All posts by Todd Munson

Colorado: Game Day Pep Talk

It’s 22 minutes until the clock strikes midnight in the Cornhusker State and game day officially arrives. By the end of the afternoon, another chapter will be written about Nebraska’s history with Colorado.

Here in Los Angeles, the Dodgers are trying to battle their way back against the Giants. We live close enough to Dodger Stadium to see a quartet of palm trees that line its outer perimeter from the top of our backyard. The tickets we had for tonight’s game were sold on StubHub last week because seeing a battle between the National League’s fiercest rivals does nothing to get my pulse racing when Nebraska and Colorado is on-deck for Saturday afternoon.

Plus, I need my Big Red beauty rest.

To say that Husker fans are excited for this reckoning is an understatement. I’m still hobbling around from playing tennis three days ago but am so jacked for this game I know I could run through a brick wall should the need arise.

This is the day we’ve all been looking forward to since Colorado pulled a W out of Ralphie’s butt last year in Lincoln. How differently things would have gone if last season had started off with a win for the good guys is irrelevant now but BS penalties and injury inducing cheap shots on a quarterback’s knee will always linger in a fanbase’s craw.

It goes without saying that confidence would be a lot higher heading into kickoff had the Huskers trounced South Alabama the way we expected them to last week. Starting the year off with the shitty win of the season (hopefully there’s only one) can be a good motivator for the team. Plus, it makes things a lot more exciting for all of us.

Soon we’ll find out if those week one miscues were a fluke (I think they were) and we’ll get to see if Wan’dale Robinson is the real deal. (I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist but I have a suspicion he was used just enough last week to get his feet wet and give Colorado enough film to be nervous about what he’s capable of.)

More than anything though, game day in Boulder is going to be an afternoon for Husker Nation to show the college football world the Big Red is on the way back to where it belongs. If you’ve been following the mass migration by land and air into Colorado, you know the scene is already lit. Seriously, Husker fans drank a Pearl Street bar dry by 8pm on a Friday night.

The three dozen or so Colorado fans that didn’t sell off their tickets are going to be in for a rude awakening tomorrow when Folsom Field is transformed into Memorial Stadium West.

Colorado had their chance last year but it’s time for the Buffaloes to get a stern reminder about who wore the pants in the conference rivalry that was never really a rivalry. Yes, they got in a few shots and damaged a few childhoods in the late eighties and early nineties (Eric Bieniemy was right behind the Boz in my book) but when you look at the historical win/loss record, you’ll notice Colorado has won only 8 times in the last 43 meetings. That’s hardly a rivalry. Colorado is annoying neighbor at best.

And later today that annoying neighbor will be put in his place.

The Huskers got this one and let’s enjoy every minute of it.

GBR.

 

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Breaking Down Mark Kiszla’s “Hug a Husker” Column

It wouldn’t be game week against Colorado if some highfalutin sportswriter from the Denver Post took a pot shot at Husker Nation.

With Woody Paige being put out to pasture by the Post in 2016, this year’s honor falls to Mark Kiszla, a sportswriter who looks like he keeps more than one bootleg Phish CD in his trusty Subaru, which he takes up into the mountains every summer for an annual pilgrimage to see Big Head Todd and the Monsters at Red Rocks.

In his column, which you can read here, Kiszla kicks things off with a joke – a smart move, and one right out of Tom Osborne’s playbook during his weekly press conferences back in the day.

Hey, Buffs. It won’t be easy. But as the Bugeaters return to Folsom Field for the first time since 2009, kindly refrain from the Nebraska jokes. 

Here in Colorado, we’re better than this: “How do you know the toothbrush was invented in Nebraska? Anywhere else, it would’ve been called a teethbrush.”

I think Kiszla is trying to say that Colorado fans are better than making jokes at Nebraska’s expense. The kind of jokes that are such an embedded part of the public domain that you can google toothbrush teethbrush joke and get 11 million results.

I know the robber barons running the Denver Post these days don’t provide the most lavish budgets but surely Kiszla isn’t under such sweatshop like conditions that he doesn’t have time to pop an edible and think of an original joke.

But there’s no time to wait around for that gummy to hit, we gotta move right into the crux of his column:

…I humbly suggest a new theme to honor this rivalry:

Give a Husker a hug.

Yep. That’s it. Right there. Give a Husker a hug.

When you think about it, Kiszla’s idea isn’t so far fetched. There are going to be thousands of hugs handed out at Folsom Field this Saturday.

And they’re all going to be happening between fellow Husker fans.

