H U S K E R D A N
DAN KICKS OFF THE 2004 SEASON B.C.
you were captured by space aliens and have been living on the planet Xzergnog
for the past nine months, you know there have been some changes to the
Husker football program. BIG changes.
In just a few days, the start of a brand new era of Husker football will
begin-the 2004 Bill Callahan era. Gone is six year head coach Frank Solich,
eight assistants, including the offensive and defensive coordinators.
The option offense (gasp!) has gone bye-bye; there's a new strength and
conditioning coach, and the walk-on program as we've known it for decades,
has also been overhauled.
Not since 1962 has there been such wholesale change at Nebraska. To be
sure, the coaching transitions in '73 and '98 went smoothly, largely because
the assistant coaching staffs remained in tact.
But this fall, Husker fans will need a program to keep track of all the
new coaches. Ex-Oakland Raiders and first year Nebraska head football
coach Bill Callahan brings with him not only a new staff and a brand new
offense, but an entirely new vision for the Husker football program. The
coach even talks openly (gasp!) about the pursuit of a national championship.
What a concept.
It's true that talk is cheap, especially in August, before the Huskers
face road games at Pittsburgh, K-State, Oklahoma and Texas Tech. Throw
in home games with Southern Mississippi and Missouri and the Huskers will
need more than just talk to get them through a demanding season.
RED AT THE TOP
There are ample reasons for the Huskers to not be considered as contenders
for the Big 12 North division this year-new coaches, a new offense, a
thin O-line, an untested quarterback crew and an inexperienced offensive
backfield. But don't tell the Husker players and coaches that. Not this
year. Not with this coaching staff. Not with this defense and not with
the potential of the new offense. And the Huskers just might have a schedule
that is favorable to them and could be catching the BTN at the right time.
Here's a look:
HUSKERS' 2004 SCHEDULE
WESTERN ILLINOIS: (W) September 4th
This will be as competitive as the Spring Game. A perfect home opener
to break in the new Husker offense.
SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI: (W) September 11th
This could be a very tough game for the inexperienced Huskers, but Coach
Callahan and the Blackshirts will be prepared.
@PITTSBURGH: (W) September 18th
This is not the Panther team of recent years. This is a winnable game
for the Huskers and should help the them recruit in the eastern states.
OPEN DATE (SEPTEMBER 25TH)
KANSAS: (W) October 2nd
The Jayhawks' schedule is a nightmare. It will be tough for Coach Mangino
to build on the
modest momentum of last year's 6-7 bowl team. Relax Kansas fans, Bill
Self will bring the first aid kit.
@TEXAS TECH: (W) October 9th
This is another road game that will be critical for the Huskers to win
if they expect to take the BTN. There might not be any gimmies in the
Big 12 this year, so the Huskers must take care of business in Lubbock.
BAYLOR: (W) October 16th
Okay, so maybe there is one gimmie in the Big 12 this year. The Bears
will continue to hibernate for another year.
@KANSAS STATE: (W) October 23rd
Like Christmas, there is no-Ell this year (groan). The 'Cats host the
Sooners the week before they play the Huskers. Remember, last year without
Ell, the Wildcats lost at home to Marshall U. It's true the Huskers haven't
won at Manhattan since Osborne was at the helm, but the Wildcats will
need more than Sproles to win this game.
MISSOURI: (W) October 30th
The Tigers have Heisman contender Brad Smith returning, but losses in
their O-line, defensive problems and a poor road record make Missouri
beatable, especially in front of 80,000 screaming Husker fans in Lincoln.
@IOWA STATE: (W) November 6th
This is a crucial year for Coach Dan McCarney. The Cyclones are optimistic,
but do they have the talent to compete in the BTN?
@OKLAHOMA: (L) November 13th
Bo Pelini may get his Steve Pederson revenge. Husker fans are hoping that
if the Huskers do lose the game, that NU will at least be competitive.
COLORADO: (W) November 20th
Note: Things are going to get worse for the Buffaloes. Look for a possible
coaching change after this year in Boulder.
HUSKER DAN'S 2004 PERKY, PRESEASON PIGSKIN PROGNOSTICATIONS:
1.) Nebraska will have a winning season and will go to a bowl game.
2.) Bill Callahan will be nominated as Big 12 Coach of the Year.
3.) Courtney Grixby will return at least one punt/and or kickoff for a
touchdown this season.
