Bo Pelini and the “What Have You Done for Me Lately” Mantra

Sep 30, 2013

As of September 25, 2013, Bo Pelini holds a 52-21 mark as head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, which includes a 3-3 record in bowl games. He’s also coming off an appearance in the 2012 Big Ten Championship game, where his Cornhuskers fell to Wisconsin, missing out on a chance to play in the prestigious Rose Bowl.

A 52-21 record is favorable in most cases, but keep in mind that this is Nebraska, a school that fired Frank Solich, a former Nebraska player, after going 58-18 from 1998 to 2003. And now it appears that Pelini is falling out of favor with Nebraska fans, Nebraska alumni and possibly even the Nebraska administration.

The evidence? As if a blowout home loss to UCLA earlier this season wasn’t enough of a slap in the face, audio of a profanity-laced tirade recently surfaced from two years ago, right after the Huskers came from behind at home to top Ohio State. The audio, which was recorded unknowingly to Pelini prior to a radio interview immediately following that game, reveals him ripping the fans as “fair weather” and calling out a reporter in the media – all with various f-bombs sprinkled throughout.

It’s no coincidence that this audio was released days after a bad home loss to UCLA, not to mention days after Pelini engaged in a war of words with former Nebraska standout Tommy Frazier over the coaching and leadership of the program. The leaked tape only furthered the Nebraska fan’s ire.

But when you come to think of it, what big-time college football coach hasn’t ever wanted to call out a fair weather fan base, the media or hasn’t done so behind closed doors? Just because it was Pelini that got exposed doesn’t mean it isn’t happening in other sports programs.

Pelini’s situation is a great example of the “what have you done for me lately” mantra that’s currently defining all athletes and coaches. People forget about the past successes and the past accomplishments and are focused on the now. They’re focused on winning a championship this year, not what you’ve done for them last year or the year before that. There’s an urgency to win – and win now – especially at a big time college football program like Nebraska that hasn’t tasted a chance for a national championship in 12 years.

In reality, Pelini’s biggest fault might just be that he’s not legendary national championship winning Nebraska coach Tom Osborne. But then again, who is? That’s handicapping the situation right from the get-go if those are the expectations. Keep in mind that the Great Plains region isn’t necessarily a recruiting hotbed for football players, and that’s a further handicapper in Pelini’s situation. A 52-21 record doesn’t look so bad now, does it?

But remember, this is the same school that fired Frank Solich for going 58-18, coming off a 9-3 regular season. So what has Pelini done for Cornhusker nation lately? Back-to-back Capital One bowl losses, zero conference titles and no appearances in a national championship or BCS bowl game – not to mention a media feud with Tommy Frazier and a leaked f-bomb-laced audio tape calling out the fans.

Pelini has some amends to make if he wants to stay Nebraska’s head football coach. But in the “what have you done for me lately” sports world of today, winning solves everything.