The Inside Story on Coach Bo’s Latest Prank

By Randy York

A week ago today, Bo Pelini was looking for a unique way to tell his players that they were working so hard that he’d decided a Friday night movie was in order. The movie – Two Guns starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg– would be a worthy reward and replace last Friday night’s scheduled practice. To make the announcement even more fun and inspiring, Pelini wanted drama, impact and celebration. So he came up with a plan and plot to match his passion. Why not take his team down a notch before dramatically building it back up? Wouldn’t that make the movie even a bigger treat than it already would be?

“Bo wanted to surprise the players,” said Mike Nobler, Nebraska football’s video coordinator who worked with Pelini at Oklahoma before he joined Bo at Nebraska. Somehow, Pelini decided the best way to surprise his players was to fake out the whole team and then, at the end, say Got Ya!  The result is Bo’s latest prank, which went viral early Friday afternoon, locally, regionally, even nationally. It was Bo at his best, orchestrating a scenario that clued in only one player – Thad Randle, a 6-foot-1, 290-pound defensive tackle from North Shore High School in Galena Park, Texas. Randle’s a smart, no-nonsense young man who graduated earlier this month with a bachelor’s degree in ethnic studies.

You might question that statement when you watch the video, but it’s true. Ron Kellogg III became a Huskers.com video-shooting partner for this year’s Fan Day, and we asked him to shoot a team meeting as well, thinking it might be cause for celebration when a movie would replace that night’s practice. Only Bo, his coaches and Nobler were clued in on the real script. Kellogg knew something was going to happen but had no idea what it would be. Players also were unaware there were hidden cameras in the front of the room and in the back. 

There’s no need to break down the plot because the video stands on its own. Nobler thinks Pelini could not have picked a better player than Randle as his supporting actor. “It was all Bo’s idea, and it worked,” he said. “I mean, I was in on it and felt the tension myself.” In the script room, a.k.a. Bo’s office, Nobler asked Bo a simple question: “How long do you want me to wait before I hit the screen with the Got Ya!’” he asked Bo, who replied: “You’ll kind of know when to do it. Just give the rest of the players enough time to get really nervous.”

Watch the video, and you’ll understand why it works and why it has drawn more than 135,000 views in its first 10 hours. The real inside story is this: The phone that rang in Randle’s backpack in the video was Bo’s cell phone, and the call was made by Nobler, who pressed the button on his own phone sitting behind the lectern where he usually stands in team meetings while running slides or showing video. The phone that Bo pulled out of Randle’s bag at the peak of his anger and hammered away on was an old phone of his that he no longer used. It’s intriguing, if not compelling to see a room full of players sit in stunned silence. When they realize they’ve been hoodwinked by their own head coach and a trusted leader, jubilation erupts and exultation reigns. Kenny Bell goes as gaga as anyone, racing around the team’s auditorium with a victory lap so animated he looks like he just struck Olympic gold. Watch the video all the way through. Near the end, you’ll see the calmest person in the room – Taylor Martinez, still sitting by himself in the front row while everyone else is standing up, slapping shoulders, raising their voices, laughing, celebrating. T-Magic’s smile says it all, and it makes you wonder who could possibly enjoy tension and pressure as much as he does, even when it’s manufactured and has an ironic twist at the end.

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