Welcome to Your First Weekend as a Free Man, Shawn Eichorst

Hey Shawn,

Congrats on your first day of funemployment!

How is it treating you so far? Did you muster up the courage to get out of bed? Don’t feel ashamed if you didn’t. There is nothing wrong with isolating yourself in the darkness during moments of despair. Judge Judy and Steve Harvey can make great company. Plus, daytime TV is a great reminder that no matter how bad things can be, they can always be worse. At least you weren’t on the wrong end of a paternity test, right?

I imagine making national news for being unexpectedly fired has to sting a little. As much as you feel the urge to do something drastic, you need to fight it with all your strength. Keeping a low profile and maintaining your cool will work wonders for you in the long term.

Trust me, the last thing you want to do is get arrested for egging Memorial Stadium in the early hours of gameday, or end up on someone’s Snapchat face down in a toilet at O’Rourke’s Tavern.

Your first weekend as a free man should be all about staying invisible. (From the accounts I’ve read about your firing, this should be easy for you.) Even before you proved it with last week’s blunder of giving up the Black Friday game, Nebraskans have always considered you an outsider to the point that there were rumblings in the deep, dark corners of Huskermax that you were really a sleeper cell agent secretly working for Wisconsin.

And that leads to an important detail about Nebraskans that you may have overlooked. If the number one sport in Nebraska is Husker football, coming in at a very close second is the sport of gossip. Behind that pleasant exterior of the average Nebraskan lurks a devious desire to know all the dirt about about anyone and everyone.

When I said stay invisible two paragraphs ago, that means don’t leave your house. Even a just a couple hours out in the yard is long enough to spawn half a dozen “Sad Shawn Eichorst Doing Yard Work” Twitter accounts. If there’s a home improvement project you need to tackle, buy whatever you need online. While your local Home Depot will be a ghost town on Saturday afternoon, all it takes is one set of eyes for the world to know that Shawn was in buying some spackle.

Instead, I’d suggest these first days in isolation be spent watching Netflix. Go on a bender. You could be the first person in the world to watch Daredevil season 1, Jessica Jones, Daredevil season 2, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and The Defenders in one sitting. That would be legendary stuff, man.

Or, you can start organizing all the Nebraska swag you’ve acquired over the years. I can’t imagine you want to hang onto all of it and dumping off a giant pile at one Goodwill would be sure to grab some dubious headlines. Instead, spread around a bunch of smaller donations like an ax murderer disposing of body parts. Maybe you can even make some late night drop offs at parking lot donation bins.

If you’re thinking about getting away from it all for while, that’s not a bad idea either. Just be sure to fly out of KCI. The schlep will be worth not getting snickered at by an Eppley Airfield TSA agent. Plus, if anyone spots you in KC, people will assume you’re already making moves if you’re down in the big city.

But don’t be gone to long. You don’t want to have a $1.7 million dollar settlement check collecting dust in your mailbox.

And that leads to my final bit of advice for now. $1.7 million is like $17 million in Lincoln, NE. As much as you probably want to move away as fast as you can, you can live a very comfortable life in the Star City with a nest egg like that, especially if you take advantage of all the cheap booze and beer nights around town.

But if you really do want to move away, take your time in listing your house. It would throw the media who spent the last 24 hours raking you over the coals for a total loop if your pad didn’t show up on Zillow for at least year.

Or, you could really really troll everyone by turning Casa de Eichorst into an Airbnb. There’s no doubt Dirk and Lee would book a sleepover and imagine their horror if you are hiding in the walls to haunt them. Oh, this could be genius prank. Just be sure to wait until November 1 to buy all your fake blood and other props when they go on sale post Halloween. You don’t have a job anymore so you need to pinch some pennies when you can.


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Sunday Morning Hot Takes: Northern Illinois Edition

Well, it happened. Northern Illinois broke me.

Over the course of 60 minutes, the youthful exuberance and optimism that I’ve had for the Huskers since the age of Game of the Century II was ripped from my body.

It wasn’t a swift, it-will-only-hurt-for-a-second, pulling of the Band-Aid that held what was left of  my spirit together. It was a back alley surgery done by a community college dropout equipped with nothing more than a rusty Garden Weasel and a bottle of expired Robitussin to use as anesthesia.

When I finally regained consciousness following this Medieval procedure, there was no physical evidence of the damage that was inflicted, only a feeling of emptiness where my Husker soul once resided.

Then I looked in the mirror and discovered my hair had been seared into a shade of white, highlighted by a distinct hue.

Congratulations, Huskers.

You did it.

You turned me into a Blue Hair.

Before today, I had a little grey around the ears but I thought for sure I had another decade and a half before the Grumpy Old Man Achievement was unlocked. But nope, today was the fateful day. I didn’t even get to make a pit stop at the Run the Ball Guy level. The Northern Illinois game transported me right to the end.

At least my youth went out with a bang. I watched the game alone in the fort that sits at the top of our backyard and fixed myself a hearty breakfast of Lucky Charms and a few beermosas. I  was living that best life that Ben Sasse hates all too well. It was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning.

Then Tanner Lee threw a pick six and then another one for good measure and then I switched to drinking straight beer.

