Dear Coach Riley,
Welcome to Nebraska and the Cornhuskers. After we wrapped our head around your out-of-the-blue hiring, we must say we became very interested and excited to see what you can do for the Big Red.
Moving from Oregon to Nebraska will no doubt require a bit of readjustment on your part. To help make the transition as seamless as possible, we’ve taken the liberty of writing up a handy little Nebraska Survival Guide for you.
THE NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS – Your new team is the biggest attraction in America’s 37th state by a country mile. Note that we didn’t qualify that statement by saying “sports attraction.” To explain just how obsessed the state is with the Big Red would require 5,000 words to barely scrape the surface. You know how bananas those hippies in Portland go for cruelty-free artisan vegan cheese? Multiply that excitement by a factor of 100 and you’re getting close to how the average Nebraskan feels about the Huskers.
Be careful with the alternate uniform thing. While we think it’s a great change of pace to see a fresh look once a year, any deviation from the classic scarlet and cream will bring out the fashion critics and staunch traditionalists. Or, you could simply order adidas to stop making borderline hideous uniforms.
MEMORIAL STADIUM – Those empty seats at Reser Stadium when the Ducks were in Corvallis last week? Not going to happen at your new home. Not even Bill Callahan could stop a sellout streak that currently stands at 340 consecutive games. When it began back in 1962, the stadium’s capacity was just a little bigger than Reser Stadium at 48,000.
Now 87,000 fans pack the joint every game day. Many will stand up the whole time, except for the people on the west side of the stadium. That’s where the blue hairs (old folks) all sit. Try not to complain about them too much. They write big checks in exchange for getting to complain about all the hip hop and yell witty things such as “Sit down. We can’t see through you.” when young and rowdy fans (anyone under 75) make the mistake of sitting among the elderly.
The student section is in the south end zone. Be cool to those kids. In fact, be really nice to them. Bring them donuts before games. The seating is general admission and the most rabid fans will sleep on the sidewalk the night before games to lock down a front row seat. They’ve got a such a good thing going with the Iron N Club right now that we’re very tempted to go back to school and deal with being the creepy old guy in class just so we can take part in the fun.
And please, try not to poop your pants the first time you do the Tunnel Walk.
TOM OSBORNEDo whatever you have to do to get on this man’s good side. Grease him with a Cabela’s gift card if you have to. If you can get him to vouch for you, you’ll be way ahead of the game. A few years ago he ran for governor (after several terms in Congress) and Nebraskans decided to vote for the other guy in hopes that T.O. would return to the Athletic Department. He’s also on the College Football Playoff committee though the can’t “technically” try to “influence” the voting when it comes to the Huskers.
Yes. That really is the quarterback who lead the Huskers to glory in the mid-90’s. He is not a player’s overly enthusiastic uncle trying to pull your leg. If he ever goes on a Twitter rampage about any standards you’re not living up to, just ask him how his coaching career went.
This skinny guy who looks like a Limp Bizkit enthusiast anchored the Huskers’ defensive line for all three national championship seasons in the 90’s. What can we say? Heroin is a hell of a drug. But it’s not as strong as the human spirit. Jason kicked the smack and turned his life around for the better. If you know anyone struggling with addiction, we can personally attest that his book can really be an inspiration. In the photo above, he’s “throwing the bones” the universal symbol for someone-on-the-other-team-just-got-destroyed.
When BYU comes to town to kickoff next season, call a play on their first possession that results in their quarterback being decapitated. We’re not joking. Like, the guy’s head really gets separated from the rest of his body. Yes, it’s rude and may result in having to forfeit the game but if you can pull it off, Jason will gladly do your yard work for the duration of your stay in Lincoln.
If you see this man working out in your weight room, don’t you dare accuse him of sneaking in. The damn place is named after him. Maybe you remember him from his high school days in Oregon? Even if you don’t, it’s best to let Suh have whatever he wants.
If a little dude reports for spring practice with his helmet and pads, you are not being punk’d. His name is Jack. He’s part of the team and he can motor. Maybe you’ve seen his highlight reel?
LARRY THE CABLE GUY
This is the Huskers’ celebrity fan base. Good luck with that. Actually, Dan (yes, that’s his real name) is a great guy and a huge supporter. Don’t know if you saw it, but he was so excited about your arrival that he was tweeting rational, complete and fully punctuated sentences.
LINCOLN –Your new home may be five times bigger than Corvallis but don’t think you can simply disappear in the big city. Every move you make will be closely monitored and reported. Did you know Jim Tressel was spotted in Lincoln by multiple sources throughout the week and he wasn’t even in town? That’s how closely fans watch things. Even when you’re in Ohio, you’re really in Lincoln.
The best part of Lincoln for a newcomer is that the streets are laid out on a grid system. Lettered streets run east – west with “O” being the dividing line between the north and south side of town. Numbered streets go north and south. As long as you don’t travel outside of the alphabet, Lincoln is the easiest city in the world to navigate. If some kids invite you to a kegger at 16th and K, those are all the coordinates you need.
THE NEBRASKA STATE CAPITOL- You’re not imagining things. Everyone thinks it looks like a giant penis. Some of its popular nicknames are The Penis of the Plains, The Hard-on of The Heartland, The Meat of the Midwest, The Dick of Downtown, The Cock of the Countryside, The Phallus of the Farmland, The Schlong of The City, the list goes on… Inside the Capitol is where America’s only unicameral state legislature does its work.
