SALUTE TO NEBRASKA FANS
by Tim Prister - Blue & Gold Illustrated editor
Date: September 10, 2001
LINCOLN, Neb. - I could rehash Notre Dame's pathetic performance in
Memorial Stadium against Nebraska Saturday evening. I could talk
about the porous defensive line, the unimaginative offense and the sloppy,
undisciplined play. But that's nothing that you didn't see
yourself. You had to be in Memorial Stadium, however, to appreciate what
remarkable fans Nebraska has. Oh, sure, they were vociferous in favor of
the home team. There are lots of places that are loud. Tennessee can be
loud. Penn State, when the Nittany Lions are at the top of their game, can
loud. LSU can be loud. But this is different. There is a reverence for the
There is reverence, in particular, for Notre Dame and its tradition.
First of all, you don't get the typical reaction toward the opponent
that you get elsewhere. I've been spit upon and called the most disgusting
things, simply because it's obvious that I'm a member of the Notre Dame
media contingent. I've heard and seen slobbering drunk fans use the most
vile language directed toward 18-year-old football players. It's been so
bad at times that it makes you second-guess what you do for a living.
But here's what I witnessed after the game Saturday night. As the Irish
players exited the field through a tunnel, every Nebraska fan in that
area - and that was everyone since there was only a tiny pocket of
Irish fans, and they were on the other side of the stadium - stood and
cheered - no, honored - the Notre Dame team. That was incredible in itself.
But the fans formed a tunnel all the way up to the Notre Dame locker room
entrance. I would guess it was 40 yards long. Nebraska fans, lined up on
each side, cheered, clapped, slapped the Notre Dame players on the back,
tried to make them feel good even though they had just been embarrassed.
I didn't know which Nebraska fan to say it to, so I finally just stopped
and said to the nearest red-clad fan: "I've been covering Notre Dame
football for 20 years, and I've never seen anything like this. You are
the most incredible fans I've ever seen." Again, I've been in places such
as Ohio State, where the players would have been told about how bad they
sucked and that they should take their !$?*!?!#? butts home. I've heard
slobbering drunk Pittsburgh fans say things about players' mothers that
would make you cringe in disgust.
In Lincoln, however, is what college
football perhaps once was. This was what college football was meant to
be. Fans loving their team, respecting the other and letting go of any
animosity once the game is concluded. Now granted, the Cornhuskers won
by 17 points. Maybe they would have been a little ornery had the Irish
pulled out a victory. Plus, Nebraska football isn't the only game in town;
it's the only game in the state! But it was still special, and I don't
fans would have been any different had the Irish won. In fact, I think
their respect and admiration would have been that much greater.
you're a Nebraska fan reading this, God bless you. If you know a Nebraska
fan, please give him a copy of this because his attitude is a dying breed
in college football stadiums across the country. And if you think this is
sickening babble from a lightweight sportswriter who can't take the heat,
well, it was you that I was writing about with such disdain. Take a lesson
from the Nebraska fans. They're the most incredible I've ever seen.