Faux Pelini, a parody Twitter account imitating longtime Nebraska football coach Bo Pelini, is in a very real predicament.
The account is run by a Chicago-area lawyer and lifelong Nebraska fan who has never actually met Pelini, but who has built a massive Twitter following by ribbing the coach on everything from his salary to his play calling for the past four college football seasons.
The account is incredibly popular — it has been featured on ESPN and has more than 172,000 followers, nearly twice as many as the real Bo Pelini account. But there’s a problem: Pelini no longer coaches football at Nebraska.
Pelini was fired over Thanksgiving weekend, ending a seven-season stint at Nebraska and leaving Faux Pelini with an interesting decision. What should he do with his Twitter account and the 172,000 followers that come with it?
“I was a bit taken by surprise [when Pelini was fired],” Faux told Re/code (we agreed to keep Faux anonymous — why ruin the fun?). “It’s forcing the issue in that something about the account has to change.”
Faux Pelini is weighing his options. He can follow Pelini to his new job or create an account for the team’s new coach, neither of which interest him.
He could sell off the account, and his massive following along with it. In the past, Faux has been offered money by advertisers looking to include their message or branding along with his tweets, but he has never agreed to participate. “Even though we’re talking about a goofy parody account here, it’s been important for me to protect the integrity of it,” he said. He views selling the account in much the same way, although he hasn’t ruled it out completely.
That leaves, according to Faux, two options. He can continue running the account to provide commentary from now “former coach” Pelini, a concept that could get less and less fun as Pelini’s departure fades into the distance. Or he could shut it down altogether, an option that many Nebraska fans may be disappointed to learn is high on the list.
“I haven’t made my mind up yet,” he said.
The potential decision to abandon ship isn’t due to a lack of fun — Faux says he’s had a blast managing the account, with a few memorable moments standing out, including one of his only interactions with the real Pelini (on Twitter, of course).
During last season’s National Championship game in January, the real Pelini actually tweeted at Faux: “Enough is enough… I want my cat back,” he wrote, a nod to Faux Pelini’s profile photo, which shows Pelini caressing a cat while donning a sweater worthy of winning your company’s ugly holiday sweater contest.
For now, however, it’s decision time for Faux. And even if the account is abandoned, Faux says it won’t be deleted. In fact, he may even turn his experience into a book.
And maybe someday, he’ll actually meet the man he has been poking fun at for the past four years. When asked if he would ever want to meet the real Pelini, Faux paused and took a deep breath.
“Sure I’d like to meet him. Probably in a public, controlled environment and not in a dark alley,” he joked. “It’d be interesting to shake his hand and see what he thinks of this whole thing.”
Update: Faux has decided to continue the account, following the real Pelini to his new coaching job at Youngstown State, a much less prestigious football school. What changed his mind? “Taking a lower profile job, and going out like he did. Still lots to do,” Faux told Re/code.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.