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AngryDadheader (22K)
12/02/2010 
 

NOTE: Thanks to Tyler T. for suggesting Angry Dad get all Twitterd up so I can spout off somewhere new. Feel free to follow @NUAngryDad (just dont expect cybermagic).

First, The Last Game
Watching the last game in the series, with jolly coach Cabral and all the Buff players accepting their unapologetic obliteration with handshakes and smiles it was tough not to wonder wheres the hate? The reality is the teeth and venom in the CU series died somewhere around 2003 - 2004 when both programs found themselves with bigger, uglier carp to fry. However, NUs load of dealing with a slippery AD who, in a matter of months, was destroying Husker tradition that took 40 years to build was a feather when compared to the 15 years of sleazy tactics and cover-ups that finally avalanched in on the entire CU Athletic Department. Clearly the Cold War has ended and this time the Reds won, which is poetic justice because it was a war NU never wanted in the first place.

Just a few observations about the game. First, hey Taylor **whistle**, over here son, the games over here big fella... Was it just me, or was it every time they showed T-me on TV he was along the back fence jawing; often not even facing the field? I tend to like the injured guy whos involved in cheering on his team from the sidelines. Just a gut feel, but Im still not totally sold on this somewhat odd kids concept of team. Maybe someone should remind him theres no me in team, err wait a minute, how does that work again?

Next, Bo angrily stated in the post-game presser that a lot of people tried to tear down the program, but we werent going to let them. So should we consider that to mean apology rescinded? Does he feel a nice win over 5 - 7 CU now justifies poking and dressing down his players on national TV? I cant say the tude, one week after a regrettable situation, gives huge confidence that Bo has figured it all out yet. I love the fire, but he should already know that everyones got a gun, but hes the only one that can give them the ammo. Sure, were about to face a classic OU rival with a coach that does the same stuff and worse every week, but that doesnt matter. NU for whatever reason is always held to a higher standard, so best learn to accept it, since it comes with the territory.

Speaking of regrettable behavior, on to a Farewell to Arms with the series with the Buffs.

University of Colorado Buffaloes 1898 - 1907 | 1948 - 2010
Series History NU 49 - CU 18 - T 2

a.k.a. CU, Buffs, Puffs, Sluffs, sCUm, Vermin, etc

Boulder, Colorado; a breathtaking college town carved into the Rocky Mountains where an average dorm room has the view of a thousand dollar-a-night hotel. An open-face, old-school stadium with an amazing backdrop; an iconic, 1,300-pound charging beast that evokes visions of 200 years of Plains heritage that spans the Nebraska and Colorado territories. Two century-old universities steeped in traditions and complete with throwback uniforms. It was the perfect recipe to form a global definition for classic collegiate football rivalryuntil you added in the Coloradoans. Never in history has a perfect brew been so spoiled being forced to add an ingredient as tasteless, yet pungent as Buff Nation. The end result was dumping the whole kettle down the drain where all the incredible potential and the whole series itself would hopelessly reside in the sewer.

I just assumed it would be just as easy, if not easier to jab and goof on the Buffs, but after dusting off my few remaining brain cells from the late 80s and 90s, I realized this series was ugly. I mean uh-uh-ugly, Fin ugly or fugly as some say. It was so ugly that even the most Osborne-esque of NU cheek turners was susceptible to chuckling at a phrase concocted by a rogue group of NU partisans that made light of a Buff player that lost a battle to cancer. Ill admit freely that I probably lost half a Coors Light through my nose with my first hearing of Sal is Dead, Go Big Red! Sure, I felt bad about it and Ill get more specific on that a little later, but again, for those of you not embroiled in it or knowing the history, theres a sample of how despicable it became. Brace yourself as this column wont be pretty either, because to do it justice I must for one last time exhume long since filed away fugliness to truly convey the foulness of this series.

Heres Billy Mac!
It all started in 1982 when Bill McCartney, a University of Michigan assistant under Bo Schembechler, was hired as the evangelist to turn around a moribund CU program that Chuck Fairbanks, a journeyman bad influence, had torched after three years at the helm. McCartneys mantra was that if we beat Nebraska, then we know we have a good team, so he insisted that the only RED object on campus be the NU game on the schedule, with a big fat circle around it. Fair enough, you cant fault gunning for the best and NU was a logical target. It wasnt such a nasty concept, although McCartney made no bones that if you wanted it bad enough you had to hate a little. The first few years were bleak, but CU made strides in 85 with a 7-5 bowl losing season and then...

NU vs. CU 1986: McCartneys unranked Buffalos shocked a looking-forward, 3rd ranked NU 20 - 10 in Boulder in front of a partisan red clad crowd mixed-in with the typical smattering of inebriated students and season ticket holders just looking for a place to drink. A halfback gadget pass sealed the deal and even though the Buffs only went 6 6 overall, the taste of beating NU was every bit as sweet as spiking a stadium beer with a shot of warm whiskey and the 1986 season was deemed a major success.

