a total c--t." Later in the speech, the new Youngstown State coach explained that Eichorst didn't "have the balls to go out there and support me" and that he said as much to the athletic director, telling him, "'At a place like this, you gotta be a grown-ass f---ing man to lead something.'"

Kind of sounds as if one of Pelini's "core values" is degrading women.

But, you know, Pelini also used the hollow phrase "at the end of the day" 16 times and "fellas" 18 times, so one could write the whole thing off as humorous -- in a clichéd, college football, kind of way. After all, we've all seen comedian Jason Sudeikis, in khakis and visor, portraying a hard-nosed American football coach in his skits for NBC Sports. (And if you haven't, get on that.)

But here's the thing: Pelini isn't some outlier. Brushing his words aside by saying, "Oh, that's just Bo," doesn't feel quite right. After all, he's using words and phrases you would probably hear walking past a good number of practice fields in this country. Pelini just happens to be caught on tape, for all to hear, instead of spitting sexist phrases while tucked away in the depths of the football team room. The casual misogyny he employs in this speech? Pretty standard in the sports world, and especially in football, which values strength and toughness above most other attributes.

Football is a violent game, so of course coaches need a certain narrative to motivate players to commit to such a grueling sport. Inspiring speeches and all-out effort are awesome. And who doesn't love watching a running back, knocked down dozens of times, finally barrel over a defender for a touchdown? There is nothing inherently sexist about a hard tackle. Pointing out misogyny isn't a threat to the game -- a game plenty of women love, too. But you know what does need to stop? Correlating failure and weakness (whatever "weakness" means) to women.

If you break it down, Pelini is conveying a simple message to his former players: the worst thing to be is a woman, or to be like a woman. And hiding behind the excuse, "C'mon, 'p---y' is just something guys say!" is to willfully ignore the pretty obvious implication of the word, which is that the most embarrassing thing a young man can be called is a female body part. That, "at the end of the day," women are the lowest possible ... anything.

Being intentional with words is the same as being intentional with a fade route. A good coach would never let a player get away with imprecise footwork. Well, why should language be any different? If we have bought into the idea that words can motivate young players, we must also admit they shape perspectives.

Put another way: Language isn't meaningless; it builds, and reveals, core values.

(And it's irrelevant whether Pelini is intentionally sexist or just ignorant; that doesn't change how the sentiment might influence his players.)

Maybe this would be easier to disregard if we weren't just weeks removed from a domestic violence crisis in the NFL. Realistically, why are we surprised that some NFL players have complicated relationships with women (and men, for that matter), when they're absorbing this kind of language as 18-year-olds?

The Nebraska administration issued a scathing response to its former coach, to whom it will pay $7.6 million over the next four years -- a fortune, just to go away. "We are extremely disappointed, but it only reaffirms the decision that he should no longer be a leader of young men at Nebraska. His habitual use of inappropriate language, and his personal and professional attacks on administrators are antithetical to the values of the university. His behavior is consistent with a pattern of unprofessional, disrespectful behavior directed by Mr. Pelini toward the passionate fans of Nebraska, employees of the university and, most concerning, our student-athletes. This behavior is not tolersated at the University of Nebraska and, among many other concerns, played a role in his dismissal."

Pelini has been coaching young men since 1991, at places such as Iowa, LSU and Oklahoma.

And now he will continue coaching young men at Youngstown State, where he'll presumably try to instill his core values.

So, what are those core values, exactly?

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Karen, your loveliness goes on and on..


I think it is funny after 2-3 years of trying to get some decent discussions on there it took the  firing of Bo to heat it up. There is plenty of discussions regarding remolding a garage, fixing up a classing car and sharing our favorite recipes, but seldom has there been any real nitty gritty conversations. I believe when SE interviewed/was hired as AD he was told to prepare an exit strategy from Bo. Hence, the reason Bo only got a small raise last year and a one-year extension as well as the raises were limited for the assistant coaches. I propose had Bo showed some professionalism and sportsmanship early in his tenure he would still be the Head Coach at NU. From the first melt leading to his asinine tone at most of his press conferences I start getting that feeling, the same feeling when you see someone about to run their fingers down a chalk board. I am young when it comes to Husker fans....(40 something), I didn't suffer through the years before Coach Devaney but what I do understand about Husker football, the program and Husker fans is you win with class and when you lose you show even more class. I don't remember when the US against the world.....We against them started but I resent Bo for starting this mentality. What I remember about the Husker program is how the entire state embraces the program. I remember as a young lad seen the signs in the stadium. Everyone knew a starter, walk on from your home or down the road or the town next to you  that was playing for the Huskers. Bo make it his program......made  most fans feel dirty for being upset when a team had 9 turnovers losing to an ole Big 8 foe. Example, reporter: “Bo what did you think about the turnovers?” Bo “I don’t know you watched the game, what do you think about the turnovers?”

     Try living outside the state of Nebraska and trying to defend Bo on Monday mornings. I grew tired of it and why should I? Bo never appreciated the fans....I heard it myself he told us we could kiss his ass. I have tried to process what type of person Bo is...I can only equate him to Arrogant asshole in the bar on Saturday Night that could care less about anyone else in the bar. The bully the guy that uses profanities constantly to the point  you either have to say something because the look on your wife tells you something has to be done or put your tail between your legs and leave your favorite watering hole. That it, I’m sure many Husker fans felt bullied by Bo. That's were I was, I had decided since I don't contribute to the Program financially, nothing more than a loyal fan that either I put up with the blowouts and embarrassments from the actions of our Head Coach. My only choice was to stop watching Husker football and I was prepared to do so.    

     I have to admit I had lost the passion of getting to sit down on a Saturday afternoon to watch Husker football but now there is hope again. I don't know if Riley is a good coach, a good hire.....but he is the next coach. I have enjoyed listening to him he even made me laugh. When was the last time Bo made you laugh other than his outrages antics on the field? I will say this I was a little underwhelmed by the hire but as you look at it more it makes sense. I don't know what goes on within the inner circles of the program but I have to wonder if Bo fractured a fan base more so then the average fan understands. If there were big time supporters that were starting to close up their pocket books. I’m willing to bet there will be no more antics in a effort to repair Riley's more cats at the Spring game. I don't know if Riley will win a CC but at this point my expectations have lowered I would be happy with no more embarrassing moments brought to you by Bo     

Nish,  I am with you on this.  Personally, I don't care if Riley ever wins a CC unless he becomes like Bo and blames everyone he can think of for his personal shortfalls.  Tom did us no favors in hiring that guy and then when he allowed the inappropriate behavior to continue after the Texas A & M game, I knew it was time for Tom to move on too.  It is too bad so much bad blood was allowed to boil over this selection mistake, at least the new guy could see what needed to be done and  took the appropriate action.  As time passes, I expect more ugliness to surface concerning Bo's poor conduct over the years.  Tom kept some of it from the fans for awhile, but eventually it came out. It will take a long time for these memories to be forgotten.  It will be talked about for years just like going for two in 1983 is discussed.  :)


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