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 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.
Hey there, remember us? Hope so because our off-season hiatus is back off, again. We trust you’ve been having a great summer, staying cool, never changing, and catching a boatload of that Pokéyman.
Before we resume our usual Husker high jinks, we’d like to introduce you to Leslie Micek, a five star recruit who’s joining the Big Red Fury squad this season.
If you’re a regular participant in #Huskers Twitter, there’s a good chance you’ve seen her hot takes and observations on game day. If you haven’t, follow her here. Leslie is a world-class smart-ass, probably knows more about the Huskers (and sports in general) than you do, and can pound Bud Heavies with the best of them. (Actually, she’d probably put you under the table.)
Since there’s really no way to improve upon an intro like that, let’s get to her interview.
You hail from the land of Kool-Aid, aka Hastings, aka Tom Osborne’s hometown. What was it like growing up in the southern corner of the golden triangle that is Nebraska’s tri-cities area?
Perfect. Nebraska is a great place to be a kid, you can always be outside with a relatively low chance of finding any real trouble. I played with a lot of fireworks, rode my bike a lot, and constantly bothered all of the neighbors. I moved in 3rd grade, but my dad still lives there so I go back a lot and do Nebraska things like go fishing and attempt to learn how to play pitch. Not many people can say they were at the very first Kool-Aid Days back in 1997 (or something like that). And yes, that’s a real thing.
Winning. The teams of the mid 90s set me up for a lifetime full of disappointment. Thanks a lot, Tommie Frazier. Sometimes I get on YouTube and watch things like this- –
–it doesn’t help. I think I thought Nebraska was supposed to play in the championship every year. I mean, they are supposed to, they just don’t.
What’s your all-time favorite moment in your history as a Husker fan?
A couple of years ago I sneaked onto the sidelines of a game at Northwestern. My friends had media passes and passed one back to me. I got to witness my boys Ameer and Randy Gregory up close and personal. It was awesome, until they figured out at the end of the third quarter that I wasn’t supposed to be there and kicked me out. I tried to say I lost my badge but the security guy wasn’t having it. It was just fun to know that I could yell at Bo if I chose to…I didn’t. By the way, that Northwestern stadium is pathetic.
Not many fans can say they’ve had a Husker coach send them their own HUDL highlight of their sideline freakout. See if you can spot Leslie going nuts at Northwestern.
What’s the one loss that still sticks in your craw the most?
One?? Besides the obvious big losses, some personal memories have to include that very special BYU game last year. I decided last minute to go with my mom. I needed to be part of Mike Riley’s first game. I needed to be there. I did not need to see that BYU Hail Mary. Also, a special memory from the UCLA game in 2013 taught me to never make fun of my friends and their team until the game is over. The 18 point comeback by UCLA was brutal, I ended up being at Barney’s Beanery in West Hollywood from 9am-2am that day.
EDITOR’S NOTE: That’s a 17 hour(!) shift at a sports bar.
Who’s your all-time favorite player?
I’m bad at favorites. I would say either Tommie Frazier or Lawrence Phillips. There is a video compilation on YouTube of Lawrence Phillips running all over everybody for like 5 minutes.
He was just unreal. His story is heartbreaking but I find it very interesting. I think he is tied to be my favorite but he is the most interesting to me. Hope the upcoming 30 for 30 does his story some justice because I don’t think people know or understand the whole story of his life.
What’s your outlook for this season? Do Mike Riley and company have you feeling optimistic?
HCMR and Co. have me pumped. They are recruiting really well and the energy is contagious. As Phil Steele said, the Huskers were 5 plays away from being 11-2 last season and has them as his No. 2 most improved team this season. To be honest it’s the best time of the year, the time to be delusional and say the Huskers are going undefeated. Everybody tweet to me after the Huskers first loss and remind me that I’m a moron (but I see them at least getting to the playoffs, their schedule is pretty good, minus the Ohio State part).
What are your feelings on the phrase “Run the damn ball?”
I scream it at my TV enough that I suppose I like it.
You went to a “certain college” that was a former conference rival to Nebraska. You don’t have to name it, but was it like being a Husker fan behind enemy lines?
It was always fun to bring people from the school that will not be named to Nebraska for the games. They knew I wasn’t there permanently and referred to me as a tourist. I enjoyed showing them around Lincoln and introducing them to my Nebraska friends, and of course the local Runza. They always had a good time and the trips usually ended with us staying awake in the Cap City long enough to see the sunrise. It was quite a different experience for Nebraska fans making the trip to Columbia, they have some unwelcoming fans. I remember a story about some Mizzou fans letting all the air out of some Nebraska fans tires.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Um, I think you just named the school.
Rank the following Big Ten teams from least to most hated: Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin.
I’m an equal opportunity hater. I hate them all. Also, I have never understood the root for your conference stuff. If Nebraska loses, why do I want their competition to win? No thanks. Sorry to break it to Ohio State, but I will never be cheering for them.
