Category Archives: Huskers

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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Announcing the Big Red Fury Red Elephant Christmas Spectacular

Like, for real. Can someone please explain how exactly the wheels fell off the Big Red wagon the last couple of weeks?

Due to relocating the Big Red Fury World HQ to a new top secret location that almost qualifies as Rose Bowl adjacent, I’ve kind of lost track of what’s been happening with the Huskers (seriously people, don’t ever move) but here’s a rundown of the awesome news I’ve been able to catch.

Unless he gets a last minute leg transplant, Tommy Armstrong probably won’t be playing in the Music City Bowl.  In other words, it’s ride or die time for Ryker.

Noted hot pants wearer Jordan Westerkamp is out due to a torn meniscus. Granted that injury is probably not at all related to his aversion to knee pads but why not do what you can to protect the important goods?

Thanks for the all the memories and good times, roomies.

A bunch of prized recruits decided to peace out… but Keyshawn Jr. didn’t!

And the most baffling of all… senior captain Nate Gerry was ruled ineligible for the Music City Bowl due to flunking some (or all) of his classes, if he even bothered to go in the first place (depending on which rumor you believe).

How in the name of Bob Devaney is it even possible for a student athlete to straight up flunk classes? JFC… I didn’t even have a fraction of the academic resources that are at an athlete’s disposal during my time at Husker U. and somehow managed to graduate as a solid B- student while skipping more than my fair share of classes (and only had to retake one) during that five year span.


Now that the bad news is out of the way, let’s get to the stuff that’s really important.

On Sunday, aka Christmas Day, we’re going to have the first ever Big Red Fury Red Elephant Christmas Spectacular.

What is this, you ask?

Oh, let me tell you.

On Christmas Day, between 1 – 2pm Runza Standard Time, I’m going to tweet out some Husker trivia questions. First correct response for each one wins a red elephant gift.

What’s a red elephant gift, you ask?

Oh, let me tell you.

A red elephant is the same as a white elephant with the major difference being these gifts will be Husker themed and they will be spectacular.

That’s both a threat AND a promise.

Give @BigRed_Fury a follow on Twitter so you don’t miss out on the fun and have a perfect excuse to avoid your family for a while on Christmas Day.


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One Thing Nobody Has Mentioned About That Music City Bowl Tweet

Shortly after it was announced that the Huskers would resume their bowl game dominance over the Tennessee Volunteers in Nashville’s Music City Bowl, the bowl’s official Twitter account revealed which team it’s pulling for in a tweet that boasted not one but four exclamation marks.

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As we all know, this turned out to be a social media boo-boo straight out of 2011. Remember when Chrysler dropped an F-Bomb in a rant about Detroit drivers?

The person behind that one was quickly fired.

Luckily for the thumbs behind @MusicCityBowl, it sounds like their job is spared based on the candid mea culpa that quickly followed.

But let’s go back to the errant tweet for a closer look.

Aside from the fact that there are “social media professionals” who are as bad at using Twitter as your grandma, the tweet itself contains quite the loaded statement.

“At least my team will be in our Bowl game this year!!! go vols!

Based on the capitalization of ‘Bowl’ and ‘vols’ in lowercase, it’s clear this was a rather hastily composed thought that was sent via Facebook. (Seriously, who still connects their accounts like this?)

Then there’s the juicy bitterness of  “At least my team will be in our bowl game…” 

If that doesn’t scream college-football-fan-who-had-his-or-her-season-wrecked then I don’t know what does.

Let’s breakdown the hell the Volunteers have put their fans through this season.

After a 5-0 start that featured back-to-back wins over #19 Florida (a 28 point 4th quarter comeback that cost me a five team parlay) and #25 Georgia (a 20 point 4th quarter comeback that ended with a ridiculous Hail Mary) the wheels completely fell off Tennessee’s wagon. Over the next three Saturdays, the Volunteers tumbled from #9 all the way out of the top 25.

First there was a double-overtime loss to #8 Texas A&M (remember when they were ranked?) followed by a 49-10 dismantling by Alabama. This three week stretch of doom was capped with a 24-21 loss to South Carolina. (Does anyone even know who their coach is these days?)

Tennessee picked themselves up off the mat and crawled back into the top 25 thanks to a nice little win streak with victories over SEC softies Kentucky and Mizzou and pulled out a 55-0 squeaker against FCS juggernaut Tennessee Tech.

Then came their season finale against Vanderbilt. The Commodores sailed away with a 45-34 upset victory,  just their sixth win over the Volunteers since 1965.

