It is approximately 18 hours before the season officially begins. In 18 hours the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers begin another season of football . . . its 123rd season . . . against the University of Wyoming Cowboys. It shouldn’t be much of a game, but who knows . . . nah, it won’t be much of a game. With 18 hours to go, the excitement and anticipation build for those of us who bleed red . . . football season is about to begin.
Unfortunately, thanks to being out in the middle of Montana—Grizzly Bear and Bobcat country—and, being cheap . . . I won’t be able to watch the game on television. Oh, it is on television, if I want to pay to watch the game, but I am pretty cheap . . . especially when it is a game against . . . well, you know . . . Wyoming. Thank goodness for the technology of the day where I can get play-by-play on the Internet . . . it is almost like listening to the games way back when there was only radio. I will survive . . .
The University of Nebraska Cornhusker obsession in the Keener family is solid . . . I am a die-hard fan, three of my children are die-hard fans, the wife rides the fence, and one child hates the Huskers despite being born and raised in Nebraska . . . he is a Virginia Tech Hokie fan. What the hell is a Hokie? Their mascot is a turkey. I should know, I had two cousins who graduated from Virginia Tech . . . one was even a male cheerleader for the Hokies. I still wonder if I dropped this child during a Cornhusker game around Thanksgiving causing him to be a Hokie fan . . . I often wonder where I failed as a parent with him. He hates it when the Huskers are on television . . . complains that it is ridiculous at how the rest of the family acts.
Oh well, not being able to speak for the rest of the family, I can only say that I have improved over the years. I hardly ever yell at the television any more . . . hardly swear at the television any more . . . hardly threaten to throw a bottle or other object at the television any more. I don’t know whether it is maturity or the fact that I start drinking beer hours before the game . . . tailgating, you know. I have calmed down . . . except when Brent Musberger is announcing the games . . . then all bets are off . . . the guy has never said anything positive about the Huskers. Whenever he is covering the game for ABC, I turn the sound off . . . it is cheaper than replacing the television because I threw a bottle or shoe at the screen.
As I cannot understand how anyone can root for a turkey, my son cannot understand how I can root for some guy who picks and husks corn. Once again, I remind my son that it is better than what the team used to be known as throughout the years of their tradition. In the beginning they were known as the Bugeaters . . . then the Tree Planters . . . the Rattlesnake Boys . . . Antelopes . . . and, even the Hawkeyes. Surprisingly, the University of Iowa team was known as the Cornhuskers in the early years of their football program . . . only when they took over the Hawkeye name did Nebraska become the Cornhuskers. But, at least we don’t gooble! Yet, at the same time, I can respect my son’s choice . . . maybe I don’t understand it, but I can respect . . . I can respect it as long as he respect mine. When he doesn’t, well . . . I remind him whose house it is and who is paying for the cable.
I don’t watch a lot of television . . . about four hours a month. When football season rolls around . . . I watch Cornhusker football wherever I can find it on the television. It is the only television I watch. Once again, though, Montana is not a big market for Cornhusker football . . . after all, this is Grizzly and Bobcat country. Thus it is that I relish those few opportunities that the Huskers are on television, much to the chagrin of this son of mine. Luckily, for him, the Huskers are not on our set tomorrow.
I am not sure how anyone explains their deep affection and love for a sports team. I have been a Cornhusker fan since moving to Nebraska way back in the dark ages of the 1970s. I have embraced the lore and myth of this team . . . I bleed red. I have rejoiced in the greatest moments, and lamented in the lowest. I am a part of the Husker Nation . . . my license plates on my VW Jetta and Ford Ranger sport statements that are references to the Big Red. The one reads “Bugetrs” (Bugeaters), while the other is “NU SKRS” (Nebraska University Husker). Unfortunately most Montanans—unique in the way they see and pronounce everything—think that “Bugetrs” has to do with accounting, and the “NU SKRS” means that I am a new skier. Duh!!
Oh well, such is life. The fact is that in 18 hours the Cornhuskers begin their 124th season as a football power. I know that people do not understand the fascination and loyalty of Cornhusker fans . . . but, hey, have you ever been to Nebraska? If you have, then you should understand the loyalty of Husker football fans.
In 18 hours, the season begins. It will be what it is . . . for better or worse . . . for in sickness and health . . . the season begins. I will continue to root for my team . . . root for the boys who make up the team . . . and, I hope, always stay loyal no matter how much they underestimate a team. Tomorrow it is the Cowboys of the University of Wyoming. On paper it does not look like much of a game . . . but, in real life, it is wide-open. Trust me, I have lived and died following Cornhusker football.
With the first kick-off last night, the football season has begun. The blood pressure has risen . . . it is almost more than I can wait for. Go Big Red . .. GBR!!!