Which one of the following Husker media types would you most like to have a beer with? Dirk Chatelain, Sam McKewon, Mike’l Severe, Tom Shatel, Steven M. Sipple.
Probably Tom Shatel because I don’t follow him so he hasn’t gotten on my nerves yet.
You’re one of the fortunate people who can claim being both a Husker fan and a Dodger fan. How would you say the two fan bases compare?
I think they both are similar because they have very dedicated and loyal fan bases. It’s pretty easy to be dedicated for 12 games a season for football fans but I meet Dodger fans that watch 162 games a season. I would like to think that’s what Husker fans would be like if there were that many games. They are both also very knowledgeable fan bases. I think Husker fans know more than the average football fans, especially regarding recruiting. Dodger fans are the same way, they are very educated about their team and their opponents.
I’ve always thought of LA as sort of like a United Nations of college football where you’ll go to a bar and see many different colleges represented. Is there a school’s fans that you find almost likable and is there a group that you find completely obnoxious?
I don’t know about a likable fan base but as soon as I thought of an obnoxious and unlikable fan base, my first thought was The U. They are all unbearable.
How would you say the overall college football knowledge base of an average Nebraska fan compares to other college football fans?
Husker fans blow everybody else out of the water in the category. I don’t know a lot of other fans that follow the recruiting process so closely. When I talk to other college football fans they don’t usually know who they are after and don’t attend any of the camps. Nebraska fans are big football dorks and will attend almost anything. I drove an hour and a half and through a fire in Calabasas to a Nebraska satellite camp last month and didn’t think twice. But speaking of recruits… Darnay Holmes, please come to Nebraska.
On those rare occasions that Nebraska loses, what’s your mood like after a game? How long does it take you to recover?
Such a rare occurrence that I can’t remember the last time that happened. But for future reference, nobody should contact me the rest of the day.
Who’s your number one QB if you’re building a team? Tommy Armstrong, Eric Crouch, Tommie Frazier, Joe Ganz, Taylor Martinez.
You go Tommie Frazier 100% of the time. As Tommie Frazier says “T Fraz, he was too smooth, he was too fast” in this classic rap song by Terrel Farley and Tommie Frazier:
Would you rather have one Ndamukong Suh or two Peter brothers anchoring a defensive line?
It’s had to turn down two DTs on the greatest college football team of all time, but when Suh is the other option. You pick Suh. Plus he is the size of two people but only one scholarship. That’s a bargain.
Amigos or Taco John’s? And what’s your go-to order?
Amigos. I love their chips and cheese and their crisp meat. The crisp meat is like a crispito from school lunches, I’m sure nobody will know what that is either. But I could really go for some Potato Olés right now.
How would you explain a Runza to someone who’s never heard of one?
This actually comes up a lot. I say its kind of like a cheeseburger baked into a roll. But better. Then I just usually talk about the mini corndogs and fries and people are on board.
Finally, let’s say you have a Kool-Aid stand out in the desert and from over a sand dune appears Bo Pelini, He’s been lost and wandering for days. How much would you charge him for an ice cold and refreshing glass of Kool-Aid? (Hypothetically, you’d have a square reader and he’d have a black AMEX.)
He better hope there is another Kool-Aid stand around.
While Nebraska’s capital city may not seem like the most exciting destination, the town does have a couple things going for it.
1) Even without a GPS (and even with impaired brain function), it is absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to get lost in Lincoln. Navigation is easier than making a Jell-O salad. The streets run on a brilliant grid system of numbered and lettered streets.
The lettered streets run east/west with O Street considered to be main street. The numbered streets go north/south and any address north of O is considered north and anything south is south. Most folks will give directions based on an intersection e.g. Misty’s Steakhouse (home of the best prime rib in Lincoln and Modern Monks Brewing) is at 11th & P. Boom. Easy, right? Its real address, 200 N. 11th Street, translates to two blocks north of O Street on… wait for it… 11th Street.
If you’re staying downtown (as you should be) consider the Capitol (that 400 foot tall building that looks like a p-e-n-i-s) to be your southern boundary and Memorial Stadium (can’t miss it) to be your northern boundary. Anything between those two monuments is your weekend playground.
2) BOOZE while the streets of Lincoln may not literally flow with beer like the streets of our Big Ten rival up in Madison, the Star City is no slouch when it comes to ease of opportunity to get wasted. Bars are sprinkled throughout downtown as liberally as cheese on Funeral Potatoes. Walk ten feet in any direction and you will find one.
Duffy’s – Home of the Fishbowl. You can literally get a fishbowl filled with booze. Perfect for sharing and making friends. Stay in town until Tuesday and take advantage of Dad’s Beer Night. In 2015 you can still get a beer for only a buck.
