Bo Pelini not worried about job

Updated: November 30, 2013, 11:45 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Bo Pelini says he hasn't been told if he'll return for a seventh season as Nebraska's head coach and that he isn't spending any time worrying about it.

"If they want to fire me, go ahead," Pelini told reporters after the Cornhuskers' 38-17 loss to Iowa on Friday to finish the regular season 8-4. "I believe in what I've done. I don't apologize to you. I don't apologize to anybody, myself or this staff. My record, our record since I've been here, speaks for itself. And this program is heading in a good direction.

"You choose not to think so, that's your prerogative. All I know is myself, this staff, the people who have been associated with this program since I've been here can look themselves in the mirror and feel good about what they've done."

Though Pelini is 57-24 at Nebraska, his performance has been heavily scrutinized in the wake of bad losses to UCLA and Minnesota.

The question is whether first-year athletic director Shawn Eichorst believes Pelini is moving the program in the right direction.

Pelini, whose contract runs through February 28, 2018, has more than $15 million in future salary on the books. But his contract states that if the university fires him without cause, it would owe him $150,000 a month for the rest of his term.

If he is fired in December, there would be 50 months remaining on the deal ($7.5 million). Then tack on another $150,000 for a bowl game bonus, whether he coaches in it or not.

The number would match the biggest buyout from last season of Auburn's Gene Chizik, who was also paid $7.5 million.

Bell I would play for Bo Pelini against Satan himself and the demons of the world. I love Coach Pelini.

-- Nebraska receiver Kenny Bell

As the Huskers' football program hasn't lived up to lofty expectations over the last decade, buyouts have become commonplace in Lincoln.

In 2003, head football coach Frank Solich was bought out for $800,000 and, in 2007, the school paid $3 million and $2 million to buy out football coach Bill Callahan and athletic director Steve Pederson, respectively.

Pelini's contract is advantageous to the coach when considering the buyouts of some others, including that of Texas coach Mack Brown, who is owed $40 million in future salary, but would only receive a buyout of $2.75 million if he were fired after this season.

The Huskers haven't won a conference championship since 1999, and they were eliminated from the Big Ten Legends Division race two weeks ago.

In addition to a run of blowout losses dating to 2011, Pelini came under fire in September after an audio of his profane tirade against Nebraska fans went public.

Eichorst, who has a policy of not commenting on a coach while his or her team is in season, has given no hint about how he's leaning.

Pelini's volatile sideline antics, which have been kept under wraps most of the season, were back in full force Friday. He was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct in the third quarter after he protested a pass-interference call on linebacker Zaire Anderson.

Pelini said the official flagged him because he got too close to him, but made it clear -- with the help of an expletive -- he thought it was a bad call.

"I've never seen anything like that before," Pelini said. "I've done a lot worse than that, and I saw (Iowa coach) Kirk Ferentz over on the other side acting a lot worse than I act. I didn't see a flag come out on him. The bottom line is they knew they blew the call. They blew it. They blew that call over there on that third down. And everybody in the stadium knew it. They didn't man up enough to pick that flag up."

The Huskers (5-3 Big Ten) won their fewest regular-season games since 2008, Pelini's first year, and lost three home games for the first time since 2007 under Bill Callahan.

Pelini's team battled through injuries to six offensive linemen, and fourth-year starting quarterback Taylor Martinez was limited to four games because of a mysterious foot injury. The Huskers started third-stringer Ron Kellogg III against Iowa because of an ankle injury to Tommy Armstrong Jr. The Huskers also struggled with turnovers and shoddy special-teams play.

Pelini declined to answer directly when asked if he had made a case to keep his job.

"You guys have chose to make a story of it all year," he said. "It's impacted our football team. It's hurt our football team."

Junior receiver Kenny Bell said he and his teammates support Pelini's return.

"I would play for Bo Pelini against Satan himself and the demons of the world," he said. "I love Coach Pelini."

Information from ESPN.com business reporter Darren Rovell and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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