Big 12 Championship - Oklahoma v Nebraska

Nebraska still ‘reflecting’ on Pelini ‘situation’


In the wake of the release of a two-year-old, profanity-laced tirade directed at Nebraska fans, Bo Pelini has come under a tremendous amount of friendly fire, with some even laughably suggesting that he should be canned for the content of a piece audio caught in a private moment.

Pelini apologized in a statement released through the university Monday evening, while statements released by both the chancellor and athletic director suggested some type of punitive measures could be forthcoming.  A day later, no determination has been made as to what if any punishment the head coach could be facing.

Confronted by the Omaha World-Herald following his annual state-of-the-university address, chancellor Harvey Perlman sidestepped questions about Pelini and the growing brouhaha.

“I’m not going to talk about football today,” Perlman told the paper, adding, “We’re disappointed and we are reflecting on the situation.”

When asked how long said reflection will take, Perlman stated, “Until we decide not to.”

Meanwhile, on the Big Ten coaches’ teleconference, a contrite Pelini confronted every question lobbed at him by the media head-on.  Pelini, in his sixth season with the Cornhuskers, again lauded the fan base in Lincoln, but did allow that “I’m human like anyone else. You say things in an emotional moment under certain circumstances.”

The audio, apparently recorded without Pelini’s knowledge, came in the immediate aftermath of an Oct. 2011 game against Ohio State in which Nebraska came back from a three-touchdown deficit.  Pelini’s raunchy ire was directed at fans who had left the stadium prior to the comeback.

“I think our fans would understand the situation, the circumstances regarding this,” Pelini said on the Big Ten coaches’ teleconference. “I might lose some, I don’t know, but I think that I’ve built enough points with our fans over the last five years in how I’ve conducted myself, how I’ve run this program and what we’ve done with this program … to earn some forgiveness for something that, like I said, was made in a private setting.

“I think people will understand this isn’t representative of how I feel.”

Again, it’s laughable to suggest Pelini should be dismissed over this episode.  Fire him for failing to return the football program to the national stage to which they had become accustomed, not for dropping myriad f-bombs on what the coach considered to be “f****** fair-weather” fans.

USC’s Max Tuerk already questionable for Notre Dame game

TUCSON, AZ - OCTOBER 11:  Center Max Tuerk #75 of the USC Trojans prepares to snap the football during the college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on October 11, 2014 in Tucson, Arizona.  The Trojans defeatred the Wildcats 28-26.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

As if the questions about the head coach’s future aren’t enough, now USC could have a rather significant issue in the middle of its offensive line to deal with as well.

Early in the first quarter of what would turn out to be an embarrassing loss to Washington Thursday night, Max Tuerk sustained a sprained knee. Upon further examination, it was determined that the veteran center would be unable to return to the game.

Not only that, Tuerk, who was wearing a brace on his right knee following the loss, is already labeled as questionable for what it in every sense of the phrase a must-win game for Steve Sarkisian against Notre Dame eight days from now.

With Tuerk sidelined for the remainder of the game, he was replaced by Toa Lobendahn. It’s unclear which direction the Trojans would go if Tuerk is a no-go this weekend, although Khaliel Rodgers, who had been dealing with a personal issue, has been Tuerk’s backup.

Tuerk has started 38 games in his Trojan career — 18 at center, 14 at left guard, five at left tackle, one at right tackle. Lobendahn started all 13 games as a true freshman last season, the first eight at left guard and then five at right tackle.

Was Washington loss the beginning of the end of the Steve Sarkisian era at USC?

Steve Sarkisian

Steve Sarkisian’s win totals in his six previous seasons are both a positive and a negative.

On one hand, he resurrected a moribund Washington program that went 0-12 under Ty Willingham in 2008 and took them to four consecutive bowl games from 2010-2013. He won nine games his last year in Seattle, then led a talented-yet-thin USC team to a nine-win season and AP No. 20 finish in 2014.

Those are good accomplishments. But the flip side of the argument is Sarkisian has never won double-digit games in a season, something that’s a necessity to keep one’s job at USC. The Trojans’ 17-12 loss to Washington last night — at home, no less — means the road to 10 wins and a Pac-12 title will be awfully difficult.

And worse yet, there are plenty of arguments to be made Sarkisian doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt and a little more time in Los Angeles to turn things around (#SarkAfterDark, his drunken rant at a booster event, certainly doesn’t help). The reaction from national media to last night’s loss looked like this:

Mandel, in his column, argued USC is right where it was two years ago with Lane Kiffin as its coach. And there’s this embarrassing thought, that looks more and more like a truth, for Pat Haden:

This one, however, was the most damning by far for many reasons, most notably that it came at the hands of Sarkisian’s old team. The sense among many Washington fans nearly two years ago was that the Huskies managed to upgrade coaches when the school lured Chris Petersen from Boise State upon Sarkisian’s departure to USC.

They were right.

USA Today’s Dan Wolken similarly wrote that USC needs to drop Sarkisian and bring in Chip Kelly from the Philadelphia Eagles.

This is the state of USC, and it may not get better. The Trojans start a brutal three-game stretch next Saturday at Notre Dame in primetime, then welcome Utah to Los Angeles the next week. A Halloween trip to Berkeley to face Jared Goff and Cal finishes it up. There’s a very real chance USC, for all its talent and all its hype, limps into November with a 4-4 or 3-5 record.

Sarkisian will have to engineer and sustain a major turnaround in these coming weeks, otherwise he’ll give Haden all the ammo he needs to unceremoniously jettison him after two years.