World-Herald reporter Anna Gronewold surveyed Husker fans by Memorial Stadium for reaction to the leaked Bo Pelini audiotape. Below is a sampling of what the fans had to say.
"I would give him a hug!" Angela Nelson's sign prompted high fives and cheers from tailgaters. pic.twitter.com/XCmy8Y7KbG— Anna Gronewold (@annagronewold) September 21, 2013
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Bob McDowell of Lincoln, who sits behind a table of Husker memorabilia for sale, said he's seen coaches and athletic directors come and go. He said the outrage about Pelini's 2011 remarks might be unfounded.
"I go back to [the] Bob Devaney days," McDowell said. "I remember when people in Omaha wanted to fire Bob Devaney. Then Tom kept losing those games to Oklahoma, and people thought, 'He can't win the big one.' But how lucky we've been in Nebraska to have people like Osborne and Devaney!"
McDowell said tradition should inspire Pelini to follow past coaches' leadership styles. If he had the opportunity, that's what he'd tell Pelini.
"I'd say congratulations," McDowell said. "I'm glad Tom Osborne knew about it and talked to you. You couldn't ask for a more classy man to give you advice. Just follow it to the 'T.'"
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Husker fans still BO-lieve! During the head coach's first appearance on HuskerVision, the student section erupted in cheers.
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Amid a rare cluster of blue and red T-shirts, Husker fans Britt Marsh, of Wyoming, and Michael Houk, who lives in Sioux Falls, S.D., discussed Pelini's future with the NU program.
Houk, a dentist and part-time clinical instructor at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said he's not offended by Pelini's comments, but added extraordinary leadership, in his mind, rarely involves swearing.
"My father was a coach at South Dakota State," he said. "Greatest man I've ever known. He and Coach Osborne coached the same way. They never berated or embarrassed the player in front of fans. And they never used profanity. You don't need profanity."
Marsh, a dental student at the UNL, said he thinks Pelini's job security has nothing to do with the leaked recording.
"There's not a college football coach, or any coach in the nation, that hasn't said those things at some point," Marsh said. "It's about whether we win a national championship."
"We won't know until Michigan," he said.
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Dear Bo: What 5 fans would say in a conversation with the coach
» "Thanks for what you've done with the program. The stadium does tend to clear out early. I could see how that could be frustrating."
» "I'd like to think I'd say, 'Hey what's up with the defense, Bo?'" But I know I'd get nervous and say, 'Hello, Mr. Pelini. It's really nice to meet you. Would you like a stick of Big Red gum?'"
» "I'd tell him I still support him. I was never angry. I've definitely thought those things. He's allowed to think those things. Then, I'd see if I could give him a hug."
» "I'd ask, 'Have you applied to any other jobs in the past two years? Have you tried to leave?' That would show fans if he is really dedicated to the program."
» "I would say nothing about the incident at all. I'd be upset, too. If you call yourself a fan and you leave halfway through, you're not a fan."
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Last week's sign said “Ruin the Bruins.” This week's message, coming loud and clear from Section 27, is “We support our team and coaches.”
Louise Stopak, wearing beads and a bedazzled “N” on her cheek, said she has been a Husker fan since the Devaney days.
“This is to show we are not fair-weather fans,” Stopak said.
Stopak said she thinks very few fans are actually upset by Pelini's remarks. In her opinion, the national attention from the two-year-old recording is serving to rally support around the coach and the team.
“There's always going to be a few people complaining, saying they'll never come back, blah blah blah,” Stopak said. “Give him time. He started very young. He'll learn.”
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