When that shit show mercifully ended, I holed up in the fort long after the final whistle, laying on the floor, using an inflatable beach chair as a pillow, and doing my best to avoid my lovely wife, who would no doubt ask if the Huskers won. We’ve been together for 12 years and outside that glimmer of hope in 2009, she’s never known the Huskers as a good team. It’s been a long running joke in her family about how every season is going to be the year until it isn’t. Sunday afternoon she’ll have a few laughs with her Georgia Tech alum father about my misery and she’ll pass along the cleverly underhanded condolences from her mother. (I swear the lady does research in order to craft the perfectly cruel thing to say.)

The most biting part of losing to Northern Illinois is that it doesn’t sting. It’s a new, undiscovered level of embarrassment.

From 1987-2001, the Huskers lost 26 games and every single one was a devastating loss. Since 2002, the once mighty Big Red has put up 73 losses and when a fresh one gets added to the scorebook, fans either become more numb or, even worse, indifferent. The crop of fans that was born during the dynasty of the 90s are pushing 25 these days and none of them know a time when the Huskers were a consistent juggernaut. Sure, there were a few good seasons but there’s legacy to hang your Cornhead on.

And that’s a big problem.

At the path they’re currently on, the Huskers are going to be known to future generations as a team that doesn’t win them all but might be able to run with the B1G dogs for 55 minutes and maybe even knock one off every season or two.

Meanwhile, those of us who are old enough to have been there will keep muttering to anyone who will listen that the Huskers went 60-3 once.

Enough moping. Here’s the shit that sticks in my craw.

SHAWH EICHORST: At least he got the memo quick that Black Fridays are for Husker football. Now he just needs to remember that the next time he’s on the cusp of making another mealy mouthed decision for the good of the Big Ten at the expense of the Huskers. Shawn, put your foot down and stand up for the school that pays you, not suck up to the one you wish would hire you.

MIKE RILEY: There has to be a point where even the World’s Nicest Coach gets pissed off enough to flip a table and shows some real emotion and fire. Half the time he roams the sidelines like he’s either Walter Mitty or a grizzled coach who was probably going to retire until he won a lottery he didn’t know he entered and ended up with a job in coaching heaven.

Pretend for a moment that you’re a 17-year-old being recruited to play at Nebraska. Would you see the opportunity as a chance to help a once storied program return to glory or as a chance to take the easy way out?

Think about it.

You’d be playing for a coach who doesn’t yell at you AND would hook you up with Kendrick Lamar tickets. He’s basically a super chill grandpa. He won’t even suspend you for weed. Your locker room is so nice it makes the facilities on a Saudi Prince’s yacht look pedestrian. You’d get all the adidas gear you could handle (maybe even a pair of Yeezys). Then there are the fans who always show up NO MATTER WHAT and will cheer you on to the bitter end or until your lackluster play sends them to the exits but they’ll all be back next week because that’s what Nebraska fans do. If you can handle the relaxed pace and schizophrenic weather of Lincoln, you’d live like a football god and get all the thrills of playing at a marquee program without any of the annoying pressure to accomplish something. If that sounds far fetched, there’s a key recruit who didn’t even make it to fall practice before being shipped back to Calabraska.

THE HUSKER BRAND: It’s time to get back to the good ol’ days when it was the football team that won all the trophies instead of its in-house advertising agency. Look, I know all the Chatsnap and Instantgram videos and other #onbrand #content that fans love is really to lure potential recruits but maybe it’s time to dial it back. If the architects of the Husker Brand are so concerned with its image that Fox Sports is asked to stop running a promotional video that shows the goddamn Nebraska Cornhuskers standing in a goddamn cornfield, you might as well change the team name to the Silicon Prairie Dogs and put helmet cams on every player and stream the games live on Twitch.

During the summer, the Huskers digital department posted a video of Tristan Gebbia and a few other young players exploring all of downtown’s attractions like Raising Canes (whatever the hell that is) and Chipotle (Taco John’s for life) and other fast casual restaurants. I know kids these days are special and unique snowflakes but if their decision to come to Lincoln hinges on mediocre dining options then maybe they’re not the right players.

Back in my day if you ever saw a football player stroll into a downtown restaurant, you gave them a wide berth and didn’t make eye contact just like gazelles do when a lion saunters up to the watering hole.

And here’s the important thing. None of those guys gave two shits about living in a college town that was considered cool to people outside Nebraska. The only media exposure they got was a yearly black and white picture in the Husker Media Guide and they were happy. If any of them were asked to take over the Huskers Instagram account for day, the first thing posted would be a video of the Husker digital intern who bothered them with that dumb question getting his spine ripped out because those guys came to Lincoln to do two things: play football and kick ass.

TANNER LEE: I’m not going to go back and see which interception it was but there was a moment during the game where Tanner was on the bench getting some words of encouragement from Joshua Kalu. Dude, you’re the quarterback and a captain and the Huskers are your team. Get off the bench and fire up your teammates, unless throwing a “nice ball” to other teams is literally your only skill.