My CU Experience, Probably A Lot Like Yours
I can never say that on the field of play CU wasnt exciting and they made all kinds of games thrilling, usually in the years they had no business doing so. Outside the lines however, I can honestly say I never found a single redeeming quality surrounding the CU program and that comes from a lot of experience trying. At every Folsom Freakshow I attended, I was pelted and cursed for no reason. I witnessed drunken 40+ year old guys yelling obscenities skyward for the whole game just because I was sitting in their section. I spent a few years as a regular on ESPNs College Football Chat in the mid-late 90s (yeah, I know Im a geek) and cant remember one time that a Buff fan arrived to do anything but tear down Nebraska. Even my fairly mild-mannered father who lives in the Castle Pines burb of Denver would go to 50-something wine and cheese game parties wearing a red sweater and half the time was relentlessly accosted by a drunkard telling one tasteless Nebraska joke after another. So persistent it went from ha-ha, very funny, to why dont you just shut your hole now before I face plant you in the brie.

You Suck, We Have Mountains
Just like on ABC, Im sure youd rather get more highlights instead of my 5 minute Dr. Lou psychology segment on Coloradoans, but its necessary to try to explain how this all transpired. Anyone thats worn red to a game in Boulder over the last 20 years was at least once if not a dozen times hit with the oh yeah, well you still have to live in Nebraska line on the way out the door. The thing about Colorado is, take away the Rockies and what do you really have? Sure, Denver qualifies as a major city but frankly, compared to just about every major city and college town Ive ever been to, its a flavorless yawner. Anyway, lets stop foolishly pretending they dont have the Rocky Mountains, because they do and with them comes the only unique identity Coloradoans have. And, as if living near a beautiful and intriguing landscape gives them some squatters rights to take credit for Gods creation, they genuinely seem to believe their proximity to the mountains automatically makes them pretty and interesting too. Combine the whole mountain thing with their second-city insecurities and you get a bunch of people desperate to tell anyone that will listen how superior they are; especially over the likes of silly Nebraskans who only have boring corn to stand next to.

The out-of-nowhere, rapidly forming bandwagon mob that became Buff Nation needed help taking the next step of brazenly and outwardly bashing an entire state and its proud people; because in reality most of them really couldnt have cared less about football, but were definitely up for any cause that allowed them hide in the comfort of like-minded strangers also feeling a need to voice their perceived superiority over others. They just needed someone to tell them how to do it.

False Prophet Woody Paige
I credit a Denver Post columnist named Woody Paige for fueling the fledgling Buff Nation as he led by example to show not only is it perfectly OK, its funny to label all Nebraskans as inbred, toothless simps and then accuse us of not having a sense of humor for not seeing how funny it is to be accused of sleeping with our mothers. This was before Al Gore invented the internet, so Woody was the only guru in town to shepherd this lost mass of insecure Coloradoans that relied on piles of rocks for their identities and they looked to him to tell them how and what to think. Woody quickly ascended to Buff Nations false prophet; instant relieving the Coloradoans by teaching them things like sportsmanship and character were only for people that didnt have mountains and Nebraskans that seemed comfortable living without mountains were clearly imbeciles and needed to be told.

CU vs. NU 1988: After reestablishing the natural order of things in 87 with a dominating 24 7 win, NU now faced a 19th ranked Buff team in Lincoln. In a scoreless tie, Buff RB JJ Flanagan found himself running completely free on a sure 40+ yard TD run. Funny thing happened on the way to the endzone however as he inexplicably dropped the ball, just dropped it. CU recovered on the NU 19, but Broderick Thomas sacked CU out of FG range and the Buffs came away empty. A 3rd Q, Husker TD was all that was needed and all NU got in a bizarre 7 - 0 win.

What Price Glory?
In the spring of 1989 Rick Reilly of SI outlined in a feature article how the Buffs rapid ascent was not all due to good coaching (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1126580/1/index.htm). In a scathing piece that painted the CU administration as turning a blind eye for over two dozen arrests (and almost 40 that we know of by 1991) and 65 times players were contacted on police matters. The incidents, falsely spun by excuse-making Buff fans as mostly bar brawls, involved numerous violent attacks on women, multiple rapes including a serial rapist, credit card fraud, players shaking down business debts, a few DUIs, and yes, a few bar fights, initiated by CU players, that left people seriously injured.

Instead of random, non-contributor Riley Washington type names, the Buffs arrestee list matched CUs starting lineup; JJ Flanagan, Kanavis McGhee, Eric Bieniemy, and even Saint Sal Aunese who spent 12 nights in jail. Dan Ralph, a nose tackle was kicked off the team, then reinstated, and then given a position as a GA on McCartneys staff.

