Bo Pelini has issues: anger issues, media issues, victim-complex issues. And, apparently, heartlessness issues.
Prior to Nebraska's appearance in this year's Holiday Bowl in San Diego, both Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian and Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini had lunch aboard the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, dining with a hall full of sailors. And at no time were the cheers or excitement higher than when Pelini announced that one lucky sailor would get to call a play for Nebraska during the Holiday Bowl.
You can imagine how excited Petty Officer 3d Class Morgan Ryan was when his name was chosen to watch the game from the sidelines and call the play.
Ryan didn't spend a lot of time devising a special play, although a couple of his buddies suggested the "Fumble-rooski."
Instead of focusing on a play he might call, Ryan studied "Washington's defense, looking for a weakness." And while he didn't tell any of his friends back home about his swag, he did call his mom in Minden to make sure she was going to watch the game.
The only problem? Bo Pelini never let Ryan call the play. And if it had turned out that in his manic raging Pelini simply forgotten, we all would have shaken our heads knowingly.
But it's worse than that:
Unfortunately for Ryan, he never got the opportunity. Nor, as it turns out, did Pelini ever intend to honor his commitment.
"It was a joke, ma'am," the sour head coach barked at me in his Holiday Bowl postgame news conference.
That was news to Ryan, who told me this week that no one told him he had been punked by Pelini. In fact, Ryan said numerous Nebraska assistant coaches and some of the players had talked with him after the luncheon. "A lot of players, maybe 15, asked me what play I would call," Ryan said.
I asked Ryan what his reaction would be if he had found out Pelini had no intention of letting him call a play?
"I would understand," Ryan reasoned. "It's a bowl game. It's not just a regular game."
When I informed Ryan that Pelini told me the whole thing was a joke, his face fell.
He sat in front of me, looking a bit stunned. He displayed no anger, just sat there, staring into space.
Ladies and gentlemen, Bo Pelini!