THE OFFENSIVE LINE: There was once a unit that went an entire season without giving up a single sack. It’d be nice if these guys could stop giving up a sack every series.

THE BLACKSHIRTS: Handing out 16 Blackshirts before the season begins is like handing out 16 participation trophies before a game starts. But Bob Diaco’s defense has quietly given up only one touchdown in the last six quarters despite the lack of a total badass to anchor the defense and send fear into the hearts into the team on the other side of the ball. Was Randy Gregory the last one? Sure feels like it. Oh wait. There was Nate Gerry, when he could bother to not be suspended.

THE SOCKS: During the pre-game show before the Oregon game, Matt Davison went on a little rant about how the Huskers no longer wear matching socks and it ruins the look of the uniform. At the time it seemed like a minor quibble but while watching the Huskers play like shit, I noticed they look like shit. That socks thing is kind of a big deal. You see white socks, red socks, black socks, high socks, and low socks. They look like a Pop Warner team where everything was included except the socks and the coach told the players to wear whatever they like. To bring it back to the 90s glory days one more time, I had a classmate in Sports Broadcasting class who was dating a football player. During warmups she pointed him out from up in the booth and told us that he was intentionally wearing his socks low so that he would stand out on the field (this was during the time of the red knee highs that Davison loved). When he went in to make his first punt return of day, the ref halted the game and ordered him to fix his socks so he matched his teammates.

Being on the same page with the little shit turns into being on the same page with the big shit… like not getting beat at home by Northern Illinois.

Alright. I’ve ranted enough. The early bird special starts in six hours at IHOP. I better go get in line.

MIKE RILEY’S BALLOON WATCH

We’ve reached football armageddon, people. And it’s only week four.


 

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Get excited. Apparently there’s a game today.

Nothing sucks the joy out of a football Saturday like an 11am kickoff, especially when it follows a loss that is still confusing a week later.

While I couldn’t seem to find the time to write about the Oregon game this week, I had time to watch it (the second half at least) three times and still feel like I don’t understand what exactly happened in Eugene.

Last week’s still-drunk-from-the-night-before prediction was that Bob Diaco would go all Rocky on the Duck defense somehow came kinda true except for the part where Bobby D. let the defense get a little too roughed up before flipping the Eye of the Tiger switch.

Pitching a shut out against the Ducks in the final 30 minutes was something nobody saw coming but then again a 42-14 halftime score walked a big chunk of the crowd from our watch site. By the time the Huskers snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, there were maybe a dozen of us left and we were surrounded by 200+ Ohio State fans, including this absolute peach of a lady who couldn’t stand it that the Husker game was left to play on a single TV.

Four random thoughts about the Oregon game 

1. Many folks seemed relieved and/or content that the Huskers weren’t embarrassed in Eugene. (I have to admit I’m kind of in that same boat.) With that final drive getting stomped out on the first play, there was no time to build up a glimmer of hope before the rug was pulled out from under the Big Red and almost coming back from being down 42-14 is the kind of effort that doesn’t require you to change out of your Husker shirt in the parking lot before continuing with the rest of your day.

However, is the standard of “at least we weren’t embarrassed” one we want to settle on? That’s the exact same standard my lovely wife has for me when we attend a social function with her friends. When you think about it, that’s a pretty low standard. Chew with your mouth closed, keep your fly up, and don’t tell any obnoxious jokes at the dinner table… basically as long as I’m not Homer Simpson I’m golden. Myself and the Huskers should probably try to do better one of these years.

2. Tanner’s Lee’s final stats: 19/41, 252 yards, 3 TD, 4INT, -19 rushing. With a line like that, Tanner left the field looking an immobile Tommy Armstrong on a bad day. For all the YOLOBombs Tommy chucked, he was only (miraculously) picked off four times just once in his career. With Tanner’s total lack of mobility, the offense basically gives up an extra runner out of the backfield so his passes better be to the right team.

3. Will DPE ever take one to the house again? When Oregon punted the ball away with 2:25 left in the 4th quarter the stage was set for DPE to tie it up. Instead he called for a fair catch when there was nothing but open field in front of him. Here’s hoping he finds a way to get his groove back before he graduates.

4. Why couldn’t have Stanley Morgan Jr. also have been Tommy’s roommate? Heading into the third game of the season he’s nearly at 50% of his final numbers from 2016 and has already eclipsed his touchdown total.

So… about today’s game…


With Les Miles in the booth, we had to make a drinking game. Play along at your own risk. 

Northern Illinois, huh?

Well, one thing the Huskies have in common with the Huskers is the last time both teams were ranked in the two major polls to end a season was 2012. While that was a crowning achievement for the Huskies, the Huskers, meanwhile, haven’t been able to climb back to what was once a tragically low standard.

NIU’s coach, Rod Carey, took the Huskie helm for the 2012 Orange Bowl as their former coach Dave Doeren parlayed that dream season into a dream job (if you want to call it that) at NC State.

Even if the Huskies are good enough to give the Huskers fits today, you can rest easy knowing the Huskers have a secret weapon lurking on the NIU sideline. Senior kicker Christian Hagan is an Omaha native who grew up a Husker fan. If this game comes down to a last second field goal, there’s no way he can drive a stake through the heart of Husker Nation, right?

