Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

A Most Satisfactory Win


Nebraska fans don’t seem to care who is coming to play football in their stadium–they turn out for every opponent, no matter how small or how imposing. Last Saturday marked the 350th sellout in a stadium that seats more than 90,000 people. That record dates back to my time at NU, people–nineteen and sixty-effing-two. Of course the stadium was less capacious then. Nebraska had not yet won all those national championships, and still we came to watch.

Faithful fans were amply rewarded last Saturday when the fabled Oregon Ducks came to town. I was certain beforehand that Big Red would lose this game, maybe by fifty points, given Oregon’s history as a powerhouse. Happily, they are so no longer. Nebraska looked good against them on both offense and defense throughout the game. Then the Huskers pulled out a last-minute win by stopping Oregon’s last desperate drive at mid-field on fourth down. Nebraska then took the ball and marched it smartly into the end zone for the win. Hooray!

Nebraska’s new coach, Mike Reilly, spent many years at Oregon State where his team was regularly left in the dust by Oregon. I’m sure I saw Reilly weeping after the game on Saturday. Revenge is sweet, sayeth the long-suffering coach, under his breath of course.

I thought twice about attaching the following photo, given its mean-spiritedness about Oregon’s fancy unis. But I still feel sufficiently jubilant about the game not to give a shit.



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The Poetry Has Gone


calvin snow

Calvin Johnson has announced his retirement from football.  Good for him–he is only 30, and hence he may have spared himself and his family the horrors that attend on more lengthy stays in the NFL.

But I will miss watching him. He moved like a dancer.


He was so fast that he was often able to sneak behind defenders, catching them, literally, off guard. He was a joy to watch.


Bye, Calvin.



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Just Like Old Times



Inspired by the volleyball team . . .

No, I can’t get away with that. Even though there are close connections between Nebraska’s football and volleyball players. On the night the women won the National Championship, for example, they received congratulatory tweets from Ameer Abdullah and Kenny Bell, who are now in the NFL.

No matter the source of inspiration, last night the Cornhusker football team beat UCLA in one of those low-rent bowl games that only participants care about. And during the second half I wasn’t sure that even UCLA gave a damn. But Nebraska sure needed that win.

The Husker coaches took a page (FINALLY) out of Nebraska football history, and ran the ball, and ran, and ran, and ran. Getting into the spirit of things, the announcers, who were clearly from/for California, evoked the spirit of Tom Rathman, which was a compliment of the highest order–in California as well as in Nebraska (right, Desert?) They also mentioned Roger Craig, I. M. Hipp, and Mike Rozier in their memory-lane tour of Nebraska football history.

Well, those guys played for the Huskers in better days. For now, Nebraska fans are quite happy with a 37-29 victory and a hell of a game that was fun to watch into the bargain.



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Hard Saturdays

Well here it is Saturday morning and I’m watching College Game Day, hoping that they won’t mention Nebraska.  Faithful readers of this blog will notice a change–in the past I’ve complained here about ESPN’s lack of coverage of Nebraska football, as well as that played in the Big Ten overall.

Well this year the Big Ten is getting plenty of coverage. Ohio State is ranked number one in the country, while Michigan State is ranked fourth (or seventh, depending on whose poll you consult). Michigan, Iowa, and Northwestern all rank in the top twenty. This is great news for the conference, not least because good publicity moves donors to contribute to academic programs.

But these facts are cold comfort to Cornhusker fans, whose team record is 2 and 4. Yep, you read right:  2 wins, 4 losses. It doesn’t help that we lost each of those games by three points or fewer.

I know, I’m whining. Allow me, though, to point to a little history. The last time Nebraska put up a won-loss record this bad was in–get ready–1954! Sixty years! I was in grade school in 1954, eleven years old, wearing braids and bobby sox. (You can find the Huskers’ scoring history at http://www.huskers.com/pdf9/2760511.pdf?DB_OEM_ID=100).

So for most of my life the Nebraska Cornhuskers have been winners, and losing is hard to get used to. Things are not going to improve, either, outside of some sort of miracle. Nebraska is now in the heart of its Big Ten schedule, bringing the worst win-loss record in sixty years into a conference wherein, this year, even perennial fodder like Purdue and Indiana are striking sparks on occasion.

OTOH, Nebraska’s volleyball team is ranked third nationally.  The women look really good, especially on defense. So there’s that.

And Inky is glad today is Saturday. He’s getting mighty tired of my hovering over his every move.

