Commentary by David Max
An omen of what was to come in the homecoming game against Oklahoma State may have occurred on my plane flight last Friday on the way to the game. I was waiting to board at the Ontario, CA airport and there was a guy with a USC cap on having a conversation with a Nebraska fan. The guy (Matt) was also a Nebraska fan but he happened to be on the USC campus and decided to buy a USC cap as a way of voicing his displeasure with the current state of the Huskers. He has been attending Nebraska games for 25 years and his seats are close to Outland Trophy winner Larry Jacobson's seats. He says Larry is still passionate about the Huskers and gets excited at the games. He was still planning on going to the game on Saturday.
I am sure there are a lot of Husker fans like Matt who seem to have lost their Husker identity with the way this season is playing out. The ones of us that are old enough to remember the start of the modern era of Nebraska football that began in 1962 hoped that we would never experience what happened on Saturday. Nebraska football has gone from the era of smash mouth hard working overachieving Midwest work ethic individuals playing competitive football as a team with a unified fan base to a divided fan base that has been on one side or the other of the Pederson/Callahan/Solich fence and the product on the field is now producing results that we haven't seen since 1958. The one silver lining that has occurred in recent weeks is the fan base seems to be coming unified once again. They will not lower their expectations of their vision of the Nebraska football program that has been a part of their life since birth. The passion of the Nebraska football fan base is still there and is alive and well. I received over 150 responses from my last commentary, many of them several paragaraphs long from people that took a lot of time to articulate their feelings about the current state of the Husker program. If you would like to read these responses they are listed here in reverse chronologic order and go on for ten pages as I did not leave any out.
The national media is picking up on the "What is happening to Nebraska?" story and we won't get any slack from any of our future opponents. Many are wondering if Nebraska will win another game this season. After the last two games that is a real concern. The media is circling like sharks in bloody water and it is turning into a feeding frenzy. Everyone likes to see the "big dogs" fall. I was at the watch site in San Clemente, CA for the Missouri game and when Stanford caught the winning touchdown pass half the bar stood up and cheered. When I was a graduate student at Indiana we hated losing constantly to the Michigans and Ohio States of the world. Oklahoma State relished their first win in Memorial Stadium since the Bill Jennings era and took a team picture and sang the fight song before leaving the field. I plan on being in Memorial Stadium in four years when they visit again and watch a different result. Yes, the remaining Nebraska fans did clap as both teams left the field.
Many fans are calling for sweeping changes in personnel and they want it now. What changes will happen and when they happen remain to be seen but it will happen. The one thing all Nebraska fans are unified on is that things cannot stay the way they are now. I am old enough to personally remember Bob Devaney's first season in 1962 and enjoying over four decades of competitive teams with winning seasons and five national championships. I am confident that I will once again witness the "Real Nebraska" that has the passion of a Jason Peter and a Jerry Murtaugh and teams with the fan base that EXPECT to win every time they go onto the field. The first National Championship that I attended in person was the Miami game on January 1, 1995. I will never forget the exhiliration that I felt that day after that 23 year drought of frustrating losses and near misses and sharing that feeling with other Nebraska fans in the old Orange Bowl and at the team hotel afterward. I am confident that I will have that experience again and when I do it will be that much sweeter because the recent losses are far more frustrating than any that I have experienced during the "Real Nebraska" era.
I will continue to support the current team and let them know that I do appreciate them dealing with what must seem like an insurmountable onslaught of negative media and fan attention. It really must seem like a snowball going downhill to them. I will be at the Texas game in Austin and I will continue to wear Nebraska logo gear (my wife swears I don't own anything else) and take the ribbing from my USC neighbors and co-workers. The UCLA fans are more in the misery loves company mode. I will also be at the Kansas State game to cheer each senior as they come onto the field for the last time.
The one thing I am confident in is that the current situation will get better and it will get better because of the Nebraska fan base. We will stick together in all kinds of weather.
Just my 2 cents. What about yours?
PS, If you do decide that you want to voice your dissatisfaction by not going to the remaining two home games please consider donating your tickets to a veteran. You can contact Larry Rempe at the Nebraska Book Store to donate your tickets to a veteran and his family. They are doing a Tickets for Veterans program for the October 21st volleyball match with Hawaii.
PPS, If you are in a "I've got to do something to feel better." mood please consider donating to this Oskosh, Nebraska based non-profit organization that provides hunting and fishing experiences to the physically handicapped. You will feel better.
GO BIG RED!!!