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September 18, 2013

Big Ten coaches taking lesson from Pelini’s touchy comments

NORMAN — If you’re a college football coach and you want to vent, there’s a short list of places where you can do it safely.

Screw it up, Big Ten coaches said Tuesday, the comments can come back to haunt you.

If coaches and players needed any reminder, look no farther than Nebraska. Deadspin.com this week posted a two-year-old recording of Cornhuskers’ coach Bo Pelini profanely complaining about fans and news media. Pelini apologized and said he thought his complaints were being made during a private conversation.

His colleagues said little, if anything, is private in their world.

“It’s kind of like I tell our players: Unless you’re in a closet, you better assume somebody’s recording you, filming you or both,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “I guess the moral of the story is you better wait till you get home, and hope your wife’s on your side — and that’s probably a 50-50.”

Some of the 12 Big Ten coaches said they were uncomfortable discussing the subject, and Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio jokingly drove the point home, pointing out the very public place where big-time college football coaches live their lives.

“Probably now would not be the time to discuss that, since I have about 150 people listening to me,” he said.

Pelini told reporters his comments were the product of high emotion, the kind that makes him human.

“If everybody’s personal thoughts in a frustrating moment or an emotional moment got out there, we’d all be in trouble,” he said.

Dantonio said that voicing frustrations is a necessity, even if it’s not a high-pressure, high-scrutiny profession like coaching.

“Everybody, in anything that they do, they meet a point of frustration,” the Spartans coach said. “You’ve got to be able to let that go and vent, and everybody does that differently.”

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