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No, Not The Same

ncf_g_orangebowl_600Turner Gill Prepares To Throw The Famous Two-Point Conversion Attempt

Yesterday Nebraska played Miami in the second of a home-and-home series. They lost 36-33. This morning the pundits on ESPN are comparing this game to the famous 1983 Orange Bowl, where Miami beat Nebraska 31-30. That game is famous because Tom Osborne, Nebraska’s coach, decided to try for a two-point conversion to win, rather than tie, the game. The attempt failed and Nebraska lost its chance to become national champion that year.

That was a shame, because Nebraska was undefeated until the Orange Bowl game. They beat everybody they played that season by 50 points or more. Miami, on the other hand, lost its first few games, but managed to win its conference. In other words, both teams were very good that year.

All that being said (political pundits use this phrase when they are about to diss a candidate), that’s where the similarity to yesterday’s game ends. Neither of the current teams is very good. Nonetheless, Miami was the better of two middling teams for most of the game, scoring two touchdowns in the first quarter before Nebraska even figured out where the goalposts were. The gameplay was rife with missed tackles and dropped passes, and so disastrous for Nebraska, that I turned it off during the third quarter. I don’t remember ever doing that before.

Desert called me a few minutes later and said “Turn it on–Nebraska has tied the game!” Sure enough, the score was 33-33. Apparently Nebraska’s quarterback, Tommie Armstrong (great name for a QB), decided to win the game all by himself. He threw pass after pass and scored 23 points in the final quarter. But it wasn’t enough. Miami managed to kick a field goal in the final seconds of the game.

So now Nebraska has one win and two losses. The team has not turned in such a lackluster tally since the horrible days when Bill Callahan was coach in the early 2000s (those games were so bad I used to hunt for photos of Callahan on the sidelines, just to make sure he had remembered to attend). During the early quarters yesterday I reckoned that we’d end up 5-7 on the year, which, as someone mourned on a Nebraska website, puts us in “Iowa-Minnesota territory.” Trouble is, Iowa and Minnesota are both pretty good this year.

Predictably, the Nebraska forums are full of naysayers who are ready to fire the new coach. Mike Reilly. I’d bet my social security check that these are the same clowns who argued so ferociously for Bo Pelini to be fired last year–the tone of their rants is exactly the same.

They should calm down. Reilly is a better coach. He has helped Armstrong enormously. Furthermore, Reilly knows how to adapt to new situations–something Pelini was never able to do. Reilly’s team has lost two games by single plays–a hail Mary and a late field goal. In other words, his teams don’t give up, as Pelini’s sometimes used to do. And after all, Ameer Abdullah is now playing in Detroit.

Given time and Nebraska’s resources, Reilly has the potential to get Nebraska winning again. But maybe not this year.

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A Reminiscence

huskers1965offenseOn Saturday last, the University of Nebraska honored members of its 1965 football team. That was the first Nebraska team ever to be ranked first nationally. They were good–the ’65 team won all their games in the Big Eight by double digits. Their only defeat came in the Orange Bowl, where they lost the national championship to Alabama.

That year marked the beginning of Nebraska’s glory days, although none of us knew that at the time.

I graduated from Nebraska in 1965. Students’ season tickets sold for ten dollars, believe it or not, and I attended every home game–as did every other student I knew. I wasn’t acquainted with any of the football players personally, but of course every student at Nebraska had heard of Freeman White, Tony Jeter, Frank Solich, and so on. It was a mark of pride even by association to be able to say something like “my girlfriend is dating the fullback.”

I’d been to parties where these fellows occasionally appeared, usually during summertime and usually to much acclaim. I was never introduced, perhaps because I was, after all, an English major. In senior year, though, my roommate and I were proficient at shuffleboard (in those days women had to have an excuse to hang out at the local bar) and we occasionally played against hulking guys whose entry into the bar would engender a whispered “wow–that’s so-and so.” Usually football players were not very good at the game, given that it requires subtlety rather than brute strength. No matter; they cheerfully bought us the requisite beer when they lost.

Ah, memories. I’m happy the university recognized these great former players, most of whom did not go on to the NFL but made successful careers in other ways. I was sort of shocked, though, to see that they have all grown old.  ; )


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Holy Moroni!

maxresdefaultThat’s what you call a “Hail Mary” when it is thrown by a quarterback from BYU.

What a stunner. After a prolonged struggle between two evenly-matched teams, one second remains in the game. The score is Nebraska 28, BYU 27. The BYU quarterback is on his own 40-yard line. He is a second-stringer.

No sweat, right?  Not. He throws the damn ball toward the endzone. BYU catches it right on the goal line.

New rule:  quarterbacks are not allowed to go on mission.

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