It was time to face the music. After a somewhat insanely called game from the head coach, media members awaited to get the next juicy soundbyte for the local news. National news members waited for an opportunity to skewer what used to be a football power. Fans? Well, fans were trying to figure out how they felt. Everyone knew implicitly that this was going to be a brutal five minutes, but no one knew just how far it could go. Everything was on the table. It wasn't enough that Iowa had just walked right over the home team, it was also that this seemed like Pelini's last stand. How would he react? Was he told he had to win or else? What would happen?
"I don't coach to make a case. You guys have chosen to make a story of it all year. It's impacted our football team. It's hurt our football team. Let's call a spade a spade. If they want to fire me, go ahead. I believe in what I've done. I don't apologize for what I've done. I don't apologize for anybody, myself or this staff. Our record since I've been here speaks for itself. This program's heading in a good direction. If you choose not to think so, that's your prerogative. All I know is that myself, the staff, the people associated with this program since I've been here can look at themselves in the mirror and feel good about what they've done."
That statement would turn into a bold challenge to the still-getting-his-feet-wet Athletic Director, Shawn Eichorst. Was this the year that too many bad things happened? With the tape of Pelini berating fan conduct - to the tune of many expletives - still ringing in the air, and the reality of another four-loss team on the docket despite the sad truth that it was a team that had oft overachieved more than underachieved, the end was near.
That is, until it wasn't.
Eichorst would show a vote of confidence in Bo, Pelini and Co. would go on to beat Georgia in the bowl game, and the second stint of rehabbing Bo Pelini's image would commence. Last year, I wrote a lot about how Bo Pelini as a person is probably one of the kinder people out there. He cares about his family. He cares about his players. Oh, and he cares a lot about good causes. To this day, Team Jack is one of the coolest things that Nebraska has ever been a part of, and because a head coach cared enough to keep things going, pediatric brain cancer is something this state puts a lot of money into. But all of that is fodder when tapes surface about the fans. All of that is almost literally meaningless when the standard of winning championships is traded for wild inconsistency. At least, that's what it seems like.
This is where the cats take over. Bo has a sense of humor. Sure, he's not Spurrier, just waiting for his chance to take swipes at everything, and he's not Big Game Bob, just shooting his mouth off at every chance a microphone gets in front of him. However, you gotta admit that he at least likes to have some fun. The twitter-cat/Faux Pelini moment during the National Championship game took off like no one could have imagined. I totally believe he knew that Nebraska fans would latch on and maybe give him a little slack, but everyone had an opinion. It was another feather in his cap, and as the offseason wore on, many of last year's transgressions were forgotten. After all, it's all about football, right?
And that's where I find myself interested more than ever in the process. I firmly believe Bo Pelini can be a successful coach. I also firmly stand by my statements last year that say I'm not sure if Bo Pelini is the right coach for Nebraska. I'm not wanting to run him off with pitchforks, but sometimes success - rather, peak success - can be reached without making changes. That could also be for Pelini, who seems to excel at scheme and motivation when there is enough talent to go around. But that's something we'll probably examine more later this season.
For now, it's time to move forward... again. Bo Pelini has to shake off the LLLL stigma. I mean, if that's the basement, there are no complaints. If that's the ceiling? Well that gets a lot more difficult to discuss. All he can do is get his team prepared for another run through the challenging B1G. Perhaps this will be the year that he breaks through. I am rooting for the guy, if anything because it would be nice to have some positive vibes out of Lincoln for a while, but I'll probably be cautious. No matter what happens, it will be an interesting year for the head coach.