But it won’t matter because the Huskers are going to win 49 – 17

PS: Can we at least see some proof of life that Devine Ozibo is still alive.


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Ducky II: How Nebraska Will Beat Oregon (Again)

It seems like the only one who’s confident about the Blackshirts’ chances of stopping the Oregon Ducks is Bob Diaco.

That would be same Bob Diaco whose defense surrendered 497 yards to Arkansas State last week and made no bones about the fact that his bone throwers on the field were conceding all those frustrating swing passes by design. If the Red Wolves offense was going to make the Blackshirts bleed, they were going to have to scratch and claw their way to the end zone. There would be no shots to the jugular on Diaco’s watch.

Diaco broke down his unconventional game plan during his unplanned Monday presser in which he also had to take time to set some things straight with his new buddies in the Nebraska media. 

Seeing a Sun Belt team rake up 497 yards doesn’t make for the sexiest stat line ever but as Diaco said on Monday, his prime directive is for his defense to do whatever it takes to ensure their opponent has one less point than the Huskers at the final whistle.

Sure, the Blackshirts could have been more aggressive last Saturday and gotten after the Red Wolves but why show what they’re really capable of if they don’t have to?

Kind of ruins the surprise for Oregon doesn’t it?

Now here’s where the Ducks are going to be in for a rude awakening. Since Diaco arrived on campus and flipped the 3-4 switch, the true potential of the revamped Blackshirts has been shrouded in a cloak of mystery.

Or, you could say he’s been keeping his defense holed up in a meat locker where they pound sides of beef into submission from sunup to sundown.

And suddenly, everything all makes sense.

Here’s an important detail about Diaco.

He’s an Italian who grew up in Cedar Grove, New Jersey, a mere 96 miles away from The City of Brotherly Love. It’s listed on your atlas as Philadelphia.

In other words, there’s a rather high likelihood that the Rocky saga has been fused to Diaco’s DNA.

What Bob Diaco was thinking about as the Nebraska media chased after him following the Arkansas State game.

In Rocky II, as we all know, Apollo Creed and Rocky Balboa squared off for a rematch. In their first fight, Rocky suffered a detached retina, an injury that could lead to much graver consequences than just being a career ender.

In order to protect his eye, which, as we all know, would go on to become the eye of the tiger in Rocky III, Mickey convinced Rocky to fight as a right hander instead of his natural southpaw. Keeping his left hand up to jab would make it much harder for Apollo to knock his eye out of his head. Then, when the time was right, Rocky would switch back to fighting left handed and pow, Apollo would have no idea what hit him.

And that’s exactly what is going to happen to the Ducks today.

The Blackshirts are finally going to come out swinging lefty and will spend the afternoon eating lightning and crapping thunder up and down the Autzen Stadium turf and knock Oregon’s block off.

Huskers win 37 – 31.


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Tuesday Afternoon Hot Takes: Arkansas State Edition

Well, that Arkansas State game was one way to accelerate the season from 0 – Chaos and Despair in the span of 60 minutes that felt like four hours.

Oh wait, that game was four hours long.

After a slightly shaky start, the Huskers got on a roll and Mike Riley was pumped.


But near the end of the fourth quarter he was suddenly too old for this shit.

By now, Husker Nation should be used to season openers that are full of stomach churning drama but it never gets any easier seeing the season flash before our collective eyes before it even has a chance to get started.

As dramatic as Arkansas State’s final push was on the field, the real drama of the night happened in the press room when new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco declined to talk about his defense that gave up 497 yards, most of which came on 46 completed passes that felt like one paper cut after another.

 

The butt hurt media got their wish and finally heard from Coach D. yesterday and boy did they ever. It’s safe to say he won’t be treating the World-Herald staff to lunch anytime soon.

So, to go back to the game, here are some random thoughts in a semi-particular order:

Hasta Luego YOLObomb: Laser Guided Bomb isn’t quite as catchy as YOLObomb but holy shit does Tanner Lee know how to throw a football. Along with a 44 yard precision strike to notch his first TD pass as a Husker, he showed deft touch on swing passes that often fell incomplete in previous seasons.

Tre BryantIn one night he eclipsed his 2016 rushing total with 192 yards on 31 carries and was the biggest surprise of the night in a night full of surprises on the offensive side of the ball.

The Jet Sweep: After two years fruitless of watching DPE get stuffed at the line of scrimmage, it finally worked. And it would have been a touchdown too if it weren’t for that meddling sideline.

JD Speilman and Tyjon LindseyThese guys are going to be fun to watch.

We’re already in mid-season form: Ryan from the Big Red Cobcast hosted a BBQ to kickoff the season and by the final play we all hit our stride as fans.

NUMBERS TO IMPRESS YOUR FRIENDS WITH

225: The Huskers’ rushing total.

238: The Huskers’ yardage through the air.

Can you say balanced offense?

MIKE RILEY’S BALLOON WATCH

No game recap that comes three days after the fact is complete without checking in on the state of Mike Riley.

This is Coach Riley when all is well with the Huskers.