Yia Yia’s – Great selection of regional and national microbrews. Best pizza in Lincoln.
Sandy’s – Get an Elk Creek or five and spend a nice night sleeping on the sidewalk under the stars.
O’Rourke’s – Last call in Lincoln is 2am for most spots and O’Rouke’s will keep serving right up until the moment the clock strikes 2. Plus, you can get beer to go here or “off-sale” as the locals call it.
The Brass Rail – If Greek letters permanently adorn any part of your person, you’ll be right at home. Often named one of the best college bars in the US by the scandalous Playboy Magazine.
Zoo Bar – While Donnie and Marie would never play here, this is a great place for live music.
Cliff’s Lounge – Pay tribute to the guy who invented Cliff’s Notes (seriously) by ordering a cocktail served in a pint glass.
Lazlo’s – Home of Nebraska’s largest microbrewery and one of the best restaurants in Lincoln.
Barry’s – Can’t go wrong with making this classic Lincoln sports bar your game day HQ.
Vega – Live music venue with a tailgate parting on game day.
Brewskys – The most self-explanatory place on this list.
If you need caffeine the morning after, The Mill is the best coffee shop in Lincoln.
HOW TO DRESS: When you step out on the town, be sure to proudly, but not boastfully, wear your BYU gear, so you can be easily identified by any Husker fans who’d like to buy you a drink. As strange as it sounds, Nebraska folk love being good hosts to out-of-towners. Anyone living outside Nebraska’s borders is considered an exotic specimen who will no doubt add a dash of excitement to another humdrum day of watching the corn grow.
Like politics and religion, there’s is some decorum that must be followed when talking football with Husker fans. It’s always best to keep things on the complimentary side. If you stick to the following talking points, you’ll be the new best friend of everyone wearing red in no time.
“Coach Osborne sure is a legend. You can almost feel his presence in the air.”
“No matter what they say, I still believe the 1995 Huskers squad was the best team of all-time. The Heisman should have gone to that Tommie Frazier.”
“Ameer Abdullah and Ndamukong Suh are both on my fantasy team.”
“I’d love to see Nebraska go back to the option some day.”
“After everything that happened last season, I’m just glad to see Nebraska moving in a positive direction.” **
TAILGATING: While the campus is technically a dry one, authorities tend to look the other way when it comes to adults with valuable booster money drinking. The key is to put whatever adult beverage you’re drinking into a plastic cup. And the best part, the same rules for walking around Lincoln apply to tailgating but even more so. If you’re hungry or thirsty before the game, just walk among the throngs of tailgaters and marvel at how quickly a Husker fan fixes you a plate and hands you a beverage.
If you ever wanted to have strangers hand you assorted meats, a Husker tailgate is the place to be.
FINAL BIT OF ADVICE: If you’re roaming around downtown and feel the need to tinkle, it’s totally cool to dip into an alley to relive yourself. In fact, it is heartily encouraged. Those Lincoln bike cops cruising the streets like they’re on a mission? They won’t give you a ticket. No way, no how. Heck, they’ll even play lookout for you. Scout’s honor.
**Like those of the Jewish faith not mentioning g-d or Muslims drawing a portrait of Allah, it is best to save yourself any potential trouble and never mention former head coach Bo Pelini by name.
He is still quite the polarizing figure among Husker Nation.
Yes, us. Big Red Fury, that Nebraska Cornhusker site that fell off the radar on the eve of the of the most important Spring Game in nearly a decade.
Well, there’s not much to say other than we got busy and by ‘we’ that is the proverbial royal we as this place is mostly a one-man operation but that is soon changing. We’re about to become a multi-person operation.
The last time we checked-in, Mike Riley was about to do his first Tunnel Walk and we were about to head out to scenic West Covina (aka the hometown of Lawrence Phillips) to play in the annual Dodger Blogger Softball Tournament.
Luckily for those of us on team Sons of Steve Garvey, we had a two game bye when Jon Soo Hoo, the Dodgers’ Team Photographer, was on-scene so our “athletic” exploits weren’t documented for posterity but we did succeed in having the drunkest team photo.
Your humble author, holding down the hot corner.Photo:Scott Killeen
The whole reason for bringing this up is that one of our female ringers on our team ended up being from Columbus. Once we discovered our Nebraska connection, that thing happened when you put two Nebraskans together and they instantly start speaking their own language.
We had a great Nebraska bro-down and it made the anguish of missing the Spring Game a little more bearable though it did get a little stressful checking Twitter between pitches. Depending on the source, players were either crushing it or forgetting how to play football or were already filling out their transfer paperwork on the sideline. Oh how the rumors swirl when you’re the last quarterback to take the field. (Looking at you, Johnny Stanton.)
By the time it was over, Tommy is still the man, there’s going to be a logjam for the backup spot, DPE will go HAM next season, Imani might not be the featured back, and if the defense can get any linebackers on the roster, things might be OK for the Blackshirts.