If you’ve paid any attention to the lead up to this game, it sure sounds like there won’t be anyone inside the stadium affiliated with Colorado aside from the team itself and the Coors Light vendors. (BTW, did you know the nickname “Silver Bullet” was coined by a University of Nebraska student?)

Then we get to the best paragraph of Kiszla’s piece:

And that’s fine by Colorado athletic director Rick George, who crowed the renewal of hostilities between the Buffs and Huskers will be the biggest revenue producing game in school history. 

Holy buffalo chip! You mean a hosting a game against Nebraska is going to be an economic benefit to the University of Colorado? Shut the front door. Maybe the university would have more money if it didn’t have to go all Crazy Gideon and slash ticket prices by 40% in a sad attempt to lure students through the gates.

And after a little more word salad to make his word count, Kiszla pulls off his game plan to start strong and finish stronger with his most outlandish whopper yet…

Give the Huskers a hug. 

Goodness knows, after the embarrassment of losing to CU two years in a row, they’re going to need it.

OK. Maybe he did take an edible and it kicked in by the end. That’s the only way you can explain an ending like that.

GBR.

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South Alabama: Game Day Pep Talk

Husker Fam,

Well, we did it. We made it to game day.

The day that we never thought would get here after nearly ten long and lonely months has finally arrived.

A little later today, 2018’s best 4 – 8 team will be taking the field to kickoff their 2019 campaign against South Alabama.

It’s not the Alabama any of us want but it’s a start. If the Huskers can get the ball rolling and knock off the South Alabama Jaguars tomorrow (and let’s face it, it’s not much of an if), that will be a good first step on a journey towards a bigger goal that will eventually end with a face-off against Alabama. You know, the one that’s a dynasty reminiscent of Husker teams from the days of yore.

Since the whistle blew in Iowa City last November, all of us have endured zingers and insults from friends and foes aligned with other colleges.

“How can someone endure back-to-back 4 and 8 seasons?” they ask.

“How can we not?” we reply.

We’ve all been patiently waiting and biding our time as the light at the end of the tunnel grows bigger and brighter.

We’re going to get there eventually but until then, all we can do is sit back and enjoy the ride.

It’s about to become a lot of fun.

GBR and LFG

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It’s Getting to be About That Time

This past Monday was a little different than the three dozen or so Mondays that preceded it.

I was wide awake 20 minutes before my first alarm and in the mood to run through a brick wall.

And that can only mean one thing.

Game week is finally here.

And what a magical week it has been.

Long dormant group texts have returned from the dead, buddies who are alumni of other colleges have reached out from far and wide to get a read on how things are looking for the Huskers in 2019, and most importantly, plans have been made to meet friends I haven’t seen since last November at a bar at 8:30am on a Saturday morning.

There’s nothing like the anticipation and excitement leading to a season opener. It’s as if you’re stuck in Groundhog Day but instead you’re eight-years-old and living the night before Christmas for an entire week.

My personal It’s a Wonderful Life moment happened in the back of an Uber on Tuesday afternoon. The driver asked if I was a football fan. I said college. Then he asked what school and I said Nebraska. And then he said oh, damn the Huskers are gonna be good and launched into rant about USC that lasted for five miles. The only time he pumped the verbal brakes was when I interrupted to ask if he had time to drive me to Iowa so I could have some in-person words with the Hawkeye fan who talking smack to me on Twitter at that exact moment. Then we both had a laugh and wished each other good luck.

It feels so good to be back.

Enjoy the latest Big Red Fury pump up video and we’ll be back soon with some real content. GBR.

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A Thanksgiving Appreciation for the Best 4-7 Team in the Country

Happy Thanksgiving Husker Fam, 

As I plop down on the couch to write this on Thanksgiving Eve, the Michigan State game is playing on the TV for the second night in a row for no better reason than it’s my favorite Husker game in years. 

A couple seasons down the road, this game won’t even be a blip in college football history but in the annals of Husker lore, it will be forever remembered as the one where the Big Red ship was finally righted. 

It takes a special group of fans to pack a stadium on a bitterly cold November morning to see their 3-7 team play a meaningless game but Husker Nation showed up like they’ve done for the past 56 years. On this particular Saturday, our never ending loyalty was rewarded by watching a team with nothing to play for put it all on the line and find a way to win. 

And what a team win it was.

When the final whistle blew, never have I felt so proud of a 4-7 team in my life.

PHOTO CREDIT: Omaha World-Herald

The Big Ten’s most explosive offense suddenly couldn’t score?

No prob. The Blackshirts had their back.

Need a true freshman kicker to set not one but two personal records for career long field goals in the span of five minutes off the clock?

