A college football diversion

Growing up in the rural state of Nebraska generally implies that a person will be a fan of college football, if you’re a sports spectator at all. From a young age, like many of my peers, I wanted to play for the Cornhuskers (formerly the Bugeaters). This dream quickly faded when I realized my genes weren’t exactly suited to the gridiron. That is, I’m short.

Nonetheless, I remain a fan of college football, the Huskers in particular. I also root for Syracuse without good reason. I suppose it’s because they run some option ball, reside in a cold climate and to stretch the matter I have family there. Football is the only sport that I spectate, and frankly by the end of the season I’m usually lamenting all of the time I spent watching games when I could have been doing such and so and forth.

When I was in high school — even though I’d given up on the Nebraska dream to play for the Huskers — I had to learn how to participate as a spectator. You can’t get too involved. When my team would lose I’d be all torn up for a day or more, which is ridiculous. Unfortunately, this is common among fans. I worked for a summer during college on the grounds crew at a commercial airport, mowing lawns with a very respectable middle-aged man who admitted he still suffered from OZFS, Over-zealous Fan Syndrome.

I hope he’s cured by now, because our Cornhuskers are in sad shape. Last night they suffered their worst home loss in something like 50 years to the upstart Missouri Tigers. The team’s troubles started when then Athletic Director Steve Pederson fired coach Frank Solich after a 10-2 season. Pederson thought the program was headed into mediocrity. Apparently the AD slept through Solich’s last season. Pederson then hired Bill Callahan from the Oakland Raiders to head up the former Bugeaters. Callahan found the mediocrity Pederson was worried about in no time. Both men completely disregarded the tradition that helped build and sustain the Husker juggernaut.

This article is a well-written look at how difficult maintaining such a juggernaut can be (especially when an ignorant AD hires an ignorant coach). It’s a good read for any college football fan. All dominant programs will falter at times. Look at Oklahoma, Nebraska’s sole rival, in the late 90s. Look at Michigan today. Look at Penn State a few years back.

Following up a coach like Osborne is a monumental task anyway. Osborne was 255-49-3 and won three national titles in 25 seasons. Do the math; that’s an average of 10 wins a season. He never didn’t go to a bowl, and never actually won less than nine games in a season. In his last five years he only lost three games.

Despite the embarrassing home-loss to Mizzou and the worst five year stretch in the team’s history since, well, the 1950s or 60s, Husker fans have a lot to be proud of. The most consecutive sellout crowds, for instance, going on 300. Fans that are widely regarded as the best in the business, as evidenced by the sellout crowds. An all-time winning percentage of .713 (according to Wikipedia). Read the Wikipedia page on the team for more such trivia.

I hope Husker fans remain committed to the team through this dry spell. The reasons people root for one team or another they are pretty flakey to begin with, but flakier yet is a flighty fan. Further, I hope we act respectably. This diversion was prompted in part by an article I saw this morning about how disrespectful the Husker players were — apparently — to their Missouri counterparts. I can understand how the players are as frustrated as anyone in this situation, but they need to keep their head. I hope first-year coach Bo Pelini rights the ship of sportsmanship as necessary.

Adding: Here is a brief article with comments expressing appropriate skepticism of Chase Daniel’s accusations. Daniel’s complaints remind me of Kansas State teams from a few years back who also whined about Nebraska. Course, K-state was losing to the Huskers then. I don’t understand Daniel’s need to complain after blowing out Nebraska.

Adding again: The teams’ coaches have declared Daniel’s accusations dead in the water.

Photo from Wikipedia by Bobak Ha’Eri.

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About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at pcNielsen.com.

3 Responses to A college football diversion

  1. Tim J. says:

    I went to visit my brother in Ogallala, once, driving a car with two Arkansas Razorback bumper stickers on the back.

    He gave me a hug at the door and said, “You’d better turn your car around or you might get egged!”

    I chuckled. He looked at me and said, “I’m not kidding.”.

    Nebraska (like Arkansas) is in the pits this year, but Ogallala is something like 6-0, ranked in the top five statewide. The best they’ve ever done. He’s happy.

    He’s a radio personality, and calls play-by-play for all the Ogallala games.

  2. pNielsen says:

    He was serious? If it were Colorado or Oklahoma or a Big 8/12 team maybe. There was pretty bad blood between the Buffs and Huskers in the 90s after some reported incidents in Boulder, but I never heard of that kind of thing otherwise. And I wouldn’t have had any opinion on an Arkansas team!

  3. Tim J. says:

    Well, I still think he really was kidding.

    Kinda.

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