Bo Pelini screamed at quarterback Taylor Martinez on the sideline during the first half of Nebraska's 9-6 loss to Texas A&M earlier this year, but later declined comment on what prompted the incident.
Martinez re-injured his ankle earlier in the game and left the field for the locker room. Pelini's outburst was caught on camera and replayed countless times in the days that followed.
Martinez's father, Casey Martinez, talked to the Los Angeles Times, and shed some light on what happened that night and addressed rumors that swirled the next day of Martinez's desire to transfer after he missed a team workout.
Martinez had sustained a leg injury in the first quarter of that game, and Casey was concerned enough to place a cellphone call while his son was still in the locker room. Taylor took the call — a violation of team rules — to assure his father that he was OK. When word of that conversation got back to Pelini, the coach flipped.
Making matters worse, Taylor chose to skip a voluntary team workout the next day — such sessions are routinely attended by all key team personnel — after talking the situation over with Casey.
"Maybe [that] wasn't the politically correct thing to do," Casey now says.
Well, yes, obviously. Martinez and his father are extremely close; here's more on why their relationship is so tight.
That's a possible explanation for why Martinez picked up the phone rather than let it ring. That said, it's one thing to take the initiative to call your father during the game. It's another to not want to leave him wondering about your health by leaving a call unanswered.
It's not a perfect analogy, but you see parents come on to the field all the time when a player suffers a serious injury. This case is clearly different, but not unprecedented. Additionally, I doubt Martinez thought to himself, "I'm explicitly breaking team rules" when he picked up the phone. He also visited with his dad in the stands late in the loss to Texas after he had been benched in the second half.
A violation of team rules is a violation of team rules, so you can't blame Pelini for being angry for the incident against Texas A&M, but it's also hard to say answering the phone was inexcusable.
Martinez's high school coach for two seasons at Corona Centennial High, Matt Logan, says he reached out to the quarterback when the rumors that he planned to transfer started, but Martinez made it clear that he didn't quit.
There were plenty of rumors emanating from Lincoln on that weekend last month, and with this latest report, it appears at least a few of them were based in truth.
UPDATE (11:00 a.m.): The Times updated the story with a revised version of the circumstances surrounding the locker room phone call and Martinez's actions the following day.
"Martinez had sustained a leg injury in the first quarter of that game, and Casey was concerned enough that he tried to call members of the team's medical staff to check on his son's status. When no one picked up, he then tried Taylor, who returned the call — to assure his father he was OK — while still in the locker room. The call constituted a violation of team rules, and when word of that conversation got back to Pelini, the coach flipped.
Making matters worse, Taylor chose to skip a treatment session the next day after talking the situation over with Casey.
"Maybe [that] wasn't the politically correct thing to do," Casey now says."