Then good ol’ Lawrence Phillips (TODAY is his birthday, btw) popped up in the news for being suspected of murdering his cellmate at Kern Valley State Prison. Apparently it’s not sounding like the most difficult case to prove. Two guys are locked in a cell, one guy ends up strangled.
Look, I’ve had some annoying roommates in my day and I know I’ve also been that annoying roommate but stone cold murdering one of them wasn’t exactly high on the list of options much the same as I hope I was never a potential “murderee.”
Ever since we shared our bizarre Lawrence Phillips story, I’ve kicked (OK, maybe not the best word) around the idea of reaching out to the guy to see how he’s been doing after being locked up for a half decade. Has there been any remorse? Is he working on his GED? Is he trying to mentor any short-timers?
Clearly that was not the case and for a guy who was on target to be released at the spry age of 57, tacking on a murder charge isn’t exactly the best move.
In better news though, Randy, Kenny and Ameer all got drafted by the NFL. Here’s hoping they all have long and illustrious careers.
If Randy Gregory can make it through camp, look for Macho Man Randy Sackage be snapping into some quarterbacks this Fall.
Then how about that Coach Who Shall Not Be Named 2.0? Dude is will be getting paid $128,009 a month for the next four years to not coach the Huskers. While a crappy lottery ticket every month sounds like a lot of money, believe it or not he’s actually saving Nebraska $1.4 million thanks to landing on his feet back home in Youngstown.
And finally, we’re thrilled to announce that Haley Archer, aka the Harchinator, is joining Big Red Fury as our first-ever student contributor. Hayley is a Broadcasting student from Minneapolis who made the very wise decision of defecting to Husker Nation. Sorry, Gopher-land. She’s one of us now.
To quote Dirk: “…the local hero gave up everything he knew and cut a new trail east, trading his cruiser of a program for an Escalade.”
On the surface, the analogy is clear and easy to digest. By making the leap from Oregon State to Nebraska, Coach Riley swapped the key to his humble beach cruiser’s lock for the keys to a four-wheeled intergalactic spaceship of Olive Garden parking lots.
Oregon State on the left. Nebraska on the right.
In the companion video that illustrates Riley’s commute from his former home to Reser Stadium, Dirk says “Riley isn’t much of a car guy, even if it’s the safer form of travel.”
Sort of. Weighing in at nearly 6,000 pounds, the Escalade requires a big engine for any semblance of speed, just as long as it doesn’t have to turn. And despite its SUV status, don’t even think about taking on an Oregon Trail-like expedition.
It’s loaded with all kinds of info-taining technologically wizardry.
Just like Memorial Stadium. We’ll overlook the part where Car and Driver calls the Escalade’s system annoying.
While the Escalade had its moment in the sun, Husker football was in the gutter. They both have yet to rebound to where they once were but at least the Huskers haven’t been reduced to being mocked by the New York Times for moonlighting as the heel in a second string Disney movie.
Maybe Dirk isn’t much of a car guy. Or maybe he used the first analogous vehicle that came to mind. Perhaps an editor thought his piece needed a quick hitter comparison for the simpletons beyond Omaha’s cosmopolitan borders.
We’ll pretend it was the latter.
It would greatly disappoint us that a writer as sharp as Dirk would leave a ball on the tee with a stout tailwind blowing straight down the pipe of a wide open fairway.
A year after Bob Devaney made his debut on the Memorial Stadium sideline, Dr. Ferdinand Porsche unveiled his new 911 at the 1963 Frankfurt Auto Show.
Bob Devaney and Ferdinand Porsche embarked on their legacy defining work a only a year apart. The foundations they built are still recognizable to this day.
The Huskers’ most recent masterpiece and the 2015 Porsche 911.
Before you get up in arms about the notion of a German car being symbolic of a team as American as the Huskers, think about the country where the bulk of Nebraska’s early pioneers came from.
Now, with that strong German heritage in mind, let’s take a closer look at the iconic 911.
From its 1963 debut through 1989, every year brought new variations and upgrades with many components remaining the same and were interchangeable from year to year.
When Porsche engineers felt they had wrung every last drop of performance out of the existing platform, they started over with a clean slate. The signature look and air cooled, rear engine design remained the same. The next few years that followed were spent working out the kinks of modernization.
By late 1993, another step in the 911’s evolution was taken. Three decades may have passed but perfection was finally realized. The next five years were a celebration of full potential reached. A car that should have ceased production by the time the 80s rolled around had found new life. A design that pundits had deemed antiquated was thriving and leaving its rivals in the dust in the 90s.
The historic run would come to an end in the fall of 1998 when the first 911s with liquid cooled engines rolled into dealer showrooms.
One era ends. Another begins.
Does any of that sound eerily similar to the fate of the Huskers?