It’s cool. The kid transformed into a sure footed sniper.

No matter how the season ends tomorrow, this team is always going to hold a special place in my heart because these guys proved they truly wanted to be Huskers and put in the work on and off the field to prove it. Even in the unlikely event of a loss, we’re going to have a coach who won’t spend the postgame press conference challenging the media to a fight or daring his boss to fire him. And he certainly won’t make worn out excuses for why his team came up short on the scoreboard.

Today, let’s all take a moment to give thanks for the better days that are ahead for Husker Nation.

GBR 

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An Open Letter to Colorado and Iowa Fans 

Hey there Husker neighbors to the east and west,

I just wanted to drop a quick note to share how delighted I am with the interest that your respective fanbases have shown towards @BigRed_Fury this season.

Every week without fail, fresh rounds of zingers (some of them are almost funny even) get lobbed into @BigRed_Fury’s mentions following the Cornhuskers’ latest miscue on the field.

How y’all found @BigRed_Fury I’ll never know, but I’m flattered that y’all take the time to write to show that you care.

Because I sure don’t care about either of you.

Even if the Huskers find a way to do the impossible and lose to Northwestern to move to 0-6 on the year, it’s not going to bother me because this season is a down to the foundation rebuilding project. And if we go down the road a few years and discover Scott Frost isn’t the chosen one, big deal. There will be a new coach and I will still be a Husker fan.

Like Bane being born into the darkness, I was born into Husker Nation. I was molded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a man.

You know what my earliest Husker memory is?

Seeing them lose the 1984 Orange Bowl and a National Championship to Miami. In one night I fell in love with the Fumblerooski and endured the heartbreak of my team coming up short on the biggest stage. When you’ve experienced your team suffering the worst possible outcome before even getting the faintest whiff of what a victory feels like, it fundamentally changes a person.

But that’s not the only Natty I’ve seen the Huskers lose.

Nearly 10 years to the day later, I got to watch the Huskers lose another National Championship at the Orange Bowl. This time around Florida State was the opponent and the game was even more of a heart breaker thanks to a Seminole TD that should have been ruled a goal line fumble and a missed last second field goal that would have won the game for the Big Red and left Bobby Bowden soaking wet.

Then eight years after that I got to see the Huskers lose yet another National Championship at the dastardly hand of the Miami Hurricanes. I was in the third row, straddling the 50 yard line on the Huskers’ side of the field of the Rose Bowl for that one and it remains the most disappointing game of my life. 

So what’s this all add up to?

In my lifetime I’ve seen the Huskers LOSE more National Championships than Iowa and Colorado have played for combined during the same stretch.

And I’ve also seen them win three titles, which according to my math is exactly two more than the Colorado Buffaloes and the Iowa Hawkeyes have won.

When you come at me to heckle me about the Huskers losing to Troy, please know that a game like that doesn’t even make a ripple in my pool of Husker heartbreak. It means nothing to me.

Your tweets can’t hurt me because I’m already dead inside.

Your College Football Buddy,

Todd


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The Big Red Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption opened in theatres September 23, 1994. 

The following afternoon, the Huskers rolled Pacific 70-21 in front of the hometown crowd. 

While we all know how that year turned out for the Big Red, Shawshank was mostly overlooked at the box office and during award season as Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction took home most of the hardware. 

It wasn’t until a few years later that it began to receive the acclaim it missed the first time around. Thanks to nearly daily showings on basic cable that are still running strong today, The Shawshank Redemption has cemented its status as very arguably one of the greatest films ever made and currently occupies the number one spot on IMDB’s list of the top 250 movies. 

“Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

But we’re not here to do a dissertation on the legacy of Shawshank.

We’re here to talk about a theory.

It’s called the Shit Tunnel Theory. 

I can’t tell you exactly when I came up with the it but I can tell you I was on the couch watching Shawshank for probably the 100th time and was faded enough to have an epiphany that changed my outlook on life.

Allow me to set it up. 

According to Shawshank lore, Andy started tunneling his way to freedom with his tiny rock hammer two years into his 19 year stretch. That’s 17 years of chipping through the concrete wall of his prison cell piece-by-piece. An estimate from someone a lot smarter than me put Andy’s progress at 1/64th of an inch per day, or about the thickness of your fingernail. 

So after 17 long years Andy final breaks through and has to face one final crucible-The Shit Tunnel. In a film that’s full of cruel moments, this was the cherry on top of a turd sundae. 

But Andy give up?

Not a chance. 