YIA-YIA’S – Best pizza in town. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
THE NIGHT BEFORE LOUNGE – While the downtown location is convenient, Shaker’s is worth the drive. The last time we were at The Night Before, a dancer answered a phone call from her kid while on-stage. We are not making that up.
OMAHA – About 50 miles to the east is Nebraska’s largest city. It’s a chunk smaller than Portland. The good news for you is that neither of its big colleges have football teams, unlike that Eugene place just up the road from your old stomping grounds. UNO (aka University of No Opportunity) cut its football program and Creighton only has a basketball team to boast about. You’ll find there’s a section of fans who split their loyalty between Husker football and Creighton basketball. Never listen to a single word these people say.
If you need help with your finances, find a guy named Warren who lives there. He apparently has a knack for that sort of stuff.
BEAVER CROSSING – If you ever get homesick, there’s a little slice of home about 35 miles west of Lincoln.
THE MEDIA – As we said earlier, your new team is the state’s main event and as such it requires dozens of reporters to cover your every move. Thanks to an unquenchable thirst for Husker news, the journalism industry is staying alive and well in Nebraska. (At least when it comes to the Huskers.) All those people who were at your introductory press conference will be there every week. (Free sandwiches draw them in like moths to a flame.)
Here’s who you need to know-
While he can seem easily confused by technology, Tom is still the gold standard for Husker beat writers. For the big-monied boosters out west who still prefer to read their news to be in print the day after it happens, his word is gospel. If you can refrain from ever passing the ball on second and 1, you’ll stay in his good graces for a longtime.
Sam is the most talented and consistently rational writer on the Husker beat. He could write for the New Yorker if he wanted to. He calls things how he sees them and his opinion doesn’t pendulum from week to week. If you want to blow his mind, talk movies with him sometime. Anything from Paul Thomas Anderson, the Coen Brothers or Richard Linklater would be a good starting point. If you lead with Lars von Trier, he might get suspicious.
STEVEN M. SIPPLE
The guy at your press conference who looks like he slept in his car (he did and it’s a good story) goes by the nickname Sip. His office is two arm punts from yours so if you ever need to get some news out quick, hit him up. If you need to get some news out really quick, take him out a few times and he’ll give you his log in credentials so you can write what you want him to say yourself. In all seriousness, Sip really knows his stuff and is a solid reporter.
Dirk is like the old guy Kane from Poltergeist 2. He’ll show up on your porch with good intentions but is really just biding his time before he unleashes hell. If he looked tired at your press conference, it’s because he was up all night breaking down game film from your time with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to find tendencies in your coaching methods and demeanor that can be exploited at a later date. As the “Nebraska Sportswriter of the Year,” you need to show this man respect. He had to beat out 12 other writers to earn that title. To the “serious” Husker bloggers this man is Tyler Durden. They’ll parrot whatever he says and defend his honor to the death.
Sean is your nosy neighbor who chopped down a 50-year-old oak tree in his backyard so that it’s easier to keep tabs on you. His sources’, sources have sources, so good luck keeping anything under wraps.
Nebraska fans can be so nice that it’s alarming. They can also be so vindictive they’ll secretly record a private conversation and sit on it for a couple years before leaking it to Deadspin. In their eyes, there’s no such thing as running the ball too much or scoring too many points. Should your team ever make a bad play, make a good play ASAP.
If you continue to have your practices open to the public, don’t be surprised if they show up. All of them.
HUSKERMAX – When doomsday preppers need a break from organizing canned goods down in their bunkers, they like to chat in the Huskermax forums. Don’t ever look inside. It can be a dark and scary place that makes moon landing conspiracy theorists seem sane and rational.
I-80 – Nebraska’s mighty interstate that cuts through the middle of the state. If you ever need to test your sanity, drive the length of it some time. Even when you’re not on drugs, crossing the same river five or six times will make you feel like you’re hallucinating.
GRAVEL ROADS – You’re traveling down one of Nebraska’s many gravel roads while on the hunt for the next great lineman and you’re about to cross paths with another vehicle, what do you do?
You lift your index finger off the steering wheel as a means of saying hello and nothing more. If you don’t lift your finger, that farmer will flip a u-turn and chase you down to find out what your problem is.
TORNADOES – If sirens start wailing like the North Koreans are attacking, seek shelter in the nearest basement. They’re easy to find. All houses in Nebraska have basements.
CORN – Can’t miss it. It’s everywhere. The scientific term for the exact amount is “Holy fucking shit, there’s a lot of corn in Nebraska.”
MOUNTAINS AND TREES – Believe it or not, virtually all five of the trees you see in Nebraska were planted by hand which lead to the birth of Arbor Day. If you want to see trees and mountains like back home, drive west on I-80 seven or eight hours. Hang a left for Colorado or continue straight for Wyoming.
SUMMER – It gets so hot you’ll want to carry a spatula so you can peel your balls from your leg.
WINTER – It gets so cold your face will hurt. Like real, genuine pain. And there won’t be a snowflake in sight. The place is like a frozen desert.
SPRING – The second Tuesday in May.
FALL – The third Sunday in October.
BOOSTER’S WIVES – Stay away from them. The same goes for your defensive coordinator, especially him. Whoever that may be. (Please, please, please say Ed Orgeron.)
RUNZA – A big, beefy Twinkie and the official sandwich of Nebraska when the McRib isn’t in season. Go for the Swiss cheese and mushroom.
POP – It’s what Nebraska folk call soda. If you ask for a soda, you’ll be accused of being a Prius driving city slicker. Oh wait.
If you become as popular as the basketball coach, check your finger for a ring because you probably won a championship.
Best of luck, Coach and Go Big Red!