Boom. Change a single detail and Dirk’s story takes on a whole new historical dimension.
— Bonus content —
While the 911’s history and philosophy meshes almost too perfectly with that of the modern era Huskers, if one single car were to truly epitomize Nebraska football, we’d be inclined to pick this bad boy.
The Dodge Viper GTS features a 488 cubic inch V-10 that puts out 450 horsepower the old-fashioned way. This beast has enough torque to rip the capitol off its foundation and isn’t afraid to take a punch in the mouth. Let’s hope Coach Riley found the keys to an unmarked storage shed in his welcome packet. It’s time to release the Kraken.
What car do you think is most symbolic of the Huskers?
One of the best parts about living in Los Angeles is that fellow idiots are only a text message away. It didn’t take much convincing to get my friends Brent and Ray from the hilarious Ray’s N’ Brent Podcast to meet up bright and early on a Saturday morning knowing the only outcome would be self-induced internet embarrassment and shame.
Not long after Kenny Bell broke off a 4.42 40 yard dash at the combine, we met at the 50 yard line of one of the most hallowed football fields in all of Los Angeles- Van Nuys High. You may know it better as Ridgemont High.
It was an honor to stand on the very field where Charles Jefferson single-handedly destroyed Lincoln High.
True Story:After Fast Times at Ridgemont High was filmed at Van Nuys High, the school’s mascot remained the Wolves in honor of Ridgemont’s mascot.
Tale of the tape:Ray was a Randy Gregory like 6’4″ 240, your humble author was a doughy Kenny Bell at 6’1″ and 212, and Brent came in at 5’9″ and a stout 255 (aka Ameer Abdullah plus 4 bowling balls).
Our agenda for the day was the same as many prospects working out at the combine. After checking to see how we measured up/how much we’d let ourselves go, we set out to do the 40 yard dash, 20 yard shuttle run, 3 cone drill, standing broad jump, vertical leap and in lieu of decapitating ourselves trying to bench 225lbs, a push up contest would be our grand finale.
Going from the couch to the combine is not a move many fitness experts would ever recommend. Writing this a day later, my shoulder is still sore from failing to stick a landing in the vertical leap, some side fat is feeling the pain of being stretched in a direction it shouldn’t have been and there’s a hitch in the ol’ get-a-long thanks to shanking one too many attempts at a 20 yard field goal.
Finishing the day within two seconds of Ameer in the 40 yard dash felt pretty good but any shred of glory got washed away as I did some math while hobbling off the field.
A two second margin of victory in a 40 yard footrace means that Ameer would win by nearly 20 yards.
His top performances in the vertical and the broad jump are even more ridiculous. In our tryout tape, we jumped from the edge of the sand because we didn’t know if we could even make it to the sand. And we used the soccer goal as our vertical measuring stick because none of us could even graze the bottom of the goal post’s crossbar.
With actual, real training (and maybe 15 years rolled off the odometer) could it be possible to even hang at the combine?
Maybe. But then there’s that whole also-having-to-excel-at-playing-football thing that gets thrown in the mix as well. Not even The Ocho has room in their schedule for pro shuttle runners.
Ultimately, the jaw dropping numbers you see put up at the combine are the result of a decade or so worth of focused, hard work. And that’s on top of a no doubt strong foundation of natural talent.
Each and every single one of those guys who make it that far all had a coach at some point who gave them the hustle beats talent when talent doesn’t hustle speech and realized talent that hustles could be unstoppable. You just gotta commit and do the work.
It was only fitting that the seven years of the Bo Pelini era at Nebraska remained a thrill ride down to the last damn second.
In a Holiday Bowl match up against USC that very few pundits gave the Huskers any chance of winning, the Big Red showed up ready to play and ready to honor their departed and beloved coach.
There would be no Hail Mary magic this time around but the stage was set for amazing irony when Holiday Bowl officials put a final second back on the clock after a review proved Kenny Bell scrambled out of bounds with a tick to spare on the penultimate play.
While the record books will say the Huskers came up three points short, those guys played their hearts out and Pelini’s remaining staff proved their mettle on the sidelines. Every single one of them gave a reason for Husker Nation to stay proud.
Nebraska handled USC except for where it mattered the most.
The result of their efforts was arguably the most Pelini like game of the past seven years and it was the only one that had Bo watching from parts unknown.
Explosive plays, mind boggling miscues, clutch defensive stops, a momentary sideline meltdown thanks to Coach Kaz, and a never say die attitude- all the signature elements of a Pelini lead team were present and accounted for.
Kenny Bell added one more touchdown reception to his record-setting Husker career.
Three out of the Huskers’ four losses this season ended with Nebraska still in position to win at the very end. While the near-miss 19 point 4th quarter rally against Michigan State will be hard to ever top, Nebraska didn’t flinch when down 45 – 27 with 2:24 left to play in the 3rd quarter.