He grabbed a rock, broke through that pipe, and dove right in. He charged through that “river of shit,” to quote Red, like he was a plumber named Mario on a mission to save a princess. It was 500 yards to freedom and after all he’d been through he was not going to stopped by a Shit Tunnel.

Now if we can go back to me on the couch for a moment, it was during this breakout scene that I realized no matter what goal you’re working towards, there’s always, without fail, going to be an unexpected obstacle that pops up when you have the finish line in sight. Even if it’s not a literal Shit Tunnel, the concept is the same. If you have something you want to achieve, you gotta pay the price by conquering the Shit Tunnel.

Husker fam, if Memorial Stadium is our Shawshank, we have just entered the Shit Tunnel. 

So what if the Huskers leave Wisconsin with an L and an 0-5 record for the first time since who knows when? It’s already been a miserable decade and half, what’s another year at this point?

All this losing now won’t mean shit if hang onto the hope and belief that better days are ahead. Sometimes you just gotta hold your breath and barrel down that Shit Tunnel towards where the light should be. 

Go Big Red. 


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Sunday Morning Hot Takes: Troy

Does losing to Troy suck?

Yes.

Am I mad about losing to Troy?

Eh, not really. 

It feels weird to type that because any and every Husker loss is supposed to be an end of the world gut punch but this year feels different, even if it starts out with a big pair of scarlet L’s that should have been W’s. 

It’s 11:45pm and I’ve spent the last hour charting Husker wins and losses because that’s what you do when you’re old. You make spreadsheets on a Saturday night and you’re happy about it because it means you didn’t have to go anywhere. 

Going from today all the way back to the year 2000, the Huskers have lost 85 games under five different coaches. At this point what’s the big deal about chalking up another loss? Granted, 85 losses is such an unbelievably high number that I was convinced Excel’s auto sum feature was lying to me. I added up nearly 20 years of losses by hand twice only to discover that Excel was right on the money when it spat out the brutal truth.

To put this another way, this year’s freshman class at Dear Old Nebraska U has been alive to experience 85 losses. When I stepped on campus as a freshman, the Huskers had amassed all of 40 in my lifetime. When I stepped off campus five years later, that loss total had grown to 46 but they also picked up three National Championships during that stretch and changed head coaches for the first time in 25 years. 

What does all this mean?

It means that the latest crop of Huskers fans have never known a team to be good in the sense that us old-timers have.

During the game at our watch site, I had the slightly depressing epiphany that I’m officially old enough to be old. It hit me when the youngest Husker fan at our table replied with a Keanu level “Whoa” when he learned I attended college back in 90s. I felt like my grandpa spinning yarns about life before television as I explained to the kid there was indeed a time when the Huskers didn’t lose. “We didn’t have cell phones or email addresses but goddamnit the Huskers were good.”  

By the time I was finished, the kid was in such awe that his breakfast pizza with gluten-free crust was left dangling from his mouth. 

No matter how this season shakes out, I think the best thing us olds can do is keep an optimistic front for the youngins that the Huskers will eventually find a way to get better. They have to. We finally landed the one coach who knows our wild and weird culture better than anyone and if we turn on him before he has a chance to get rolling we might as well disband the football program. 

It’s ride or die time, homies. 

Random (and Potentially Unpopular) Opinion:

This week’s Tunnel Walk was set to Let Me Clear My Throat. If we want to exorcise this team of all its past demons, then we need to delete the definitive song from the Mike Riley era off the stadium playlist. Sorry, Dj Kool.

Troy Summed Up in one Tweet: 

Larry the Cable Guy: Voice of Reason 

ScoFroFroYo Watch:

Imma paint a little picture for this week’s ScoFroFroYo Watch.

Hours have passed since the final whistle against Troy. The roar of 90,000 Husker fans inside Memorial Stadium has long faded away. The only sound to break the ghostly silence is a big red bus idling outside the stadium. (For the purposes of this story, the bus is large enough to fit the entire team and Coach Frost is pulling double duty as the driver.) 

An unmarked stadium door opens and a dejected Husker team begins to file out and head towards the bus with their heads hanging low and eyes focused on the ground. Coach Frost is the last one to board and slides into the driver’s seat. He takes a quick glance at his team but he doesn’t make eye contact. He only looks at them out of his obligation to not leave anyone behind.

He slips the bus into gear and it jumps forward to begin the journey home.

After a few minutes, the dejected player’s faces begin to brighten as they see the glow of a TCBY sign off in the distance. The anticipation builds as the bus moves closer and reaches its crescendo when Coach Frost flips the turn signal to indicate a stop for yogurt is imminent. 