And here’s the mood heading into Saturday’s showdown with Oregon.


Buckle up. It’s going to be a wild season.


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Welcome to the best day of the year

Congratulations, everyone.

We did it.

We made it to game day.

For a while there this summer, it didn’t seem like we’d make it by the way each day seemed like it was dragging on forever. Well, we’re finally here and I’ve been bouncing off the walls since waking up at 6am.

Unlike Game Day Eves of season’s past, I slept like a rock. There was insomnia induced by a “What’s Santa Bringing?” level of suspense. With the departure so many of the players we’ve cheered on over the last four years, the 2017 edition of the Huskers feels like a brand new team.

When you’re not quite sure of what to expect, it’s hard to get too worked up. But make no mistake, the excitement is there, especially when it comes to finding out what kind of havoc the new look Blackshirts are going to wreak under Bob Diaco.

They say Bob Diaco is a high motor guy.

The returning faces will help lessen the strangeness of seeing Tanner Lee under center (btw, how is DPE already a senior?) but this team is going to need a little seasoning and breaking in like a fresh pair of underpants.

And the Arkansas State Red Wolves are a great place to start. If the Red Wolves aren’t a team that’s been on your radar, they’re the defending Sun Belt champions, going 8-5 last season and finishing the year with a 31 – 20 Cure Bowl (whatever that one is) win over Scott Frost’s UCF Knights.

The last time the Huskers played the Red Wolves was back in 2012,  a day where Taylor Martinez  completed 13 of 14 (!) passes and Ameer Abdullah ran for 167 yards in a 42 – 13 win that came a week after a frustrating loss to UCLA in Pasadena.

Gus Malzahn coached the Red Wolves that day in his lone season at the helm in Jonesboro. He took over for Hugh Freeze who bounced to Ole Miss after his only year as head coach. In 2013, Brian Harsin took the reigns from Gus for a season before replacing Chris Petersen of at Boise State.

In other words, what the Red Wolves have lacked in coaching stability, they’ve more than made up for it coaching talent. Current head coach Blake Anderson enters his fourth season with a 25 – 15 record. Rumor has it he qualifies for a statue if he makes it through year five.

In the only other meeting between the Huskers and Red Wolves in 2009, Zac Lee (remember him?) went 27/35 for 340 in leading the good guys to 38 – 9 victory.

New QB. Who dis?

It will be interesting to see what kind of numbers the new Lee puts up. As long as he’s tossing those “nice balls” that Mike Riley’s been fond of, a pedestrian final line will be just fine.

There’s no need for the Huskers to get flashy. Use the Red Wolves to work out the kinks and save the really good stuff for next week in Eugene.

And that’s when the season can really begin.

Until then, enjoy this the one. Eat too much. Have some laughs. Text those friends you haven’t heard from since the end of last season. Get pumped about Bob Diaco. Start penciling Tanner Lee into your 2018 fantasy team.

HUSKERS: 35
RED WOLVES: 7

The Big Red Fury World HQ has moved out of mom’s basement and into a tree house.

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The best worst parts of Steve Pederson’s Lost in Ambition

Steve Pederson, yes, the same Steve Pederson who crashed the proud legacy of the Nebraska Cornhuskers football program into the side of the proverbial mountain, quietly released his debut novel, Lost in Ambition.

Spanning a brisk 197 pages and a stupefying 38 chapters, Lost in Ambition is a first person story of a football coach at a crossroads in both his life and career.  We’re taken on a journey from his humble beginnings as a high school football player in small town Ohio to the sideline where he’s coaching a major college football team in the National Championship game.

When a writer tries to squeeze several decades into fewer than 200 pages, the end result is that there really isn’t much room for character development, story, or any sense of nuance that makes reading a novel an enjoyable endeavor.

To put it another way, Lost in Ambition is a pile of smoldering garbage.

Somehow, someway, Steve Pederson has managed to produce an end product that is worse than the wreckage he left behind as Nebraska’s athletic director.

I’m normally not one to take a big steaming dump on someone’s art but if a person has the delusional audacity to publish a novel that would get them laughed out of a Learning Annex class AND they happen to be the guy responsible for setting the Nebraska Cornhuskers back a solid decade, then the gloves come off. Reading this turd took three hours off my life and I’m going to get every minute back.

What follows is every best worst passage from Lost in Ambition.

Enjoy!

This is how the story begins. Captivating isn’t it?

As the clock ticks closer to kickoff, our coach isn’t worried about the big game but the drunks in the stands. But there isn’t time to dwell because we have to go on a 190 page flashback.

It doesn’t take long for the swipes at Nebraska to begin. Nine games? That’s certainly not a random number. Turns out our fictitious (and unnamed) coach was a college quarterback himself and won nine games in each of his three years at a starter. In his mind, winning nine games is the pinnacle of mediocrity.

A few pages later, our anonymous coach is back to ranting about nine games.

The first profound quote. At least we know Bill Callahan wasn’t cheating.

IS THAT AN HOMAGE TO CARL PELINI!?! Within a few confusing paragraphs, our protagonist has gone from small time graduate assistant to becoming the running backs coach at “Birmingham State.”