Instead, the Red Storm responded with a big score of their own, a 65 yard #TommyBomb to Jordan Westerkamp barely a minute later. Offensive Coordinator Tim Beck never strayed from his playbook or his quarterback.
Thanks unwavering confidence and the stone hands of the USC secondary, Tommy Armstrong ended the night with a better stat line than Cody Kessler. As Mike Purrriley pointed out, the Blackshirts held a 70% career passer to under 60%.
As the game transitioned from shoot out to heavyweight slug fest in the 4th quarter, we did our best to just sit back and enjoy the final twists and turns of the Pelini roller coaster. The Huskers had nothing and everything at stake in their final 15 minutes of their season and, for some, their careers at Nebraska. Playing for just for the sake of playing is when any sport is at its most pure.
While the 4th and 3 that came up short and effectively ended the Huskers’ chances at winning will go down as one final boneheaded move by Tim Beck in the eyes of many arm chair coordinators, we have to say the call was sound, if not for the logic but for the symbolism.
With USC no doubt keying in on Abdullah (save for that defender locked in on DPE like a heat seeking missile), giving the ball to anyone but Ameer wasn’t bad entirely bad thinking. Instead of being furious that Ameer was lead blocker on the play, think of it as a Husker legend paving the way for a future Husker legend.
And if it makes you feel any better, USC did the same thing in the 2006 BCS Championship against Texas. Facing a critical 4th and 2 with 1:49 remaining, temporary Heisman winner Reggie Bush stood on the sidelines as LenDale White (who fumbled on the previous play) was stuffed by the Longhorn defense.
The Huskers may have closed out the Pelini era with a loss but the future is bright.
Just wait ’til next year.
Go Big Red.
Like everyone else, we were pretty far off base with our prediction.
“Honestly, this game could go either way with a blowout for either team being the most likely outcome. It’s hard to imagine the Holiday Bowl going down to the wire so we’re gonna stick with our way early prediction of a 38 – 17 Husker victory.”
We are so dumb.
Apparently Mike Riley left after the third quarter with a tuckered out grandson on his shoulder. Even by flaky Dodger fan standards, that’s leaving awfully early.
Someone please tell him that in Nebraska it’s still socially acceptable to leave your grandchild locked in the car as long as you leave the radio on and crack the window.
If the 2 point conversion to Kenny Bell looked familiar, it’s because you saw Nebraska win at Michigan State in 2012 with the exact same play.
It’s fitting that the epilogue to the crashed and burned Bo Pelini era at Nebraska will be written on the same field as his career’s finest moment- the 2009 Holiday Bowl.
Things would only be downhill from here for Bo Pelini.
What followed that 33 – 0 victory over the Arizona Wildcats was the most hopeful time of Pelini’s seven seasons at Nebraska. It was the perfect salve to the one more second debacle against Texas and had Husker fans licking their chops at a run for a National Championship in 2010.
That season began with the Huskers ranked #8 in the polls and unknown redshirt freshman Taylor Martinez lined up in the shotgun at quarterback. His jaw dropping speed lead the Huskers to a 5 and 0 start and a national coming out party for Martinez in a Thursday night match up against Kansas State on ESPN.
Nine days later, the wheels would fall off the Big Red Express when the unranked and hated Texas Longhorns came to Lincoln and left with a 20 – 13 victory. In that game, the Huskers’ offense was absolutely stuffed with the lone touchdown coming off a 95 yard return of a pooch punt late in the game by Eric Haag. Martinez was benched as senior and 2009 starter Zac Lee entered the game for a rare appearance.
In retrospect, all the the negative aspects that would be a hallmark of Pelini’s tenure bloomed on that day.
(Screengrab via Huskermax.)
A month later, Pelini’s temper would take the national stage as he gave Martinez the ass-reaming of his life against Texas A&M. By Sunday night Martinez was already enrolled at UCLA (if message boards were to be believed).
A month after that, Martinez and the Huskers limped through a 19 – 7 loss against Washington in the Holiday Bowl- the same Huskies team that Nebraska destroyed 56 – 21 back in September.
At the helm for the Huskers in Saturday’s Holiday Bowl is the much maligned Barney Cotton. After the game, he’ll leave the Huskers (for a second time) for his new gig as UNLV’s Offensive Coordinator. With the exception of John Garrison and Charlton Warren, the futures for the rest of Pelini’s staff are up in air. The seniors have one final game together and the underclassmen will likely finish their careers as Mike Riley’s players.
About the only thing left for the Huskers to play for is pride. Pride for their team. Pride for their teammates. Pride for their coaches who deemed them worthy of playing for Nebraska.
Pride can be a dangerous weapon, especially with a healthy Husker squad and an offensive coordinator off his leash.