And they play each other every year.

There’s not even a way to put a loss like that into context for the Huskers. If you combined the historical ineptitude of Kansas with our growing hatred for Iowa, you’d only be scratching the surface of what the Tennessee – Vanderbilt rivalry is like. It certainly doesn’t help that Vandy has won three out of the last five games either.

If you go to the Music City Bowl and someone asks if they can take your picture for the Twitter, offer them a hug. There’s a good chance their team has put them through much, much worse than how the Huskers have tortured us this season.


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It’s Already Been a Week?

The best part about being your own boss is dictating your own schedule.

A week has passed since the Huskers ended their regular season by getting taken to the woodshed by Iowa and I’m only writing about it now because, quite frankly, I didn’t want to deal with thinking about that damn game.

A season that started with so much hope and promise flat out belly flopped on the Kinnick Stadium turf. (Writing that sentence alone is giving me a serious TUMS craving. Or maybe that’s the box of cereal I had for lunch.)

Out of the Huskers’ three regular season losses, losing to Iowa by far hurt the worst and not just because it was stinkin’ Iowa.

Coming up short in overtime in a winnable game against Wisconsin stung but proved the Huskers were ready to compete with anyone in the Big Ten, for at least a week anyway.

Getting blown out 62-3  by Ohio State seven days later showed there was plenty of room for growth before being able to compete with every Big Ten team but the thing about getting trucked like that is that sometimes it’s just your turn to get eaten by the bear to paraphrase The Stranger from the Big Lebowski.

Losing to Iowa, though, was a whole new level of ugly, like getting farted on during a lap dance in a Council Bluffs strip club kind of ugly.

There was no justifiable reason for the Huskers to have even have been in a situation where that could have happened but everything that could wrong did go wrong, starting with Bad Tommy coming out to play.

Side story time…

My good buddy Marc joined us at our local Husker bar to watch his first ever Nebraska game on purpose.  He’s a die-hard USC fan and for the last three years our Dodger season tickets have been a couple rows behind his and his father’s. Marc’s meltdowns are the stuff legend in our section. He let it be known well in advance that he was looking forward to seeing myself and fellow Big Red Fury writer/Dodger fan, Leslie Micek, get heated like he does when the Dodgers blow an 8th inning lead.

Thanks to the Huskers laying an egg from the get go, our level of outward rage didn’t peaked at “disappointed grandpa,” which, if you’ve ever disappointed your grandpa, you know is the worst kind of rage. That I’m-so-mad-I-can’t-even-talk-to-you kind of rage that makes you question your very place on this Earth.

Our lack of conversation gave Marc plenty of time to observe the Huskers. He fit right in too, even yelling “holding” right on cue with everyone else who noticed penalties that the Big Ten refs are seemingly blind to.

Marc’s big observation involved the lack of creativity the Huskers’ offense.

1st down: Get stuffed with a run up the middle.
2nd down: Swing pass to the sideline that goes nowhere.
3rd down: YOLObomb that lands in a green sea of empty turf.

At one point Marc sincerely asked us if Tommy always played like he did against Iowa and how much worse the Huskers backups had to be if they weren’t getting any PT.

After explaining that Tommy was basically playing on one leg and how the holder was the emergency third string quarterback, he simply shook his head in awe that we’re able to saddle up Huskers week in and week out.

It’s what we Husker fans do. Ride or die, ya know.

On to the usual stuff…


Mike Riley’s Balloon Watch
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Oh how we didn’t miss you, flaming poop emoji.

Our Score Prediction

Honestly, I should have known the Huskers were going to be doomed thanks to the random drunk Jedi. I only wanted Chewbacca in the video but he insisted they worked as a team so I gave him $7 thinking they’d split it like a couple of Hollywood Blvd’s Spider-Men do. When we were done filming, which took exactly as long as the video above, he asked for his cut. I told him I only had a buck left and that’s all I could give him so homeboy had the audacity to pull out a Square credit card reader and had the balls to ask for $20 for his performance.

The last costumed weirdo to pull that move was a Captain America before the Miami game last year and we know how that one turned out.

You’re dead to me, Chewie.

What a Husker crowd looks like after Iowa has walked most of the room.

NUMBERS TO DEPRESS YOUR FRIENDS WITH

I don’t even want to look. Enjoy this courtside view of the Husker basketball team instead. They didn’t look to bad against UCLA.


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The Best of #IowaHateWeek

While the Big Ten rivalry between the Nebraska and Iowa is still in its infancy, Husker Twitter is doing its best to make it happen with #IowaHateWeek.