4.) Fabian Washington, Matt Herian and Josh Bullocks will earn All Big
5..) Darren Sproles will win the Heisman.
6.) Sooner freshman running back Adrian Peterson and Husker receiver Terrence
Nunn will be nominated as the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year.
7.) Sooner quarterback and 2003 Heisman winner, Jason White will not be
the starter by season's end.
8.) Most of Dave Humm's single season passing records at NU will be broken.
9.) Joe Dailey will surprise a lot of people with his ability to run the
West Coast Offense.
10.) Jordan Adams (Ryan Goodman?) and Joe Dailey will see playing time.
11) Cory Ross will have at least 600 yards rushing and 400 yards receiving.
12.) Bill Callahan's name will be mentioned as a candidate for at least
one head coaching job in the NFL.
13.) Bo Ruud will break Jerry Murtaugh's career record of 342 tackles.
14.) The Huskers string of consecutive sellouts will extend to 268.
15.) The Huskers will have at least 14 oral commitments for the '05 recruiting
class by the end of October.
16.) Jim Rose (Husker radio play-by-play man), will find a way to sneak
in 50 cent words such as ignominious, fulgent, churlish and bucolic during
his Husker broadcasts this season.
17.) There will be at least one sports writer who, at the first shaky
performance of the West Coast Offense, will write an article longing for
the days of the Husker option game.
18.) Combined, Husker quarterbacks will throw the ball with a 65% completion
19.) Frank Solich will land a coaching job.
20.) Tom Osborne will announce his plans to run for governor of Nebraska.
21.) The amount of Husker A.D. Steve Pederson's hate mail will drop dramatically.
22.) Bo Pelini will get the revenge he wants against the Huskers and Steve
Pederson in Norman this November.
23.) Bo Pelini will be up for another head coaching job in D-1 (Iowa State,
Colorado?) after the season ends.
24.) Bob Stoops' name will be mentioned as a candidate for at least one
head coaching position in the NFL.
25.) Nebraska's defense will be better than last year.
26.) Nebraska's offense will be better than last year-a LOT better.
27.) Husker Dan will be at the Sidetrack in Lincoln before the Western
28.) Husker Dan will continue to write his column.
29.) And some of you will actually continue to read his stupid column.
HUSKER DAN LETTERS:
Dear Husker Dan:
You really blew it when you said that Bob Stoops has won only one Big
12 championship. He won it twice-2000 and 2002.
Dear Anna: You readers are great. You also know Husker Dan's penchant
for making intentional errors, just to see if all of you are paying attention...Yeah,
that's the ticket. Thanks for writing.
Dear Husker Dan:
I read your "Trivia" test and beg to differ with you regarding
the last time the Huskers played Pitt. It was in 1958, not '57. And your
reference to the Huskers "Wild Bill Callahan" was spelled incorrectly.
"Wild Bill's" last name is spelled Callihan. Also, it's Lyell
Bremser, not Lyle. Also, you said "Ture or False" and you should
have used "versus" and not verses.
Regarding Pitt: You are right, but that's not what the question was. It
was about when the Huskers last played the Panthers at Pittsburgh. They
last played there in 1957. As far as your point about Callahan, I found
conflicting information. In the 1971 book "Go Big Red, The Road to
No. 1" written by Howard Silber, James Denney and Hollis J. Limprecht,
the name is listed several times as Callahan. However, in the Husker press
guide, his name is spelled with an "i". Alos...er also, regarding
the "Ture or False", Lyell vs Lyle and verses vs versus: The
sharp, dedicated, experienced and talented editor Husker Dan had last
year at huskerpedia would NEVER have allowed such oversights to happen...
:) Thanks for writing.
Dear Husker Dan:
Dude! I just read your Trivia Test. What are you, like 80? Why don't you
make a test that someone who was born after air was invented and give
us young guys a chance to get some of these answers?
Dear Ollie (aka You Little Whipper-Snapper):
I'm not 80...yet. The purpose of my Trivia test is to show how much I
know about Husker football and how little you know... Just kidding. I
think it's good to know there have been great players, coaches and teams
waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay before, let's say, (gasp!) Jammal Lord and Frank Solich.
Thanks for writing. Now, if I can just find my walker...
Dear Husker Dan:
Your trivia question #32 should have mentioned that the Huskers also had
an unbeaten and unscored upon team in 1902.
