Welcome to Mo’ Faux.
It feels weird to introduce you to this space since I just got here too - it’s like the pilot welcoming you to Pittsburgh even though he just arrived 50 feet ahead of you. But since I set up the place and chose the font and layout and everything, I offer you my sincere Official Welcome. We don’t have any furniture yet so feel free to sit on that stack of magazines or one of those boxes over there.
I’m the guy behind Faux Pelini, the Twitter parody of (former?) college football coach Bo Pelini. You may have seen my columns over at The Athletic, where I’ve been serving up questionable life advice, observations about the NCAA’s constant dipshittery and even the occasional graduation speech.
I’ll still be writing for The Athletic once in a while, but I’ll be posting thoughts and observations about sports and life here every Friday. There will even be a comment section — I’ll hang out down there once in while, so be nice to each other.
Like I said, I just got here too, so we’ll figure it out together.
You and I probably first met on Twitter, where I gave birth to Faux Pelini late one December night on my living room couch. I was immediately captivated by Twitter’s possibilities. How cool was it that you could start an anonymous account and within minutes send obnoxious, insulting messages to famous people? I felt like I was on the cutting edge of assholery.
Eventually Faux settled down a bit and the real and fake Bo Pelinis found themselves living an unspoken, unpeaceful coexistence. Bo would scream at referees during Nebraska games, and Faux would back him up by tweeting angry words into the universe. Faux was the yin to Bo’s yang, the Cher to his Sonny, the belt to his khakis.
I began to get questions on Twitter about my relationship with Bo. Had I ever met him? Did I want to meet him? Was I him? I shrugged them off, since Bo and Faux had operated in parallel but separate universes. I didn’t think we’d ever cross paths.
And then in January 2014, during the college football title game, part of my brain melted:
Bo had careened his universe directly into mine. I was one part confused, two parts honored and three parts shocked. Faux was no longer flying under Bo’s radar; I had a new internet best friend.
And then a few months later, at Nebraska’s 2014 Spring Game, Bo cemented our relationship by bringing his cat onto the field:
Things took off from there, and by the time the 2014 football season rolled around Faux Pelini was at full throttle, blasting out rants and general smartass content on a daily basis, especially on Husker game days during a mostly successful 2014 Husker football campaign.
And then the unthinkable happened: Bo was fired from Nebraska after a 9-3 season.
I did not see it coming.
At the time I was convinced that Faux would have to do one of three things: (1) follow Bo to his next gig (Youngstown State), (2) stay behind and tweet Nebraska stuff as a sort of Ghost of Bo thing, or (3) ride into the Twitter sunset.
I agonized over this for a month or so. None of these choices felt right, but I had to make a decision. What was the most logical direction? What made the most sense for this weird internet character I was accidentally in charge of?
I went back and forth and back and forth and almost shut the whole thing down out of sheer frustration until a cousin of mine pointed out the obvious: It’s Twitter. It doesn’t have to make sense.
So I kept Faux Pelini going, with no plan in mind, and it turned out my cousin was right. You don’t have to explain what or why you’re tweeting, people will simply follow or they won’t. Tweets are fleeting and disposable and ultimately nobody really cares that much.
Bo and Faux continued to coexist at a safe distance in their post-Nebraska era, and things seemed fine for a while.
Alas, all weird things must come to an end. In a Sports Illustrated article published in May 2020, the real Bo Pelini made clear that he’s had enough of all this:
“I think [the Faux Pelini account] is ridiculous. There’s an example of somebody who sits behind his computer every day. It just sticks in my craw,” Pelini says. “I don’t think the guy means it that way. It’s funny and some people find it to be funny and I thought it was funny for a while, but after a while, it’s like, you know, I don’t find it funny.”
My first reaction after reading this was PANIC. I mean, I do sit behind a computer most days. How does he know this — does he know who I am, where I live? Am I in danger? Would I spend my last living moment getting berated on my front porch by Bo and his brother before everything went dark like in The Sopranos finale?
But my second reaction, which I still feel today, is that this is exactly how things had to happen, because I have tweeted literally thousands of things like this:
ContentNBA @ContentNBALeBron is the first player in NBA history to score 7,000 points in the playoffs.
I mean, I get it. One man can only take so much parodying.
Of all the craws in the world, the last one I want to be stuck in is Bo Pelini’s, but I cant really blame the guy for getting a little tired of being associated with all this nonsense.
Faux Pelini wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Bo and his antics, so I’ll always be grateful to him for being who he is. And the Faux Pelini Twitter account will continue on, without much of a plan or direction — you’ll find my actual thoughts and frustrations in Faux’s voice during Husker games, whether it makes sense or not.
But unless Bo screams himself into the news (always possible) you won’t be seeing his name in this corner of the internet very often. Bo deserves the credit and blame for inspiring the Faux Pelini phenomenon but this will mainly be a Pelini Free Zone.
My wife came up with the name of this newsletter. This was extremely helpful since I hate most of my own creative ideas — if I had thought of the name I would have almost certainly talked myself out of it. But like a Coke from McDonald’s, some things just seem better when they’re someone else’s. So “Mo’ Faux” it is.
(My 12 year old did ask if I was aware that “Mo’ Faux” is short for a Really Bad Swear. He will be switching friends and perhaps schools).
Anyway, I think the name works, but something has been bugging me about it. Maybe you noticed it too.
I don’t know, I’m just not fully comfortable with that extra squiggle dangling after the Mo and before the Faux. Is it really necessary? Nothing against apostrophes - I just think they’re stupid. Like most French punctuation, apostrophes just add unnecessary clutter and require the reader to pause and figure out what letters are missing, like a game of hangman on a Chili’s kids’ menu.
The apostrophe has survived for now, mostly so people don’t confuse this for a newsletter about Maureen Faux, the HR Manager at Forkers Limited. But I’m not excited about it.
If you have thoughts about the apostrophe or anything else, let’s talk down there in the comments section.
Thanks for jumping on the Substack train with me. If you like it, tell somebody about it. I’ll try to stay out of your craws.