It’s not long before our hero discovers the seedy underworld of ‘crootin’.

This is like the whip cream bikini scene in Varsity Blues if it were reenacted by Maude and Ned Flanders. (WARNING: Wherever you are, turn up your A/C because things are going to get even steamier.)

Our second profound quote. Considering it was bad coaching by Billy C. that got Stevie P. fired so I’m not sure how this computes. At this point in the story, three seasons breeze by and our still unnamed coach takes a leap to the Power 11 Conference to become the running game coordinator at “McNally University,” located somewhere in the frozen tundra of Michigan. 

Illicit blow jobs from boosters’ wives are a McNally University specialty.

Actually, I didn’t remember, Steve. When you take a stab at writing your next novel, try to include more details that will make your characters memorable.

#SidePieceSunday is in full effect at McNally University.

Even the head coach is DTF at McNally University!

Ladies and gentlemen, the most dramatic moment in Lost in Ambition!

I think this might be another thinly veiled swipe at Nebraska.

This is the summary of McNally State’s entire regular season but a big twist is lurking in the bushes as the team heads into the Rose Bowl.

Our still unnamed coach is getting an interview to be the head coach at “Florida A&I.” We never find out what the A&I stand for.

After a clandestine first interview in an airplane hangar, our hero sneaks back to the football offices to continue prepping for the Rose Bowl and discovers his head coach is DTF anytime, anywhere.

ABC… Always Be Crootin’. That is how you win a natty.

Mansions and money. What is this? Dynasty?

It’s official! Our mystery coach is now running a program of his own.

And the first order of business is getting the local media on your side.

Vodka with cranberries? WTF? I have a feeling this reporter is a mashup of Steven M. Sipple and Lee Barfknecht.

And the second order of business is meeting your future sidepiece.

It’s about to go down! (If you haven’t noticed, Steve Pederson loves using exclamation points!)

See! He really does!

This is how long our coach with no name dwells on cheating on his wife. Why is he doing it? We never find out. He never answers his own question.

Zeke Bradshaw (one of the better character names if you can believe it) is going to be the arm that will put Florida A&I over the top!

At page 140, our big discovery is finding out that our still nameless coach is only 33-years-old.

If only Hugh Freeze could have read this book…

Zeke’s big campus visit was successful in more ways than one.

But things are rocky on the home front. Someone is one Harley ride away from ruining it all.

Uh oh. Here comes the Lawrence Phillips character to ruin a dream season.

At least some details were changed. At first, Alonzo gets kicked off the team but is hurried back onto the field after Florida A&I loses two games in a row.

But all that drama turns out to be a moot point because a few short pages later, it’s a new season and Alonzo has cleaned up his act and he and Heisman Trophy winner Zeke have led Florida A&I into the National Championship game against Stanford.

This is the most unbelievable part of the entire book.

At this point were 196 pages deep into a 197 page book. Everything has been building towards the National Championship game and these two sparse paragraphs are all we get.


Then one page later comes the most shocking twist of all in the very last sentence. Coach Tim Greene (way to steal the Mr. Big reveal from the Sex and the City series finale) is calling it a career with no remorse, except for the part where he spent the entire book telling us how remorseful he is about all the bad things he’s done as he’s worked his way up the coaching ladder.

And that, friends, is everything you didn’t want to know about Lost in Ambition.


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How to Smoke Weed in a Dorm Room and Not Get Caught

Nothing says off-season like waking up on a Saturday morning to find out a Husker has been busted for something stupid.

And the stupid isn’t necessarily the act, but sum of all parts.

Today it was revealed that another football player was cited for having a small amount of that wacky tobacky. Two things to note: 1) If you’re a Husker fan with a pulse, you should know who I’m talking about. 2) I’m not naming names because the last thing these kids need is another google search result. And besides, we’re not thirsty for clicks.

Without sparking a debate about the alleged dangers of smoking marijuana, the reason why it’s now legal in varying degrees in 29 states (including Alaska and Montana so you can’t say it’s just the damn hippies) is because people have started to figure out that it’s not exactly the devil’s weed you learned about in health class. It’s not that dangerous.

Granted, there’s that odd occasion where you run into your rock star buddy (who gets his weed from the same source as Snoop Dogg) in a Trader Joe’s parking lot and next thing you know you’re wandering the aisles for the next hour and roll up to check out with a cart full of nothing but an empty bag of chips and a tub of guacamole that’s been scraped clean. The biggest danger in that situation is coming home and facing the wrath of your lovely wife after you went to the store and plum forgot to buy groceries, even though she gave you a very detailed list. Not that I ever did this.

Here in LA, marijuana use is so ubiquitous that you can catch whiffs of the sticky icky wherever you go in public. It’s kinda like being back home in my native GI but instead of the stench of burning carcasses from the meat packing plant, you know someone nearby is smoking weed but you can’t tell who since everyone is staring at their phones. In fact, if you called the police to report such a thing, they will laugh at you and hang up the phone.

But back in Nebraska, the campus police will show right up if an over-eager RA thinks someone in their dorm has lit up a doob.

The best advice my dear mother has ever given me is that something is only illegal if you get caught.