Dear Matt: Once again, you caught my intentional error...Thanks for writing.
"YOU MIGHT BE A HUSKER FAN IF"
Dear Husker Dan:
I really liked your recent (August) version of "You Might Be A Husker
Fan If..." I'd like to add one more to your list:
*You live in Colorado, wear red constantly, and remind your poor, addled
Buff friends not to worry about scandals and "let the (Ralphie) chips
fall where they may".
Dear David: Good one! Thanks for writing.
REMARK-A BALL OFFENSE
Mrs. Husker Dan and I stopped this summer at the Sapp Brothers truck stop
in Ogallala, Nebraska. There was a Husker tee-shirt for sale that said:
Nebraska Football Is:
GO BIG FRED
Fred Kotrous was a passionate Husker fan. He grew up in tough times during
the 20s and 30s on a farm in rural northeastern Nebraska. Early in his
life, he developed a love for football, even dreamed of playing the game
one day. But the country was in the midst of the Great Depression and
there just wasn't any money for frivolous things like footballs. So young
Freddie got creative and made one by sewing together parts from old innertubes.
He and his brothers would play for hours and when he got bigger, Freddie
got his chance to play varsity football for the Verdigre High School Hawks.
He soon became a devoted Husker fan. On a cold New Year's Day in 1941,
Freddie and his brothers LeRoy and Frank, walked several miles from their
farm west of Verdigre to a local hangout in town just so they could listen
to the radio broadcast of the Huskers and Stanford University in the Rose
Bowl game. Uncle Freddie (he was my mother's brother) even made a scrapbook
that included pictures and write-ups about the game.
He attended Husker home games whenever he could find tickets and when
he couldn't, he would catch the Huskers on radio or TV. He liked to turn
down the volume on his TV and listen to radio broadcasts by Lyell Bremser
and Kent Pavelka.
He would get angry when the Huskers didn't do well (he once threw the
remote at the TV in disgust). And to make sure he was doing everything
he could to help the Huskers when they were in struggling on TV, he would
get up from his living room chair during the game, come back wearing a
new Husker outfit and in doing so, was sure he could change the Huskers'
He and his wife, my Aunt Norma, had 7 children and 14 grandchildren. When
his grandkids were born, he bought everyone of them a brand new Big Red
Husker outfit. He wanted to make sure they would grow up to be Husker
His daughter, Becky, likes to tell the story about the day he showed up
for his granddaughter Tina's wedding. He hadn't seen Becky for quite awhile
and his first words to her didn't have anything to do with her or the
wedding. Instead, it was, "Did you hear that Bob Devaney died?"
Uncle Freddie was looking forward to the coming Husker season. He wasn't
sure if the new West Coast Offense would work (he preferred the Husker
power running game). He was also was anxious to see if the new coaching
staff would be able to keep up the Huskers' winning tradition. But no
matter what, he planned to keep on cheering for his Huskers this fall.
But several weeks ago, Uncle Freddie developed a bad cough that he couldn't
seem to shake. At first, the doctors thought it was just a chest cold,
but he didn't seem to be getting any better. Further tests were ordered.
Tragically, the results showed that he had an advanced stage of lung cancer
and to make matters worse, the doctors said that it had spread to his
Earlier this August, about a month shy of his 80th birthday and just weeks
before the start of the 2004 Husker football season, Uncle Freddie lost
his battle with cancer.
In fitting tribute to his love for the Huskers, he was buried wearing
his favorite red Husker sweater, his Big Red socks, his bluejeans and
with his old Husker jacket lying beside him. During the church service
honoring Uncle Freddie, several of his grandchildren came down the aisle,
one by one, bringing objects that had been of importance to their grandfather.
James, Uncle Freddie's 4 1/2 year old grandson and the first one down
the aisle, carried a Husker football helmet to represent his granddad's
love for the Big Red.
Uncle Freddie farmed for many years and was a loyal Cornhusker fan most
of his life, so it was fitting that he was buried on a hilltop, not more
than a couple of first downs from a large corn field. Although he won't
be able to root for the Huskers in person this fall , he will be with
his Huskers in spirit, cheering on the Big Red and occasionally tossing,
when necessary, a perfectly good remote control at his heavenly TV screen.
You may email Husker Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To view all of Husker Dan's past columns click
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