Marijuana has been decriminalized, if you haven’t noticed. I walk down the street in Venice, a beachfront neighborhood in Los Angeles, and someone is smoking weed with no fear of arrest. It’s legal to smoke recreationally in Denver or Seattle or anywhere else within the borders of Colorado and Washington. Snoop Dogg, or Lion, doesn’t leave the house without a joint in hand.
But Florida Atlantic football coach Carl Pelini, brother of embattled Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, was forced to resign this week along with the team’s defensive coordinator after university officials said both admitted to using drugs — marijuana, reportedly — at a party that wasn’t connected in any way to the school, its campus, its students or its players.
I get it. I do agree with it. When a coach takes on a collegiate role of teaching young people, he cannot be seen getting high at a social event in the area. There are parents to visit on recruiting trips, rules and laws to follow in the state of Florida, and Pelini and Pete Rekstis should have been canned. But when I leave the office after writing this, I will walk down Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice, and, inevitably, I’ll smell the scent of marijuana courtesy of someone else in the vicinity.
Just saying, we’re still divided in America on marijuana tolerance.
“We hold ourselves to a standard here,” said Patrick Chun, athletic director at the Boca Raton-based school, per the Associated Press. “That behavior is unacceptable for a lot of reasons. Like I told our student-athletes today, we all have responsibilities. When you wear the logo of Florida Atlantic University, you wear it 24 hours a day. … We hold you to a higher standard and you have to hold yourself to that standard. Decisions were made that ultimately hurt some people, and there’s consequences for those decisions.”
According to Chun, two informants alerted the school about seeing the coaches using drugs. After an investigation, Pelini and Rekstis were questioned and agreed to resign, as initially reported by ESPN.com. Of course, if Pelini wasn’t 5-15 at Florida Atlantic and 2-6 this season, you wonder if all of this would have been ignored and gone up in smoke.
“I apologize for exercising poor judgment,” Pelini said in a statement. “My greatest concerns at this time are for my family, the dedicated FAU players and my staff. I am confident Pat Chun and the University administration will continue to move the program forward.”
As for the Flying Pelini Brothers, they belong in their own Fellini movie. Earlier this season, Bo Pelini, the hyper-emotional coach at an outmoded Midwestern program where delusional fans think Nebraska still should win national titles, came under fire after a 2011 audio tape was sent to a sleaze website. In a private setting, Pelini was captured firing obscenities about “fair-weather” fans who’d left a game in droves, missing Nebraska’s furious comeback win over Ohio State. He was given a reprieve by university officials, but after a recent loss to Minnesota, Bo’s seat is very hot again.
Two Pelinis, two programs, two pink slips.
You can’t make this stuff up.