Update: Nebraska coach Bo Pelini has issued a statement that the reports of an interview with Miami are false. Read the story here.
* * *
Say it ain't so, Bo.
Say anything, for that matter.
When Bo Pelini addresses the news media Friday night after Nebraska football practice, it promises to be the most anticipated media opportunity of the season.
Are you “N,'' Bo? Or taking your talents to South Beach?
Speculation that the third-year Husker football coach was in the mix for the Miami Hurricanes' job blazed like a wildfire across Husker Nation on Thursday. And Pelini seemed content to let it rage.
Reached late Wednesday, Pelini offered a non-denial denial, saying he would not “respond to rumors and innuendos.'' Did that mean it was crazy talk? Or that Bo wasn't crazy about talking about it?
Or is this Pelini's response to Chancellor Harvey Perlman's public spanking?
Moreover, is this Pelini's version of Tom Osborne and Colorado?
All good questions. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Thursday that Pelini had spoken to Miami Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt about the job. The paper reported that Pelini was “in the mix.''
This could be as simple as Pelini talking to an old acquaintance, Hocutt, about the job. Schools are going to approach Pelini. It never hurts to ask. A coach might say yes.
Would Bo leave for Miami? You never say never. But I say no.
Pelini makes more than $2 million at NU. The former Hurricane coach, Randy Shannon, was at $1.5 million. Sun-Sentinel columnist Dave Hyde wrote that former NFL coach Jon Gruden asked UM for a $3.4 million salary and $1 million for his brother, Jay, to become offensive coordinator. Hyde said the school had no problem with either. But that's Gruden money.
At some point, we're all about the money. But Pelini is not about money. He would ask himself, could he win there? Could he be happy there?
If you get it going, it should be easier to win at Miami, just by virtue of the lackluster ACC compared with the stout Big Ten schedule coming. But do you have to recruit loads of athletes who, should we say, are a bit rough around the edges? Would Bo do that? Shannon cleaned up UM's image but didn't win. Was that the choir boys' fault? Or Shannon's?
But would Pelini get any satisfaction out of being lost in the crowd behind the Dolphins and LeBron James? Last year Miami averaged 54,000 fans in a 75,000-seat stadium. If you're not winning national titles in Miami, you're invisible.
Nebraska going into the Big Ten is a better job. Pelini and his family are great fits in Midwestern-values Nebraska. He doesn't leave a job unfinished. Those are reasons Bo says no.
But is he making a point in the process?
Two sources in the NU athletic department say Pelini felt betrayed by Perlman's admonishment of the coach's behavior at Texas A&M on Nov. 20. Perlman called Pelini's outburst “unfortunate'' and added “we'll have to address it'' with him.
I'm not sure those words are worth leaving a great job over. On the other hand, why did Perlman have to go public with it? Does the Kansas State chancellor chastise hoops coach Frank Martin every time he turns into an alien during games? Did Creighton's former president, the Rev. John Schlegel, say anything after Dana Altman chased the officials off the court in that NIT game?
Maybe the public backlash on that hurt Pelini, as well. Maybe the criticism from losing the Big 12 title game — most of it directed at offensive coordinator Shawn Watson — stung, too. The Nebraska fish bowl can get a little tight.
Call it tough love. Pelini practices it with his players — as he did that night at A&M. He scolds but then he hugs. He has your back. Nebraska fans can do that, too. The majority have Pelini's back. They scold and they hug, too.
That's part of the job here. It's a great job. Because everybody cares.
Pelini can ask his boss all about it. In 1978, Osborne flirted with CU, traveled to Boulder with wife Nancy and almost took the job. But in the end, he realized the thing that can drive a coach batty about Nebraska is the very thing that makes it one of the greatest places on earth to coach football. A thing called passion.
I think Pelini will come to realize that if he hasn't already.
It would just be nice to hear something.
Contact the writer: