Welcome to Big Old Goofy World . . . a place where I can share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams about this rock that we live on and call home.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Big Red Fever

At some point I must have crossed the line . . . I am not really sure what tipped me over and created the fever, but I feel my temperature rising.  It might have been yesterday on my daughter's blog, The Luckiest, when she joined other bloggers to link onto another blog to share stories about their "favorite football team."  That was a challenge that my daughter could not pass up as she already has the fever--the Big Red Fever.  My daughter never misses an opportunity to toot the horn of her favorite collegiate football team--the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers.  You can read her blog at http://misscandacepk.blogspot.com/2011/08/show-us-your-team-go-big-red.html.  Or it might have been when a native Nebraska friend living in Kansas City said he nearly peed his pants while watching a "teaser" video narrated by the Cornhusker's head coach--Bo Pellini:

It got my juices flowing but not enough to pee my pants.  I suggest that my friend in Kansas City get some Depends because there are better Husker videos out there . . . but, I get the point.  The temperature is rising and the fever is beginning to set in.  ONLY 24 more days until kick-off against the University of Chattanooga Mocs!

I admit that I am a die-hard University of Nebraska Cornhusker fan when it come to football.  I bleed red.  I know the words to the fight song.  I know that Memorial Stadium becomes the third most populous location in Nebraska (behind Omaha and Lincoln) whenever there is a home game.  I have made the pilgrimage to the Big Red Mecca and counted myself among the faithful.  I have hats, t-shirts, sweatshirts, and other accessories covered with the Husker logo.  Even my truck's license plate is a tribute to Big Red:

I am one of the faithful of Husker Nation--we are legion throughout the world.  There are season ticket holders from every state in the United States that attend the games along with countless others from around the world.  We are a family no matter where we move to and we remain faithful to the Crimson and Cream.  We are Husker Nation!

The University of Nebraska has a long and proud history of playing football.  The University played and won its first game on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 1890 over the Omaha YMCA (yeah, say what you will, but those Christian boys weren't pushovers as Nebraska won 10 to 0) to start the ball rolling.  Since that first kick-off the mighty University of Nebraska gridders have played 1,222 games--they have won 837 of those games, lost 345, and had 40 ties in a 121 seasons on the grid iron.  That is a lifetime winning percentage of .701 which ranks fourth in victories in NCAA Division I.  This is a proud tradition that likes winning, especially at home in Memorial Stadium.  Though their overall winning percentage is impressive, they are even better on their home turf.  Since playing the first game at Memorial Stadium in 1923 (and, of which all the games since have been played) the Huskers are 379-115-13 at home--that is a 75 percent winning rate.  But since 1986 they have been nearly unbeatable at home with a record of 148-15 for a 91 percent winning record.  Less than nine wins a season is considered a losing season among the faithful of Husker Nation.

The University of Nebraska has not always been known as the Cornhuskers or Huskers.  In the beginning they were called a variety of names: Tree Planters ( for those of you who don't understand this reference look up Arbor Day), Nebraskans, the Rattlesnake Boys, Antelopes (which late became the mascot for my alma mater, Kearney State College now know as the University of Nebraska at Kearney), Old Gold Knights, and the Bugeaters.  For about a decade the Bugeaters became  the unofficial name for the football team until the year 1900.  That year sports writer Charles "Cy" Sherman wrote a story in the Nebraska State Journal proclaiming them the "Cornhuskers" after a close victory over the University of Iowa.  The name stuck and eventually became the official name for the University's athletic teams--ever since they have been known as the Cornhuskers or Huskers.  By the way--a bugeater is a bird.

Though the team has had periods of lack-luster performances on the field over the years, they have been pretty much winning from the beginning.  The team has been blessed with an abundance of athletes--in the beginning primarily from the state and later from all over the United States--that made them competitive with all the big boys across the country.  This athleticism has led to five national championships (1970-1971-1994-1995-1997), 43 conference titles (in three different conferences over the years--now four with the Big Ten), and 47 bowl appearances (which ranks fifth in the NCAA Division I--all-time).  Not bad for a bunch of farm boys!

That athletic ability has translated into a lot of awards for the team.  Since 1914 there have been 109 first team All American Team players and countless second and third team players from the University of Nebraska Cornhusker football team.  There have been three Heisman Trophy winners: Johnny "the Jet" Rodgers in 1972, Mike Rozier in 1983, and Eric Crouch in 2001.  There are 20 players in the College Hall of Fame.  Over 300 players have gone on to be drafted into the National Football League.  The year 2010 represented the 41st consecutive year that the Cornhuskers had at least three players chosen in the draft.  There are three players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.  And, they are holders of 14 NCAA Team Records, but the record that the University and the Husker Nation is proudest of is its consecutive home sell-out streak.  At the start of the 2011 football season their record stands at 311 consecutive sell-outs that started with the 1962 season.  It is tougher getting a season ticket at Nebraska than winning the state lottery!

Despite the athleticism of the Husker football team one needs to understand that these are NOT dumb farm boys playing a game.  Another point of pride is the academic success the team has had over the years--more so than any other team in the country.  There have been 65 first team and 34 second and third team CoSIDA Academic All Americans from the Cornhuskers over the years.  The Huskers also lead the nation in all-time NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winners with 33.  When we proudly proclaim that the "N" on the side of the helmet stands for "'nowledge" we know what we are talking about.

It is not difficult to get excited about a football tradition like the University of Nebraska--there is a lot to stand in awe about from the field to the classroom.  In 24 days a new era of Husker football begins . . . the Huskers are now a part of the infamous Big Ten.  Some folks are lamenting the switch from the Big Twelve and see this as stepping from the frying pan into the fire, but the excitement builds.  It builds because the Huskers have been picked as one of the favorites to win the Big Ten in their first year.  It builds because the team is bringing back one of the best defenses in the nation--the Blackshirts:

The faithful of Husker Nation see the Blackshirts as the foundation and the power of their team.  It also helps that many of the players on the offense are back for another year with a more mature and veteran quarterback.  But it is the defense that is the trademark of recent Husker teams and the Blackshirts represent that:

The temperature is rising and I can feel it.  It is only 24 days away from the first kick-off against the Mocs of Chattanooga and then a week later the Huskers kick off their Big Ten season against one of the most recent powers of the Big Ten--the Wisconsin Badgers.  The Huskers have a killer schedule with all the Big Ten heavy weights their first year, but they are up to the task--if not this year, next year.  I'm excited!  Husker Nation is excited--even here in the remote outreaches of Montana--the Husker faithful are excited.

Big Red Fever--ya gotta love it!  It won't break until the first ball is kicked off in 24 days!  In the meantime if you catch me humming, listen closely . . . it's the Nebraska fight song:

There is no place like Nebraska,
Dear old Nebraska U.
Where the girls are the fairest,
The boys are the squarest,
Of any old school that I knew.
There is no place like Nebraska,
Where they're all true blue.
We'll all stick together,
In all kinds of weather,
For dear old Nebraska U.

No comments: