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Winging It 14:
THE ROUGH DRAFT
12.02.003

[NOTE: While rummaging through the South Stadium trash bins in search of the remnants of Nebraska's football program on Monday, our crack Pond staff came upon an early draft of Athletic Director Steve Pederson's press conference comments from Sunday. Needless to say, the version we found bore heavy editing marks. The passages that didn't make the final speech are signified ((in the following manner)). -- RCL]

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Good afternoon ((to all you chump hacks. I liked you a lot better when you just wrote whatever I told you)) to all of our friends in the media. I'd like to get this conference started.

The purpose of today's ((carefully choreographed tap-dance)) press conference is really two-fold. First, I want to address the ((complete and utter public-relations meltdown)) situation with regard to our football coaching staff and secondly I want to address the way that we ((say that we)) do business in the athletic department. In this particular case, ((because I got caught talking out of school)) they are very closely linked.

When it comes to ((professional hits like the one I administered last night)) discussions of coaching changes, I ((would really, really, really like you to)) believe that my obligations are clear to every ((subsidized semipro)) student-athlete, every member of our athletic staff ((except the one who leaked this story, of course)), every coach and every one of our ((Boosters of Substance)) fans to make sure that it is handled in an appropriate fashion. I know that I was given a ((fat pay raise and an Escalade with sweet 22-inch rims)) huge trust when I became the athletic director at the University of Nebraska nearly a year ago, and I would promise to ((snow-job the average schmoe into thinking he's a part of the action, even though I'm operating on a level the rubes in Crab Orchard and Cozad can't even begin to comprehend)) make decisions that would ensure this program was successful for years and years to come.

I also know that ((talking, and talking, and talking about my)) integrity is one of the core values of Nebraska. So ((from now on)) I do not ((plan to)) discuss potential coaching changes with boosters, donors or fans publicly or privately ahead of any announcement being made. I have too much ((riding on that $40 million palace of ours)) respect for all the parties involved to have ((any more of those discussions)) that discussion. The ((last)) only person with whom I would discuss the hiring or ((in this case)) firing of coaches is my chancellor ((who, I must say, is still every bit the lawyer, don't you think? Wow, what a warm-up act)).

I understand that these actions must be in the best interest of our program and that I am accountable to our ((Boosters of Substance)) fans. Today I have ((thrown ol' Shorty under a train)) asked Frank Solich to step down as the head coach at Nebraska, effective immediately ((if not sooner)).

I have asked ((Master Sgt.)) Bo Pelini to serve as interim head coach ((because he scares the living hell out of the media, and the last thing we need are a bunch of people nosing around and asking questions)). The search process for a new ((Savior-of-the-Month)) head coach begins immediately ((and will probably conclude with me just naming Bo as the new head coach, but I want to give off the impression today that we're searching high and low for a big name)).

This decision was not an easy one ((because I'm still not sure Monte Kiffin will take the job if offered)), and I'm certain with a 9-3 record, there will be questions. But this was not a decision, as I've said all along, that will be determined by wins and losses ((well, OK, maybe the losses)). It was a decision based on the overall direction of our program, ((the fact that we were actually 2-3 this year against "real" football teams)) and where I see our program headed in the next five to 10 ((months)) years. That ultimately is how I arrived at the decision that our ((cash cow)) program needed ((to stave off the end of the sellout streak for a couple more years)) new leadership. I refuse to ((stop talking through my teeth while I'm grinning)) let this program gravitate to mediocrity. We will not ((stop talking about our integrity until perception actually becomes reality)) surrender the Big 12 conference to Oklahoma and Texas.

I made this decision ((weeks ago, actually)) now at the conclusion of the regular season in part because ((one local paper got uppity all of a sudden and decided that waiting for an athletic department press release wasn't going to cut it)) of the media firestorm that surrounded the speculation and really left me no option but to ((fire Frank about 24 hours earlier than I actually planned to)) address it prior to the bowl game. To leave our athletes and coaches guessing and wondering on speculation ((like I did all week while hiding behind my self-invoked policy)) serves no purpose and I think could damage our program ((even worse than a short-side option on third-and-six would)). It's time for this program and our state to ((prepare to give me more money)) come together.

I commend Frank Solich for his years ((as the running backs coach, and that's about it)) of service to the University of Nebraska. He has ((screwed)) served this program well in various roles and ((was in way over his head the last six years)) certainly had a solid win-loss record ((if this place were some dirtwater MAC or SWAC or WAC school)). He deserves the admiration and support from all of us who support Nebraska football ((when the team wins)), and I ((would like to take this opportunity to tell him that he needs to have all of his personal crap out of Bo's new office by noon tomorrow)) thank him for his contributions ((to the demise of this program)).

From the day I arrived, I have given Frank ((dirty looks)) my full support. The day after I took the job, we sat in my office for nearly two hours where I pledged my (("))support((")) and ((financial)) interest in making this program ((buckets and buckets and did I say buckets of cash)) successful. As I traveled across the state, I ((was astounded at how many poor people we have living here)) talked to every Nebraska fan about rallying behind this coach and this team to make sure that we ((didn't play in Shreveport again)) had a successful season. And ((like moths to a flame)) in typical Nebraska fashion, our fans ((mindlessly ate all that merchandising hokum up)) did just that. The annoucement of plans for our new facilities ((weren't made until I had a bunch of big-money donors in the bag, but I like the po' folk to think they're actually helping to contribute to it, anyway)) are an indication of the support and commitment to a successful football program at the University of Nebraska.

As I have said, I've asked ((Brig. Gen.)) Bo Pelini to serve as interim head coach. I think Nebraska fans ((are suckers who would believe the sky was green if I said so)) have been impressed with the transformation in the defense ((during the team's nine wins, at least)) since Bo has arrived and the ((profane lecture he gve Bill Snyder)) help he has received from the assistants on his side. He certainly has the ((most to gain from all this, except for maybe his brother Carl)) intensity and focus and drive for excellence that will make sure our players have ((as Frank would say)) a tremendous experience at the bowl game. In meeting with our assistant coaches this morning, I ((suggested they get their resumes updated, particularly Turner)) asked them to assure our players have a good experience in their final game ((Hell, I may even take a few grand out of the Husker Nation Championship Drive fund and spring for Sea World tickets for the whole team. Not every coach can get a Shamu show as part of his buyout package, you know)).

Before I ((start evading your questions with the skill and precision of a world-class gymnast)) conclude, let me ((throw out a few more banal catch-phrases that will wind up as signature lines on various Internet message boards)) make one thing clear. This athletic department is not run by ((a very large)) committee. It is not influenced by anybody ((who I can't cover for)) from the outside, and ((together)) we will make the decisions that we ((know)) ((think)) ((hope)) ((pray)) believe are in the long-term interest of our ((subsidized semipros)) student-athletes and ((our Boosters of Substance)) fans. ((We)) I made this decision because ((we)) I believe that it is in the long-term best interest of Nebraska football, ((but)) and that's ((not)) the only reason that ((we)) I made that decision.

((Now if you'll please excuse me, I need to visit the restroom. My pants appear to be on fire.))

==STEVE==
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