So with that in mind, here’s how enjoy weed in your dorm room and (most likely) not get caught.

1. Know thy neighbor. Are they cool? As in do they know and respect the unspoken rule that snitches get stitches? Even squares can be cool enough to look the other way but a snitch can never be trusted.

2. Embrace modern innovations. Weed pens and edibles might not be as exciting as pulling a monster bong rip in while sunk deep into a bean bag chair but they sure are stealthy. I don’t know if dabs are easy to find in the Cornhusker state but I do know it’s pretty easy to fly the friendly skies with a stash of edibles in your carry-on bag. Just make sure to you peel off any incriminating labels before traveling with your snacks.

3. Dryer sheets are your best friend. If lack of the aforementioned modern innovations means you have to smoke weed the old fashioned way, stuff a bunch of dryer sheets (your mom put a box into your laundry supplies) into a paper towel tube and exhale your ginormous hit through a tunnel of static cling prevention. There will still be smoke but it will smell April fresh and you don’t have to worry about it wafting out the door because you already laid down a damp towel, right? Do these two things and you’re going to have to try really hard to get caught. This technique never failed in an entire year of #dormlife.

And this is where I’d like to point out I didn’t mention air freshener because if you’re not smart enough to know that one on your own you shouldn’t be smoking anything.

The best part about taking this photo was my wife asking what I was doing. For maximum performance, use an empty roll and wrap an additional dryer sheet around the end to keep the ones packed inside from fluttering out.

4. Chill, bros. Watching Wheel of Fortune while being high enough to solve the puzzles before Pat Sajak even drops a clue is exciting shit, especially when half your floor is packed into your dorm room but keep the volume to a manageable, polite level. When you’re doing something illegal, it’s best to not do anything that draws attention.

5. Keep your stash stashed. If you you ain’t using it, keep it hidden. I knew a kid in the dorms who always left his bong on his desk and often kept his door open for visitors. Or for campus police officers doing a random walk by.

6. Don’t ride dirty. Wanna make a Chipotle run now that you’ve got the munchies? Leave your contraband at home. Better yet, DON’T DRIVE ANYWHERE. Take a walk and make it an adventure or hail an Uber if you’re too lazy to hoof it. Or, you could stay in and order a pizza and pass out with a slice in your mouth and spend the next two hours eating it at glacial speed, while watching a documentary about N.W.A. on VHS. Not that I ever did this.

BONUS TIPS

Lincoln has long been rumored to issue more citations for public urination per capita than any other city in the US. This could have something to do with all the people who duck into alleys off O Street to pee after last call.

The key to peeing in public is to not look like you’re peeing. That means you don’t want to strike your urinal pose in front of a dumpster. Instead, be causal and pretend you’re talking on the phone and operate your gear with your other hand. Just be careful that you don’t dribble anything on your shoes, especially if you’re wearing flip flops. 

Ladies, I have no advice for you. Sorry.

Don’t apply for a job at Blockbuster Video. They drug test and instead of doing urine samples, they do a hair test which is impossible to beat.

Yes, that was a real thing college students worried about back in the 90s.


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Field Trip: A Visit to Vintage Red Sports Gallery

With the Spring Game kicking off in less than 24 hours, it’s about time we dusted the cobwebs off this site.

Did you miss us?

When we left off,  hopes were running high that the Huskers would leave Nashville with a victory in the Music City Bowl. That didn’t exactly happen and we’ll just leave it at that.

In the meantime, the Big Red Fury World Headquarters relocated from its Hollywood adjacent location to the hills of Northeast Los Angeles, not far from the Rose Bowl. My wife and I bought a house that included a daggum fort in the backyard. And if that wasn’t enough, it came equipped with a TV, a bar, and a Kegerator.

The new Big Red Fury World Headquarters

The previous owner, a retired Naval Aviator built this fort with his bare hands and now that it was in my care, the first order of business was getting it set up as a proper Husker hangout.

Over St. Patrick’s Day weekend I was back in Lincoln for a buddy’s wedding and on a mission to bring home some Husker collectibles.

As the luck would have it, I stumbled into a Husker store in the Haymarket that was so brand new its owner was still getting settled in.

Vintage Red Sports Gallery is nestled into the ground floor in one of the Haymarket’s many new buildings and is the creation of JC Wickstrom. It’s half vintage Husker store, half Husker museum, and 100% incredible.

Wickstrom has been obsessively and methodically collecting Husker memorabilia since he was a kid and his collection in the museum section of his store rivals anything you might see in that stadium across the road. In fact, it was so impressive that I went back for a second look instead of making a pilgrimage to Memorial Stadium before heading to the airport.  On both visits, Wickstrom was available to play tour guide and his stories were as fascinating as everything he has on display.

Here are some  of the many highlights.

If you ever feel the need to chill among Husker artifacts, Vintage Red Sports Gallery is your spot.

Everywhere you look you’ll see a piece of Husker history. Wickstrom plans to use the museum space to host signings and special events during football season.

