In Nebraska, football is king. And Bo Pelini is king of Nebraska football.

At press conferences, it's hard to get him to talk about anything other than football. He's been around the game his entire life.

Saturday was different.

"I'll be honest with you," he said, "going into the football game, I didn't think the game should have been played for a lot of different reasons."

There was speculation that Saturday's contest between Penn State and Nebraska would be canceled after a 23-page grand jury report detailing alleged sexual abuse of young boys by former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was released.

Athletic Director Tim Curley and a high-ranking administrator were charged with perjury as well. On Wednesday, longtime football coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier were fired. Wide receivers coach Mike McQueary was put on administrative leave.

"It is a lot bigger than football, the NCAA, the Big Ten and anything else," Pelini said.

The coach's biggest talking point? Education.

"I just think about the kids. I have a 12-year-old boy. It's about educating the young kids," Pelini said. "I think there were a lot of young kids, all week, with all the things going on and watching ESPN were really confused for a lot of different reasons. There is a lot out there that people do not know and a lot of speculation. It's not about the adults, football or anything else. It's about education to the youth."

Pelini said at times during last week it was difficult as a coach. He had to keep his team focused the football game, but he also felt the situation could be used as a teaching moment for his players.

"I look at my job as a football coach is to educate and to prepare the kids who come in the program for the rest of their life," Pelini said. "That's what we are; we're a university system."

On the opposite end of Beaver Stadium at Penn State's postgame press conference, the opinion about whether the game should be played was different.

"I personally felt that this was a time to play," PSU interim president Rodney Erickson said. "It was a time that we could recognize and bring national focus to the problem of sexual abuse. To do so in a way that reflected unity and reflected support and that reflected the need for us to bring these issues out into the open."

One of the main arguments during the week was that canceling the game or rest of the season would be unfair to Penn State players. It was Senior Day at Beaver Stadium and multiple past players attended and were on the sidelines during the game.

"At the end of the day, we're about healing," PSU offensive lineman Chima Okoli said. "Like I said, we're about the victims and their families because you take the situation and you can let it hang over our university and our football program."

"But at the end of the day, the players, we didn't have anything to do with it. For us to be saddled with that two days before a big game, it takes some fighting through. I think there is good that can be come of this. I do feel that there can be healing."

Penn State interim head coach Tom Bradley said during the week, football gave his players a break from all the controversy.

"They were happy to come because it was all about football," he said. "And I saw it. I saw there was a lot of joy at practice."

The support for sexual abuse victims wasn't lost because of the game, though. The students organized a "Blue Out" in support and both teams met in the middle of the field before the game for a prayer.

"But with it (the game) being play(ed), kneeling down and praying with both teams coming together was the right thing to do and hopefully that in of itself made a statement," Pelini said.

dougburger@dailynebraskan.com