He begins to turn the wheel and the bus responds accordingly. Then, with the deftness that only an option QB who led his team to a National Championship could have, he jukes the bus out of the impending turn into the TCBY parking lot and continues on its original course. 

As the players look out the window and watch the TCBY fade off into the distance, Coach Frost clinically looks at his team via the rear view mirror and says, “TCBY is for winners.” 


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Sunday Night Hot Takes: Colorado

Welcome to the first installment of Sunday Night Hot Takes for the 2018 season.

Like we do most every Sunday, what will follow is an assortment of random thoughts both deep and not so deep, I guess you could call those shallow thoughts.

Anyway…

How the game began… 

With 100+ Los Angeles Husker fans packed into our new watch site and huddled around each other’s phones because ABC insisted on showing whatever stupid game that came before it all the way to the bitter end.

The game finally came on just in time to catch the Huskers looking pretty good until they fumbled the ball away near Colorado’s red zone.

No worries. It’s the first game. This stuff happens. And then it happened again on their next drive and just like that Colorado was out to a 14-0 lead.

But then something magical happened.

The Huskers responded by rattling off an eight play, 75 yard touchdown drive. And that was only the beginning.

Over the course of the next two hours or so, a lot of laughs were had, many high fives were slapped, and more than a few rounds of drinks were ordered as all of us watched in awe as the Huskers imposed their will on the Buffaloes.

It was shaping up to be a magnificent Saturday.

How the game ended… 

It’s hard to be encouraged by what would normally be a soul crushing last minute loss to a former bitter rival but when you factor in:

It was the first game of the season under a new-to-the-players coaching staff.

True freshman Adrian Martinez stepped onto the field for his first real game in two years. While he looked like a true freshman at moments, he also looked like a world beating 5th year senior. He’s going to be a lot of fun.

The Killa Bees had SEVEN SACKS. Not to beat a dead horse that was buried months ago but last year’s defense had 14 sacks all season.

Colorado received more gifts from the Huskers and the refs than a Kardashian on Christmas and they still had to dig deep into Ralphie’s ass to pull out a win.

The mistakes that were made should all be easily correctable. I have a feeling there won’t be too many more dropped touchdown passes.

Larry the Cable Guy: Voice of Reason 

What I’d like to see next week: 

Adrian Martinez back on the field.

Andrew Bunch, aka Bunch Money, have a chance for some playing time that’s not due to injury.

The running back situation begins to sort itself out. It felt a little like they were holding an in-game audition on Saturday.

The Killa Bees force their first turnovers of the year. A couple of pass breakups should have been caught.

New Feature: Did the Huskers Earn a Postgame Trip to TCBY? 

For the last three years, our signature gag to sum up the state of the Huskers was Mike Riley’s Balloon Watch.

We had a few glorious ones, like the day after Michigan State had their run at a perfect season derailed by a miraculous comeback.

But in the end, all that mattered is how Riley left the program he and his staff inherited.

Now that we have FHCMR’s last appearance out of the way, it’s time to unveil our new feature.

Say hello to the ScoFro FroYo Watch.

The ScoFro FroYo Watch can be explained like this: If you happened to be a frozen yogurt enthusiast who lived in Grand Island during the early 90s, you had a better than average chance of having a weekend Scott Frost sighting at the TCBY located next to the Grand Island Mall. The guy loved himself some TCBY and so did I. As someone who grew up in GI during the early 90s, a trip to TCBY was an event right up there with Taco Tuesday at Taco John’s.

I still get goosebumps just thinking about the heart stopping  suspense when my mom would call to ask what the daily flavors were.* You could live a thousand lifetimes in that moment of silence. If they told her White Chocolate Mousse was on the lineup, my brother and I would be in the car before she hung up the phone.

[*You see, kids, back in the early 90s, there wasn’t an “internet” to look things up on and yogurt places didn’t off a magical rainbow of made up flavors. You got to choose between vanilla or something else and you were happy.]

So the question is: Did the Huskers earn a trip to TCBY?

You’re damn right they did.

This team is a full 180 from last year’s squad and outplayed the shit out of Colorado. If the Akron game wasn’t canceled, there’s no way they would have lost. By the time this four game series wraps up in 2024, the final tally will be Colorado 1, Nebraska 3.

While the Huskers did earn a hard fought trip to TCBY, it’s not a celebratory trip. As the team enjoys their frozen treat, I imagine there would be a candid and productive discussion about how to use this loss as a lesson to learn from so that it never happens again.

And while they earned the yogurt, they did not earn sprinkles. We’ll save those for when they return from the Big House with a win in a couple weeks.


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