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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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Hey Oregon, Welcome to Mike’s House

Oregon,

We need to talk. Don’t worry. This is all going to be for your own good. I just want to make sure you little Duckies are prepared for what’s going to happen on Saturday.

You’ve probably been licking your bills for a while now at the prospect of migrating halfway across the country just to beat up on your former in-state rival like the good ol’ days of your annual Civil War.

But there’s one tiny problem.

Mike Riley isn’t at Oregon State anymore.

He’s at Nebraska.

Sure, I could start rattling off all the ways Riley’s coaching toy box has been upgraded but the truth is he’s just getting a taste of what it’s like to be in your Nikes, with world-class facilities and talent far beyond what he had in Corvallis. His playing field is finally level with yours.

But he has one big advantage that can’t be bought with Phil Knight money.

Heck, it can’t even be bought with Warren Buffett money.

And that’s Husker Nation.

While there’s no official date for when it was founded, a great case could be made for November 3, 1962, the day the Huskers’ sellout streak started. The Big Red lost to Missouri that day but the fans were back for the next one and all the others for the past 54 years. You Ducks have the honor of being number 350.

That’s kind of a big deal especially when you consider Memorial Stadium has nearly tripled in size during that time and Bill Callahan was head coach for a while.

Things are a little bit different around these parts. You’re going to be greeted by 90,000 of the most loyal and passionate fans you’ve ever played in front of anywhere. And that includes the little nest you call a stadium. (54,000 fans for your home games? Cute.)

Those fans (who will all be wearing red, btw) have known since Monday they won’t be sitting down for the duration of the game. All it took was a tweet from a linebacker that simply said #NoSitSaturday and everyone was like ‘Cool. We’ll spread the word.’

That’s how people roll in Nebraska. We take care of each other. Someone needs a favor? It gets done. Mike Riley is one of us now so when he steps onto that sideline, 90,000 people will have his back along with another million plus watching from afar.

Oregon, when you come out of that tunnel, it’s important that you’re prepared for what’s going to happen.

First off, no matter how loud it gets, and it will get loud, Memorial Stadium will not fall apart. She may feel like she’s about to crumble but don’t worry. She’s as solid as a rock. Mostly.

Either way, you’ll probably want to dip into your vast wardrobe and pick out some pants that can hide crotchal region stains (both the front and rear kind) just to be safe. Maybe something in a nice dark green? That should do the trick.

It’s going to be so loud you may feel yourself getting knocked backwards by the sheer force of 90,000 people screaming at the top of their lungs. For as much as these folks want to see the Huskers win, they don’t mean you any genuine harm. No matter the outcome, they’ll be cheering for you after the final whistle. It’s what Nebraska fans do.

So there you are, taking it all in and you see him.

mike-riley-flo-rida
Welcome to Mike’s house.

Yes, that inflatable Bob’s Big Boy looking thing is definitely a creeper and he’ll be there to welcome you onto the field. His name’s Lil’ Red and just go with it. Maybe even make a mental bookmark of the moment you make eye contact with his black, soul-less eyes. You’ll already be having the most surreal experience of your football career so why not make it just a little bit weirder?

Now kickoff. That’s when the fun really starts.

You may have read somewhere that Mike Riley’s Huskers can be a little unpredictable. For as frustrating as that can be, it’s been kind of fun that every game brings a new surprise. Will the Big Red decide to kick it old-school and pound the ball down your bill until you give up, or will Tommy Armstrong have the green light to go full Tommy, or maybe a mix of both to really keep your defense on their webbed toes?

Then there’s the problem of dealing with the Blackshirts.

Oh, you have an Olympic hurdler as a wide receiver? Well the Huskers have the guy who set the South Dakota state record in the 200 meter dash and he’s really good at making interceptions and too good at making tackles. Trust me, if you happen to make it past the defensive line, he’s not somebody you want to run into.

And if that wasn’t enough to make you want to go hang out in a park and beg for bread crumbs, there’s a rumor going around that the Huskers are getting hooked up with Yeezy Cleats.

If that happens, you’re doomed. Everyone knows it’s a proven scientific fact that a person runs faster in new shoes and Yeezys are far from being another boring pair of Nikes.

Good luck tomorrow, Oregon. You’re going to need it.


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