Bo Pelini safe, Nebraska AD assures

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Bo Pelini is safe at Nebraska, at least for now.

The embattled sixth-year coach received a statement of support Saturday from first-year athletic director Shawn Eichorst in the wake of a 38-17 loss to Iowa at Memorial Stadium to end the regular season.

"My approach has always been not to comment publicly about our coaches until their full seasons are complete, as I strongly believe it is unfair and counter to best practices," Eichorst said in the statement. "However, given the volume of unfounded speculation and conjecture about our head football coach, I want to reaffirm what I have said many times since I arrived at the University of Nebraska -- that I positively respect, appreciate and support our football student-athletes, coaches and staff, as we do everyone in the Husker family.

Eichorst had declined to comment on Pelini several times this year before the release of his statement Saturday.

"We very much look forward to our upcoming bowl game and Coach Pelini continuing to lead our program in the future," the statement said.

Pelini, 45, is 57-24 since his arrival at Nebraska in 2008. His teams won nine or 10 games in each of his first five seasons. Nebraska sits 8-4 as it awaits a bowl bid Dec. 8.

Pelini came under scrutiny in September with the release of a two-year-old audio tape in which he criticized Nebraska's fans and talked of leaving the school.

Speculation swirled this fall about his job as the Huskers struggled with fundamental errors in losing to UCLA, Minnesota and Michigan State. Again on Friday, Nebraska committed three turnovers and several errors on special teams that contributed to Iowa's first victory in Lincoln since 1943.

Pelini appeared to fuel the case against him Friday. He was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after nearly striking an official with his hat while arguing a pass-interference call in the third quarter. Then after the game, he cursed during his postgame news conference in discussing the penalties.

Pelini also responded defiantly when asked about his job status.

"They want to fire me, go ahead," he said Friday. "I believe in what I've done. I don't apologize for what I've done. I don't apologize to you. I don't apologize to anybody."

But on Saturday, Pelini did apologize in a statement that also thanked Eichorst for his support.

"I apologize for reacting emotionally yesterday and for showing frustration both with the game officials and the media," Pelini said in a statement. "I fully understand and respect their difficult jobs, and I regret any and all actions or words which may have shed a negative light on our program and university. Accountability is a core belief throughout our program, and as the head coach, I must set and maintain a high standard.

"Our football staff is hitting recruiting full throttle and looking forward to the upcoming bowl game. We are committed to working with Shawn and our entire department staff to continue to build this program and bring championships back to Nebraska."