Since the final whistle of the Maryland game, zingers have been lobbed over the Missouri River 140 characters at a time.

Before you get your classiest fans in college football panties up in a bunch, keep in mind that #IowaHateWeek is all in good fun and it’s all funny because it’s all true.

Solid and timely. Next time use a current photo of Memorial Stadium though ; )

Who says millennials  contribute nothing to society?

(Oh wait. This tweet was probably written by a member of Generation Z. Haha, Millennials. You’re getting old.)

Props the Big Red Cobcast dudes for using a $5 word like celestial.

ProTip: Use 0s instead of Os to make a password stronger.

That last query is due to this…

That is a real newspaper headline and it led to this…

Good ol’ Iowa. Terrified by the guy who ate 1995 Tommie Frazier.

This one goes out to my brother and his family.  We visited them for Christmas last year and the most fascinating thing about Des Moines was that Iowa’s largest city boasted not one but TWO video stores and they were BOTH hiring.

If you get punk’d by a squirrel, give up.

This one gets self-promoted solely on the basis of how much work it was to hit Google Image Search gold and find an Iowa fan using a computer.

The most disgusting part of that photo is the black and yellow overalls. Such a horrible combo.

I hope drunk stepdad gets a shirt for Christmas.

Lil’ Red threw so much fire his suit got a lil’ melty.

So dumb. So perf.

We’ve ALL dated Iowa.  And speaking of crazy chicks, you definitely want to swipe left if you run across this felon on Tinder.

Marvel at Iowa City’s best worst criminals by scrolling through the Iowa City Crime Report and you’ll be convinced Iowa is the Florida of the Midwest.


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Sunday Evening Hot Takes: Maryland Edition

As an In-N-Out enthusiast, Mike Riley might be calling the Maryland game his coaching Double Double.

OK, probably not. But get a load of the ways the Huskers doubled up the Terrapins.

Total Yards

Nebraska 401
Maryland 207

Time of Possession
Nebraska 39:00
Maryland 21:00

If this recap is already dripping with all the excitement of an owner’s manual for an alarm clock, it’s because there isn’t much to work with on this one.

Outside of oohing and aahing like it was the 4th of July every time Ryker Fyfe completed one of his 23 passes, this was by far the most non-exciting game of the season. Even the vanilla Fresno State game had the newness of a season opener going for it and a 22 point 4th quarter to make sure everyone paid attention to end.

Not that there’s ever anything wrong with boring when the Huskers leave the field with a win AND hold their opponent to 11 yards rushing. The seniors got a great sendoff, a touching tribute was paid Sam Foltz, and the newest Husker Jack Johnson had the best day ever.

Meanwhile, 15 of Husker Nation’s finest rolled out of bed to make a 9am kickoff.

Before you label us a boring crowd of Husker fans, just know that we were saving our energy for the social event of the season- #IOWAHATEWEEK.

Mike Riley’s Balloon Watch
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Did you know one of HCMR’s nicknames is Ol’ Nine Balloons Riley?

Our Score Prediction

Had we known back in August that Ryker would be starting this one we certainly would have dialed down the offensive output a smidge.

NUMBERS TO IMPRESS YOUR FRIENDS WITH

3: It was a career Senior Day for Terrell Newby as he found the end zone three times, setting a personal single game record. One more and he would have entered Al Bundy territory.

175: The yardage Terrell Newby needs to hit 1,000 on the ground for the season. Still not outside the realm of possibility.

.705: The Huskers are batting over .700 on 4th down, going 12 for 17 on the year so far.

9, 10, 11: As a college coach Mike Riley has hit the 9 win mark four times and got to 10 once back in 2006. He’s never had an 11 win season.

60/40: The run/pass split is currently a dead even 60/40. Last season it was 52/48.  This isn’t by any means a sexy statistic but keep in in your back pocket if Uncle Run the Ball Guy goes on a rant about the Huskers running less this season over Thanksgiving dinner. You’ll show him who’s boss.

6: This one is really going down the rabbit hole of extreme randomness but did you know that six different Huskers attempted a pass back in 2006? Zac Taylor, Joe Ganz, Dan Titchener, Maurice Purify, Marlon Lucky, and Jake Wesch?  Maybe you could win a bet with Uncle Run the Ball Guy with that useless nugget.

Oh the things you find skimming through seasons of stats when you’re trying to avoid writing about a boring game.


