Take it or leave it? I'll take it

I have to say that sometimes a press conference can be fun. I actually can't believe I just typed that. But within the mundane which is the job to cover them, sometimes you find things you actually like to see and in this case, hear. Leave it to Bo and players to say and do nothing to quell the honeymoon which started the second Pelini got the job as the head coach.

Following the press conference where head coach Bo Pelini addressed the media to talk about the up-coming Spring practices, Bo did a little bit more radio, perhaps some TV, but once again stopped in the hallway to talk to reporters, all of whom were at the original presser not even a half-hour before, asking many of the same questions.

Sometimes there's just stuff, whether it's just dotting the "I"s or crossing the "T"s for a story, some things you as a reporter, would just as soon ask without it being live to the whole world.

And Bo certainly doesn't need to accommodate us. It's not like we were getting that treatment under the old regime. It's just Bo being Bo, doing what Bo does, and part of that is seeing if you needed anything else.

As media, you have to like that.

But it's an answer to a question which was posed to him in that hallway, that took an already healthy respect for the guy and turned it into some sort of admiration, and trust me, in this business, you don't feel that very often.

I guess maybe, and speaking for myself, I have taken the already desensitized nature of this business and thrown in a lot of cynicism to boot. I don't find the positive side to things very much, and I use the word "realistic" to justify many of those beliefs.

And after talking to an experienced coach, you don't find yourself shaken from that point of view, and honestly, it's because the answers you get then are the answers you got last week, last month and last year.

It's just that the "clever" ones can frame it differently to make it seem like they aren't insulting your intelligence.

Back to the question, though, it was an innocent enough question which pertained to practices and why they are closed off to the media outside of a couple of periods where photographers and TV come in and do their thing.

The actual practices themselves wouldn't be available to watch by the media.

Frankly, I am glad for it, because you think about sitting there watching practice, I know that the die-hard Husker fan might think that a dream come true, but when there were brief times we were able to watch practices early in Bill Callahan's tenure, once the two-hour session was done, you just kept thinking that, that was two hours of your life you weren't ever going to get back.

When former head coach Bill Callahan did decide that he was going to close practices, the reasons were varied, often given in such a way that you came off feeling like there was an actual reason in there somewhere, but even after listening to it four or five times over, you can't quite figure out what it was.

With Pelini, there weren't any question marks.

"Honestly, you guys just seeing scrimmages and stuff like that, I don't like the media making their determinations on who's doing what, and that's the part I don't like," Pelini said. "I want the message to get out and I want to talk to the media about things, but I want to make sure that the correct things are getting out there.

"I don't want some guy making his determination of where our football team is, and what we are doing, what we aren't doing, who is playing well and who is not playing well – based on somebody's perception of what a guy is being asked to do or might not be asked to do.

"I just want to make sure the information that is getting out is correct."

That is a not-so-veiled, but very respectful way of saying that if you don't know what in the hell you are looking at, I don't want you writing about what it looks like, because you just don't know.

That might be taken as an insult by some, but I took it as something completely different. It was a compliment to us in that coach Pelini didn't try to say smooth-sounding things, which weren't really true, just so we could feel better about ourselves.

That's not Bo, and like players will say and have said, even today, I think many of us would agree that being put in your place or being reminded where your place is, isn't always such a bad thing, as long as the origin of that is born of honesty, knowledge and respect.

Basically, we know that he's a good coach. And we know that he believes he is as well. He could easily come across as arrogant or whatever, but he comes across with a certain respect, but always with the knowledge that gives his message some worth.

That's why players like senior offensive lineman Matt Slauson, who has shed almost 25 pounds over the off-season, because he had to, knows Bo's word is law, but this is one lawman they are more than glad to accommodate. "If a guy is just yelling to yell, it gets old and pretty soon you really don't pay attention to it anymore, but when coach Pelini talks, and the way he talks to you, he gets your attention," he said. "And if he yells, you know he's doing it for a reason and when he says something, you better do it.

"He said that I had to lose the weight or I wouldn't even be playing. I believed him and here I am."

There's the bad side to that, at least for players, some who have battled for years to earn the top spot and last year, it finally became all theirs. After going through all that, only to realize everyone is going back to scratch, there's a certain sense of loss and nervousness. Even Slauson, who played in every game last year, started most, and you could almost pick the position, he's one guy who feels very strongly that if he isn't cutting it out there, he's going to get his playing time cut in return.

"I know some people think that a coach says that, because that's what they are supposed to say, and I guess you can tell sometimes if you think that's what happening," he said. "But I'd be surprised if anyone thought coach Pelini was just saying that to say it. I know I didn't think so then and I definitely don't think so now. If he says you better do it, you just better do it, so you don't have to find out how serious he is."

That's not fear talking when Slauson regales us with some of the more interesting moments he's had since the new staff arrived. What he calls that is pure-respect. Call it the E.F. Hutton thing that when Bo talks, everyone listens and when Bo says do something, everyone doesn't ask who's going to be first.

And probably the thing most admirable about the new head coach is that during this press conference, out in the hallway and from what we have gathered, every day with his players, he doesn't change, he doesn't waiver and the message he gave from the beginning is the exact same message they are getting now. And it's with no apologies given as to the way in which it's relayed or the demands which he might put upon you that could seem overwhelming at the time.

Slauson talked about that as well, saying of Pelini that when someone is like he is, you don't do things for him, because you are afraid of what he will do or say, you are more afraid of letting him down.

For a coach who hasn't even been officially on campus for much more than a couple months, that kind of impression has to go a long ways. It did with me, as in far fewer words than what I have used here to describe just one aspect of his character, he'll leave you without a doubt in your mind.

It's who he is, take it or leave it, and I have yet to run into one single person who asked to be shown the door.

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