Husker players discuss boycott
BY BRIAN ROSENTHAL / Lincoln Journal Star
A players-only meeting Monday afternoon ended with members of the Nebraska football team uncertain of how to handle their frustrations over the school's two-week search for a head coach.
Two players, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the team discussed possible ways of voicing their concerns that interim head coach
Bo Pelini hasn't yet been named a permanent replacement.
Among the options was a boycott -- of either practices, the Dec. 29 Alamo Bowl game, or both. Players also discussed the possiblity of holding their own press conference or writing an open letter to media outlets to express their concerns.
But when players weren't unanimous on any decisions, the meeting ended abruptly, and players "stormed out of the room amid a flurry of expletives," according to one player, who described the hour-long session as "very, very tense."
Several other players declined comment about the meeting, which took place at South Stadium.
"We met, and we have some concerns that we're just going to keep private right now," freshman linebacker Bo Ruud said.
Nebraska athletic director Steve Pederson fired Frank Solich on Nov. 29 and named Pelini, the team's first-year defensive coordinator, as interim head coach. Many Huskers are growing impatient that Pelini hasn't been named the permanent successor, a player said.
"We feel like we're completely left in the dark," that player said. "There've been so many wounds opened, and everyone wants those wounds to close by hiring Coach Pelini."
Pelini made a brief appearance at the players meeting, reminding them the importance of being unified, a player said. Pelini was unavailable for comment Monday night.
Said sports information director Chris Anderson: "It's our policy to not comment on private team meetings."
Meanwhile, some recruits who officially visited Nebraska over the weekend were impressed with Pelini and seemed hopeful he'd be named head coach.
Joe Manning, one of five recruits from Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, Fla., said he's developed a strong relationship with Pelini.
If Pelini was hired permanently?
"That would increase the chances for all five of us (to commit)," Manning said.
None of the five, however, has done that yet.
"They told us not to commit without a head coach ... I think that's how it should be done," Manning said. "They're a respectful program, and they're going to do things respectful."
Manning, a 6-foot, 175-pound cornerback, also has official visits scheduled for Clemson, Tennessee and Florida State. He said he'll likely wait until signing day in February before he makes a decision.
Other players from Tallahassee who visited Lincoln were linebackers Rodney Gallon and Matt Owens and offensive linemen Danny Muy and Calvin Darity.
Darity, the nation's top-rankedoffensive guard according to Rivals.com, said he was impressed with Nebraska's tradition and the overall atmosphere in Lincoln. He has four more visits to take and said he hasn't yet ranked his schools of preference.
"I'm still going to be watching (Nebraska)and see what happens later on, but that's really all I can do," said Darity, noting he had no opinion on the Huskers' coaching situation. "I just don't know much about it."
What advice did the coaching staff give him?
"They were just unsure," he said. "That's all they could tell me."
Scott McPherson, Muy's stepfather, spoke highly of his family's visit to Lincoln, and of Pelini.
"Coach Pelini has been a rock of stability in a sea of craziness in this whole recruiting process," McPherson said. "He's been upfront with us. He's told us the truth. He's never wavered in his belief in Danny.
"Danny and Coach Pelini were close before this weekend, and they got much closer after this weekend."
McPherson wouldn't say whether Muy wanted to commit.
"I'd rather not talk about that right now," he said. "We're waiting for a decision to be made out of Lincoln before we make a decision."
If Pelini were named coach?
"That would be very, very pleasant news if that were to happen," he said.
Chris Owens, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound quarterback from Thousand Oaks, Calif., also visited.
"If Coach Pelini is announced as head coach, that's a place I'd definitely consider,"Owens said. "But you can't really commit to a place with no head coach."
Owens' high school team
runs the spread offense. He threw for 1,717 yards and seven touchdowns in 2003.
"It sounds like they're looking to open up their offense and throw more," Owens said. "That's why they're recruiting me."