LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Hours after Bo Pelini fired back at criticism from one of the Nebraska program’s all-time greats, he had to apologize for a profane rant in which he criticized “fair-weather” Cornhuskers fans.
The sports website Deadspin.com on Monday posted the 2-year-old audio of the Cornhuskers’ coach going off on fans and newspaper reporters after a game.
Pelini’s problematic Monday came on the heels of yet another brutal loss for the Huskers. UCLA wiped out an 18-point deficit in Lincoln and beat Nebraska 41-21 on Saturday.
The Deadspin audio caught Pelini speaking off air with Husker Sports Network play-by-play man Greg Sharpe before his postgame radio interview following Nebraska’s win over Ohio State in October 2011. Pelini had been criticized by fans and media in the days leading to the Ohio State game for the Huskers’ performance the week before in a 31-point loss at Wisconsin.
In the audio, Pelini repeatedly uses an expletive to refer to what he calls “fair-weather” fans.
“I want to sincerely apologize for my comments from two years ago which became public today,” Pelini said in a statement released by the school Monday night. “I take full responsibility for these comments. They were spoken in a private room following the Ohio State game. I was venting following a series of emotional events which led to this moment. That being said, these comments are in no way indicative of my true feelings. I love it here in Nebraska and feel fortunate to be associated with such a great University and fan base. I again apologize to anyone whom I have offended.”
Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman said he was disappointed by the comments.
“We are taking some time to consider it and what impact it would have on the university,” Perlman said.
Perlman declined to answer whether Pelini was in danger of losing his job.
Athletic director Shawn Eichorst said he talked to Pelini about the rant.
“I am disheartened and disappointed by the 2011 comments published today attributed to Coach Pelini about our dedicated and passionate fans and supporters,” Eichorst said in a statement. “I have spoken with Chancellor Perlman and I have addressed the situation with Bo and expressed our deep concern.”
Pelini has been coach of the Huskers since 2008. He is 51-21 at Nebraska, but has yet to win a conference title at a program that for decades was a perennial national contender.
Even before the audio of his temper tantrum became public, Pelini had made a misstep that likely had many Nebraska fans upset.
During his weekly news conference, Pelini responded to criticism from former Huskers quarterback Tommie Frazier, saying if Frazier doesn’t like how he’s running the program, he doesn’t need his support.
Frazier, who led the Huskers’ unbeaten national championship teams in 1994 and ’95, ripped the direction of the program on Twitter hours after the loss to UCLA.
Frazier called for the firings of Pelini’s defensive assistants and bemoaned what he saw as a lack of adjustments made in the game. He had been honored at halftime for his selection this year to the College Football Hall of Fame.
Pelini said he heard about the tweet but had not read it. The sixth-year coach said the staff and administration are doing all they can to win games and help the players.
“Since I came back here, I’ve embraced the former players, and if he feels like that, then so be it. We don’t need him. That’s a shame,” Pelini said. “Until you’ve sat in this seat and done it, anybody can have an opinion; anyone can do that. It’s easy to point fingers and stand outside and throw stones, so I just take it for what it is.”
Frazier did not respond to messages from The Associated Press but issued a response via Twitter on Monday afternoon: “He’s right, he doesn’t need me. I’m not the answer but he needs someone to help define success for this program. Nebraska fans deserve more.”
The Huskers led the Bruins 21-3 in the second quarter. UCLA scored touchdowns on its first four possessions of the second half and totaled more than 500 yards of offense.
Nebraska allowed more than 600 yards in a win over Wyoming in the opener. That was after defensive meltdowns in a 70-31 loss to Wisconsin in last year’s Big Ten championship game and in a 45-31 bowl loss to Georgia.
In his Saturday tweet, Frazier wrote: “It’s time to get rid of the defensive play caller, the Dc, lb dl and db coaches. … Time for change!”
After his playing career ended, Frazier was an assistant coach at Baylor and later the head coach at Doane College in Crete, Neb. He was 3-17 in two years at Doane. He now works in Omaha for a health foundation.