The pink #12 jersey was game worn by Bobby Reynolds. According to Wickstrom, an equipment manager kept it as a souvenir and his young son would often wear it when dad was gone. One day, the jersey picked up a little dirt during a backyard football game and the son tossed it in the wash, thinking dad would be none the wiser. Unfortunately, he didn’t account for the possibility of the red numbers bleeding onto the white of the jersey. Whoops. Also, it should be noted that I forgot to ask Wickstrom if the kid survived.

You’re going to need to stop in and ask Wickstrom about how he came into possession of the ORIGINAL Memorial Stadium horseshoe.  It was totally legal but still required years of waiting and an Ocean’s Eleven  amount of planning to pull it off.

The 1996 Fiesta Bowl case.

NBD. Just Tommie Frazier’s Fiesta Bowl cleats complete with Fiesta Bowl dirt.

Lawrence Phillips’  and Mike Minter’s Fiesta Bowl jerseys.

This case is filled with items Mike Rozier had laying around at his mom’s house. Seriously.

The Turner Gill case. Look close and you’ll see the ‘G’ doesn’t match. Back in the day players got one home jersey and one away jersey and that was it.

This glass from the 1940 Rose Bowl is the only one known to exist.

TO’s Orange Bowl headset. Frankie’s practice jersey.

Ameer Abdullah’s Holiday Bowl uniform.

Yep. Looks legit.

Speaking of bowl games, here are the  programs from every Husker bowl game.

When I asked Wickstrom if I could shoot some photos, his only stipulation was that I had to include his all-time favorite player, Derek Brown.

Vintage Red owner JC Wickstrom shows off one of his latest finds.

The retail side of Vintage Red is loaded with one-of-a-kind items.

Nobody tell Clester Johnson that Tim hocked his jersey.

My big score from Vintage Red, a section of Memorial Stadium turf.

Vintage Red Sports Gallery is located in Lincoln at 800 Q Street Suite 103. 

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Tennessee vs Lockdown U: Your Music City Bowl Preview

Sometimes you wonder how you got somewhere. I have a feeling both Tennessee and Nebraska are wondering how they got to the Music City Bowl.

Tennessee was ranked #9 in preseason polls and picked to win the SEC East at SEC Media Days. I think people started to second guess those predictions when Tennessee went into OT in their season opener against App State. They failed to meet those high expectations and finished behind Florida in the SEC East. The Vols finished conference play with a 4-4 record and against top 25 teams they were 2-2.

The Huskers were on the other side of things. Coming off a 2015 season with a record of 6-7, they weren’t ranked or expected to do much at all. At one point this season they were ranked #7 and on a seven game win streak. They played well with the Badgers and lost in OT, which was a heart breaker. The season kind of fell apart due to injuries after that but my point is that they weren’t ever supposed to be ranked #7 at any point. Neither of these teams were supposed to have either of these seasons. Which, I think is why we all love college football.

Now that I have set the scene, let’s let loose and get delusional like only true fans can do.

Nebraska vs. Tennessee is one of those games that I should probably watch at home by myself because I have already talked myself into a Husker win, and talking yourself into that before the game starts usually leads to a bunch of cuss words being yelled at a TV.

Tennessee was pretty banged up earlier in the season but looks to be mostly healed up and their starters are ready to go. The bad news is that the Huskers can’t say the same. Recently the Huskers have lost QB1, an irreplaceable mustached WR, a safety that can’t bother to attend class, a redshirt freshman WR, and a few recruits. I would like to share something with you. You gotta be down to get up. Any seasoned gambler would know this is the part where you say “I’m due.”

And the Huskers are due.

Tennessee is definitely beatable. Everybody thought they were going to bust out some impressive run this year and talked them up until they went into OT with Appetizer State. They were pretty consistent in the first few games with come from behind wins that every gambler will remember, with that Tennessee – Florida game being especially brutal. But, then there is the bad Tennessee who lost to Vanderbilt in their last game. They are kind of like the Huskers in the way that you just don’t know which team is going to show up.

The Tennessee QB, Josh Dobbs, has thrown for 2,655 yards and 26 touchdowns this season. You might think that sounds like trouble when you look at Ryker Fyfe who has thrown for 315 yards and 2 touchdowns. No, no, no. What that tells me is that Ryker is fresh. Josh Dobbs sounds like he is probably tired and worn out. Ryker is just getting going, Dobbs is ready to retire. I like our odds in the QB category.

Jalen Hurd, Tennessee’s best RB got the hell out of there and flat out left the team midway through the season when a game against Nebraska started to look possible. So they don’t even have their best RB. Again, I like that. I would talk about the Tennessee WRs but that would mean that I don’t have any faith in our defense and it’s not called Lockdown U for nothing, folks. So I’m not going to talk about wide receivers that aren’t even going to touch the ball, that would be a waste of my time. I’m also not that concerned about the Tennessee defense considering UK scored 36 on them and then Mizzou scored 37 actual points. And they lost to VANDERBILT. Even Mizzou beat Vanderbilt! That tells me that their defense is actually nonexistent at times.

To be honest, now I’m even more convinced of a 10 win season. Huskers by two touchdowns. #GBR


For real time hot takes from Leslie, follow her on Twitter- @lesmicek

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