Scouting Report:USC started the 2014 season with a 52 – 13 win over Fresno State. Two weeks later, the Huskers muzzled the Bulldogs 55 – 19 while USC lost on the road to Boston College 37 – 31. The Trojans’ three other losses came at the hand of Arizona State, Utah, and UCLA. Their crosstown showdown was the only game the Trojans lost by more than a touchdown, falling to the Bruins 38 – 20, a game in which the USC defense got flustered and all but gave up in the second half.
The Trojans’ most notable wins of the season came against Stanford, Arizona on the road, and a 49 – 14 punch out of the Fighting Irish at home. In case you’re wondering, they did beat Mike Riley’s Beavers 35 – 10 in LA. Like the Huskers, the Trojans have the potential to run with anyone- if they can harness it.
The Trojan offense is lead by junior Quarterback Cody Kessler. He can sling the ball but he isn’t exactly fleet of foot having “rushed” 52 times for -149 yards. On the season, he’s been sacked 30 times.
An immobile quarterback has to have Defensive Coordinator John Papuchis licking his chops, right?
USC may have the better team on paper but the reality is there is truly only one edge the Trojans have on the Huskers heading into the Holiday Bowl.
Sorry, Scarletts. All the glitter in the world is no match for the simple white sweaters that are a trademark of the USC Song Girls.
And that’s about all the “serious” preview you’ll get from us.
In our defense, we did reach out to our friend Mick, an LAPD Sergeant and quite possibly the Trojans biggest fan. Seriously, he’s “The Dude” of USC football right down to his tattoo of Tommy Trojan holding the severed head of Notre Dame’s mascot whilst standing on the beaten pulp of UCLA’s Bruin.
This is the entire transcript of our chat.
What is your prediction for the Holiday Bowl and who are the USC players the Huskers need to watch out for?
Before we even had a chance to even think of being offended by such an epic brush off, we realized Mick had to already be in San Diego making his tailgate preparations and had no such time for silly questions. We’ve been his guest at USC games a few times over the years and aren’t kidding when we say he’ll show up at 6am to stake out his tailgate spot for a game that doesn’t start until 7pm.
Ideal Scenario: The Huskers close out the Bo Pelini era with a bold exclamation point with a fun and dominating performances on both sides of the ball reminiscent of the 2000 Alamo Bowl- arguably the Big Red’s most fun bowl game of the 21st century. A Kenny Bell to Ameer Abdullah touchdown pass would be absolute gravy.
Look for Tim Beck to empty his playbook with enough #TommyBombs to reenact Operation Linebacker I and II. That is of course when Ameer isn’t running wild on the Trojan defense.
On the other side of the ball, Randy Gregory and Jack “The Beastmaster” Gangwish will pin their ears back and give Cody Kessler a late Christmas gift of a world of pain. USC may get a couple of deep balls early but don’t be surprised when Papuchis stays calm under pressure and readjusts once he realizes no one is going to scream at him on the sideline.
Honestly, this game could go either way with a blowout for either team being the most likely outcome. It’s hard to imagine the Holiday Bowl going down to the wire so we’re gonna stick with our way early prediction of a 38 – 17 Husker victory.
Over/Under on Angry Bo Close Ups: 3 — ESPN will surely start the game with a montage of Bo’s “finest” moments.
Question That Needs an Answer: Will Barney Cotton finish his Cornhusker head coaching career undefeated?
With Christmas closing in faster than Randy Gregory in pursuit of a dead-in-the-water quarterback, here’s a breakdown of these cool products that make great holiday gifts for your favorite Husker fan.
Please note: These gift ideas are not “sponsored.” These are just things we’d personally love to have if we don’t already own them.
8-Bit Husker T-Shirt from Nebraska Red Zone
Tecmo Bowl and the Huskers collide in this 8-bit inspired tee. While we’ve never visited their physical store, Nebraska Red Zone has a great line up of Husker gear and rock solid reliable shipping. We’ve turned to them a few times when getting a fresh t-shirt for a new season and have always been pleased with their service.
Husker Bikini Bottoms
Every day can be spring break with a Husker bikini for your special lady friend. Mmm… Husker bikini.
A Case of Runzas
To those of us Husker fans who live outside of Runza territory, these puppies are worth their weight in gold. In the days leading up to the Huskers playing at UCLA back in 2012, we cashed in some Southwest miles, hopped a flight to Denver, rented a car and drove up to Ft. Collins to visit the westernmost outpost of the Runza empire just to grab a case of these delicious beefy Twinkies to ensure our tailgate was all it could be.
Our friend Josh, a Los Angeles native, enjoying his very first Runza outside the Rose Bowl.
Fear the Corn T-Shirt from Big Red of the Rockies
Support the only Nebraska Cornhuskers themed store in Estes Park, Colorado that’s owned by a former Husker. For the record, Jesse Kocsh was the nicest Husker we knew during our time at UNL.
