LINCOLN, Neb. -- They call him T-Magic. His coach seemed to call him out last fall in what might have been the turning point in Nebraska's season.
Huskers' quarterback Taylor Martinez said Tuesday that coach Bo Pelini "misunderstood" events surrounding his injuries during a bitter loss to Texas A&M. Martinez went into detail about the contentious situation the night of Nov. 20 in College Station. During that game, Martinez reinjured his right ankle and had to leave early during a 9-6 loss to the Aggies.
That's when controversy sprouted. Back in the lockerroom after being examined, Martinez said he spoke to his father, Casey Martinez, via cell phone during the game.
By the day after on Sunday, Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman had criticized Pelini's sideline behavior. The coach had to shoot down rumors that his quarterback had left the team.
What the public saw that night was Pelini berating officials and getting in the face of his quarterback. Martinez had emerged from the lockerroom after treatment early in the game, only to have Pelini poke a finger in his chest on the sideline.
Here's how Martinez saw it:
"I hurt my [left] turf toe then two plays later, that's when our center stepped on me. I went to the sidelines, then went back and got X-rayed. After I got X-rayed, I went back to the lockerroom. I couldn't move at all. It was so painful, my left toe and my right ankle. I was in so much pain. I didn't think I was going back in.
"I was trying to walk to our lockerroom to feel it out. I plugged in my phone for the charger. It was on and it lit up. I saw it. I saw my dad called me. I called him back and told him I didn't think I was going back in. I couldn't move at all. I explained to him what happened."
Martinez did eventually return in the second half but threw for only 107 yards in the game. Nebraska came into the game 9-1 and ranked ninth. It finished the season losing three of its last four, including the Big 12 title game to Oklahoma and the Holiday Bowl to Washington.
Was Martinez surprised how much was made about the night of Nov. 20?
"I was, but people could have their own assumptions of what happened. Maybe they don't think it's a correct thing, that what I did was call my dad and let him know what happened. I got turf toe and he didn't know about that. He actually thought I tore my ACL or broke my femur or whatever. He was concerned like any other father would be."
So he called you. Was he just taking a shot and hoping you'd answer the phone?
"Yeah. He knew I went to the lockerroom. I thought I was done. I didn't think I'd be able to go back in. I knew it was him who was calling. I explained to him what happened. The trainer was next to me ...
"Coach Pelini misunderstood what one of the trainers told him [about] what was going on. That's when Coach Pelini came over and talked to me about it. He was heated because of everything going on, everything going on in the game."
These are revealing comments from the rising redshirt sophomore known for his aversion to media. Maybe it's because it was the offseason and he was relaxing on his turf in the Nebraska athletic offices. Maybe Martinez is opening up. Maybe this means Nebraska is getting the leader it desperately needs at quarterback. Backup Cody Green left the team in the offseason.
Whatever the case, Big Red Nation is agonizing over which Martinez shows up this season, the Huskers' first in the Big Ten. The Good T-Magic looked like a Heisman candidate during the first half of 2010. After the injuries, the Bad T-Magic lost mobility and effectiveness.
"It [injuries] pretty much changed everything," Martinez said. "I was pretty much playing on one foot. You can't move. I think Tom Osborne said it's like Peyton Manning breaking his arm, comparing me with my ankle."
Martinez said both the turf toe and ankle will be 100 percent going into the season. Pelini is expected back in the office this week after taking some time off.