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Say Hello to Maryland, the Huskers’ Next Victim

It seems like the season was just getting started and now the Maryland game is here.

By late afternoon, Memorial Stadium will fall silent. The Sea of Red won’t roar again in Lincoln until 2017.

The final home game of the season marks the very first time the Huskers will be squaring off against the mighty Terrapins. If the Big Red can somehow manage to beat a team that was also edged out by Ohio State 62-3, they will notch their ninth win of the season and finish with a perfect home record for the first time since 2012.

Will it be Tommy Armstrong Jr. who gets to lead the Huskers to victory one last time in front of the home crowd, or will it be Ryker Fyfe who gets to lead the Huskers to victory for the first time?

Since that question probably won’t be answered until kickoff, let’s focus on the week’s important drama for a moment.

What the hell happened to the $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy?

Brandon Cavanaugh has a great breakdown of this travesty in the making on his site Eight Laces.  93.7 The Ticket all but confirmed it’s gone forever and a Change.org petition has been started to bring it back. You can add your name here.

It’s a total bummer to see the best trophy game in the Big Ten go away so unceremoniously. The biggest sign of all that it’s donezo is that there has been nary a peep from the Huskers’ Twitter account, which never passes up an opportunity for some sweet meme action. The ignore-it-and-hope-goes-away silence is deafening.

If the $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy really is retired, why not at least auction it off and have the proceeds go to charity? That would make Nebraska’s budding rivalry with Minnesota really worth something. (Assuming the trophy hasn’t already been chucked in a dumpster in the dead of night.)

Alright, let’s get back to Maryland.

Look, the Terrapins don’t boast a 5-5 record due to an overabundance of skill.  Their players can’t even go on a BB gun rampage without getting arrested. You think those geniuses will be able to contain DPE? Heck no. If the Blackshirts can contain the turtles’ running game, they should be in good shape to get the win even with Larry the Cable Guy taking the snaps.

The Huskers’ game plan on offense should be to let the running backs take care of business and only throw the ball to seniors standing wide open in the end zone. Do you realize Brandon Reilly hasn’t caught a touchdown pass since hauling in the game winner against Michigan State last year? Let’s get him another one at home before he leaves us.

Huskers 45
Maryland 23

BONUS CONTENT: If you end up sitting next to a Maryland fan, here are some things to know about The Old Line State

Crab Cakes are basically Maryland’s corn and Runza rolled into one. Do not speak ill of Crab Cakes unless you’re itching to start a fight.

Six Marylands could fit comfortably within Nebraska’s borders. Its wacky shape helps hide the fact that it ranks #42 in land area, coming in just ahead of Hawaii.

On the flip side, Maryland’s population density is nearly 25 times higher than Nebraska’s. To put that into perspective, Nebraska’s population would have to swell to 46 million people to achieve the same density. That might help explain why everyone in The Wire was so angry all the time. There’s no breathing room.

Finally, the state motto of Maryland is “Fatti Maschii, Parole Femine” which literally translates from archaic Italian to mean “Manly Deeds, Womanly Words.” Extra bonus points for you if you can work that into a heckle.


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Guess there’s a game today, huh?

Get excited. There’s a Husker game tonight.

What? You’re not pumped by the fact there’s a reasonable chance that the kid who currently plays holder could end up under center this evening?

Look people, there are two important things to know about this game.

1. No matter what happened this week, it is still gameday. We don’t get many of these a year and after this one there are only three of them left, barring any awful miracle that could lead to the Huskers playing Ohio State again.

2. Minnesota is not to be confused with Wisconsin or Ohio State. Granted, potential disaster is always on the table but there’s no way the Golden Gophers will hang 62 points on the Huskers, so that’s a good thing.

Minnesota comes to Lincoln with an identical 7-2 record, with their losses coming against Penn State (26-29 in OT) and Iowa (7-14, yes, they played all four quarters in that one).

The Gophers notched their big wins of the season against… um… wait a second… uh… nope… they really haven’t beaten a team that’s marginally good.

Then again, their numbers in wins against common opponents with the Huskers are similar enough to raise concern. Try these on for size.

Illinois
Huskers 31-16
Gophers 40-17

Purdue
Huskers 27-14
Gophers 44-31

Whatever though. This is Minnesota we’re talking about. It’s important to note that both Illinois and Purdue were softened up by the Huskers first. It’s not hard to beat a team when it has already been flogged into demoralizing submission by the Big Red.

While the Big Ten scheduling gods have been mostly nice to Minnesota, this game is where the Gophers start a gauntlet to end their regular season. After Nebraska, Wisconsin and Northwestern are on deck.