A Subscription to Hail Varsity Magazine
In an age where unsubstantiated tweets count as news, Hail Varsity is a modern twist on a bygone era offering insight far beyond what you can find in traditional media.
Tom Osborne and Bo Pelini Autographed Poster
Yes, there is a certain amount of gallows humor in this suggestion but for some folks it could represent an time of hopeful optimism that never had a chance to be fully realized. Or, it could be one last sick joke to your friend who was on the “Bo Must Go” train since 2008.
Hear Nebraska Koozie
Yes, we know this isn’t directly Husker related but beer and football go together like peas and carrots. Buy a koozie from Hear Nebraska and you’ll help support the Nebraska music scene which believe it or not is a pretty big deal outside of the Cornhusker State.
Through These Gates
Filmmaker Ryan Tweedy captured what it truly means to be a fan of the Nebraska Cornhuskers in a great documentary full of insightful interviews and game day footage guaranteed to send a chill down the spine of any Husker fan. Through These Gates also works as a great warning for anyone who may be be signing on to a Husker family for the long haul, as in this should be mandatory viewing before any engagement rings get slipped on fingers.
University of Nebraska Football Vault by Mike Babcock
Written by renowned Husker scribe Mike Babcock, this is the definitive tome of Husker football. It covers the humble Bugeater beginnings to the skies-the-limit optimism of the start of the Bo Pelini era and everything in-between. It truly is a treasure for any Husker fan.
Tailgator Gas Powered Blender
Boasting a 25cc 2.25 horsepower two stroke engine, the Tailgator blender will make a round of frozen margarita’s faster than Ameer can break off a 40 yard dash. It’s a spendy item but worth it when it comes to ruling the tailgate scene. Without a doubt this is the Red Ryder BB Gun of tailgating accessories. Also includes carrying case!
Too bad the character limitations of Twitter didn’t allow Omaha World-Herald staff writer Dirk Chatelain to more accurately describe what happened on the Butt Punt, which is A Nebraska native scored a touchdown thanks to standing in the right place at the right time when a fellow Nebraska native rocketed a punt off the helmet of his teammate.
(And on a note Omaha World-Herald staff writer Dirk Chatelain would ever bring up, a Nebraska native on the Huskers’ defensive line is currently enjoying the season on his life.)
We’ll have more on the selective accuracy issues of Omaha World-Herald Dirk Chatelain later this week but until then, we’re going back to the Butt Punt.
Despite what Matt Millen said, the Butt Punt wasn’t a Butt Punt at all.
Butt Punt was a Back-Of-The-Head-Punt.
Wonder what Zach Hannon was thinking when a Thunder Leg special plunked the back of his head?
Here’s another angle.
If you look close, you can see Sam Foltz’ soul leaving his body as he is chokeslammed to the turf.
And not to be dicks but we hate to see the fruits of late night drunken GIF making go to waste so here’s one more.
Don’t forget, Thunder Leg was the one who forced the Iowa fumble in the first quarter so cut the dude a break. Even with the Butt Punt his highlight to blooper ratio is off the charts.
So, about the game that Husker Nation either loved or hated depending on whether or not you like your team more than whoever is coaching it.
Ideal Scenario: The Huskers summon whatever pride they may have left and show Iowa who’s the boss for the third time in four years. On the flip side, if the game gets ugly for the Huskers, may it be the meltdown to end all meltdowns.
If there was ever a moment to set the stage for the meltdown to end all meltdowns, it was a touchdown scored off a Butt Punt to give Iowa a 17 point lead.
Did the Huskers wilt under the embarrassment and pressure?
Tim Beck flipped to the dogeared YOLO section his playbook and Huskers young and old stepped up on both sides of the ball to will their team to victory. It was a total team win that sent nine Husker fans into as much of a frenzy that could be mustered in an empty bar on Sunset Blvd the morning after Thanksgiving.
Before you mock our low turnout, the level of Husker fandom present was probably higher than most watch sites. Along with one mediocre blogger, there were not one but two champion podcasters. (Subscribe here and here.) Plus, Ryan from the Cobcast made that little film Through These Gates which would make an excellent holiday gift for any Husker fan ; )
So what’s next for Pelini and company? Who really knows? Half the internet says the guy is already fired. The other half says there’s no way you can fire a coach with his record.
Then there’s a tiny sliver of the internet (possibly confined to just this little corner) that almost wishes Bo would hit eject and peace out to greener pastures on his own accord. Imagine the reaction from the Boleavers if he set up shop at Florida and promptly took the Gators to the top of the SEC.
The guy certainly has his pros and cons. Do we love him? Nope. Do we hate him? Nope. We’ve never met the him so that’s about all the opinion we can have. But we would shake his hand, offer to buy him a beer and remind that not every Husker fan is an internet Athletic Director.
Whatever happens with this Huskers team over the next few weeks remember, the reason why you’re a fan is because of the team- not just a single individual.