Even with Ryker or Zack at the wheel, the Huskers should be able to handle this one. If there was ever a time to turn the running backs loose, it’s tonight. A steady diet of Newby, Ozigbo, and Wilbon plus a touchdown by the Blackshirts should get the Huskers all the points they need to keep the $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy in Lincoln for another year. As much of a gamer as he is, there’s no reason for Tommy to risk taking another shot to the head so soon.

Huskers 44
Gophers 20
(Don’t laugh. We made this prediction back in August and we’re sticking to it. YOLO.)

mike-riley-carl-spackler
Mike Riley. Master football strategist. Caddy to the Dali Lama.


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An Open Letter to Husker Nation

Dear Husker Nation,

What a week it’s been, huh? Between the uncertainty of Tommy’s health and the future direction of this county, it’s a chaotic time to be a Husker fan.

If you’re already starting to dread where this is heading, please, hang in there. Yes, this is going to be a departure from what’s usually found around these parts but there will (hopefully) be a point to all of it.

This is the third season that Big Red Fury has been around. I originally started it on a lark as a way to showcase the ridiculous things Husker fans say on the internet, hence the name. If you enjoy reading the comments section of a hot take more than the hot take itself, this mission statement would have been right in your wheelhouse.

Unfortunately (and for the better) that focus didn’t even make it to the mid-point of the first season. My obsession with our favorite team soon overcame my juvenile desire to anonymously mock those whose opinions and insights I didn’t agree with or thought were dumb.*

This pivot (which nobody noticed because no one was reading this site in the beginning) was the start of something good. Already this season we’re on pace to reach 50,000 page views (dating back to August 1) by the end of the month. That’s a very small drop in the Husker bucket but a solid improvement from all of last season which barely crossed the plane of 30,000 views.

What I want to focus on though are the 228 Husker fans that @BigRed_Fury follows on Twitter. Since it hatched, Twitter has been either a useless distraction or an incredibly useful tool. It all depends on what you make of it.

Of those 228 people, I personally know maybe 50. The rest are folks I’ve gotten to know only through 140 character glimpses.

While the sample size may be be small, those 175 or so Husker fans are a remarkably diverse group of women and men scattered throughout all corners of the US with a few living abroad. In the long days between games and excruciating months between seasons, @BigRed_Fury’s timeline is a window into the daily lives of mostly anonymous strangers. From afar, I’ve sympathized with struggles, celebrated achievements, and developed an appreciation for whichever Kansas City Royal goes by Moose.

For the past few months, and more than ever this week, that same timeline has been an endless stream of political discourse along every inch of the horseshoe. There’s been joy and rage and everything in between. Those same 175 Husker fans are just as diverse politically as they are in the TV shows they tweet about.

But you know what’s really fascinating?

For a few hours a week all that chatter goes absolutely silent.

Not so coincidentally, this phenomenon occurs only when the Huskers are playing.

I expect this trend will continue tomorrow when the Huskers take on Minnesota. During the game, and I swear this is as political as I will ever get on a football site, please take a moment to appreciate how 90,000+ fans can pack into Memorial Stadium every single gameday and rally together to celebrate one thing they all love and hold dear, no matter their personal background or beliefs. If all those Husker fans can have at least one thing in common, there’s a good chance they have a few more too.

The Sea of Red has always meant so much more than everyone got the memo to wear red.

It’s a powerful symbol of spirit and pride that has no peer.

You know how all of us in Husker Nation relish the chance to buy an opposing fan a beer or invite them to join our tailgates?

Take that same attitude apply it someone into your daily life. That Facebook friend you’ve been arguing with all week? Invite them to get coffee. I bet you would have a blast bickering over Starbucks’ new red cups in person.

Each and every one of us are so much more more than the opinions and clickbait articles we share with our social networks. The sooner we remember that, the sooner we’ll feel this country of ours take a step back from the ledge that we’ve been led to believe its standing over.

I don’t have the same opinions as those 175 Husker fans I superficially know through Twitter and the same would certainly apply the other way around. One thing I know for sure though is that I’d love to drink some beers and watch a game with every single one of them.

Because  that’s what Husker Nation does on gameday. We have a good time… unless we’re playing Wisconsin or Ohio State.

That is all and Go Big Red.

*ps: While I haven’t felt the need to roast him much this season (thanks, Omaha World-Herald paywall) Dirk may never wiggle off the hook of mockery but it will always be in good fun. Mostly ; )

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