To illustrate how much CU has learned over the past 20 years, the list of names surfacing for CUs current coaching search could almost be cross-referenced with the Buffs arrest reports, with zookeeper McCartney himself and Bieniemy mentioned at or near the top of the list. Whats astounding and will recur throughout this piece is how CUs administration fails to learn any lessons and eternally makes up ridiculous excuses for unforgivable occurrences. A quality that shockingly trickles down to the forgive-all, forget-all fan that then ridiculously and hypocritically points to any and all imperfections of NU, which by comparison are like a gnat on a Buffalos butt.

Sal Aunese
Sal Aunese was the prized QB recruit McCartney needed to fuel his NU-copied option attack. A Prop 48 that had to sit in 1986. He came on quickly in 87; named Big 8 newcomer and then impregnating the coachs daughter in 88. After the 1988 season Sal was also diagnosed with inoperable stomach cancer that would be imminently fatal. Although McCartney tried hiding the fact that Aunese was his daughters baby-daddy, it leaked so McCartney quickly embraced the idea. Even though Bills highly conservative religious beliefs would likely deem Auneses actions smote-worthy by God in the way Sal never formally dated his daughter, pressured her to abort, and refused to see her much less marry her; McCartney still propped up malignant Sal as an inspiration to us all.

Aunese died in the middle of the 1989 season, but not before his baby-momma gave birth and Sal was good enough to make his current girlfriend wait in the lobby while he visited his newborn child in the hospital. McCartney and the Colorado media told us not to remember Sal as a convict, prone to violence with no accountability, but more so as a hero, because he lost the gene pool lottery and died younger than most people do.

They Had the Audacity to Said What?
McCartney was chastised by multiple media outlets for being insincere and exploiting Sals death. The Buff fans no-holds-barred, lowbrow attack on Nebraska continued relentlessly, but now also postured themselves as wholly immune to criticism; the caring community mourning the loss of poor Sal. All in all it was a pretty shameless display and then, finally, someone put into six words and spoke aloud what was in the remote corners of many of our minds; Sal is dead, Go Big Red! Yeah, even with all of Auneses shortcomings, it was a pretty low blow, but it still ranked about two rungs higher on the culture ladder than any Woody Paige column and five rungs above the typical raging Buff fan. And no, as far as I know, no one ran out and made T-shirts. Of course, when Buff Nation got wind of it they made yet another federal production out of how horrible ALL Nebraskans were; but you know, by now I didnt really care. I figured it was probably about time someone stood up for Nebraska and I lost a half-a-beer through my nose the first time I heard it, just before kinda feeling bad about laughing.

NU vs. CU 1989: Now a tough ticket to get, #3 NU returned to Boulder for a Black-Out game against a now 2nd ranked Buff squad. In between being pelted by empty cups and insults directed at their mothers, Husker fans watched CUs rap-sheet pull out a 27 -21 win, aided by two long punt returns that setup easy scores. CU went 11 1, with their only blemish being a defacto National Title game loss in the Orange Bowl to Notre Dame. Meanwhile NUs only other loss was a 17 - 41 beat down by Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl.

CU vs. NU 1990: Even already with a loss and a tie, CU visited Lincoln intent on a return trip to Miami and possible National Title. They would need a win at Memorial Stadium for the first time since 1967 against #3 NU. NU entered the 4th Q with a 12 - 0 lead, but convict Bieniemy finally found some stick-um after 3 costly fumbles and ran for four 4th quarter TDs to win the game 27 - 12. NU proved to be a bit of a pretender that year with subsequent blowout losses to OU 10 - 45 and eventual co-National Champ Georgia Tech 21 - 45.

CU, living under a lucky star all year did make the Orange Bowl and even with a loss, a tie, and an unfathomable 5th down win at Missouri, also had the NC on the line again against ND. CU then benefited from a phantom clipping call on a Rocket Ismail punt return that wouldve sealed a victory for ND. Instead, CU held on for a 10 9 win and was bestowed the NC by the AP Poll.

Ironically, NU controlled CUs fate for the UPI / Coaches Poll by playing an undefeated, #2 Georgia Tech in the Citrus Bowl; a team widely regarded as a paper tiger because of a weak schedule. The blowout win over mighty NU convinced many that GT was legit, but still only carried the poll by one point. The only voting coach that played both teams was named Tom Osborne and his two points went to...the Yellow Jackets incensing CU fans to no end. Frankly, if a more subtly wise man than Dr. Tom has ever walked this mortar coil, Ive yet to meet him.

NU vs. CU 1991: This 19 19 tie in a sub-zero weather game in Boulder, was defined by an uncalled clip on NUs TE Johnnie Mitchell preventing him from making a sure tackle on a blocked NU extra point that CU returned for 2 points. Also, Buff Nation chose to pelt Byron Bennett with snowballs and oranges as he lined up for a winning, 42 yard FG attempt. Again the officials did nothing, with the projectiles arguably impacting the play that resulted in a block. Regardless, although they rarely went down quietly, this was the last time CU would get even half the last laugh on NU for 10 years.

CU vs. NU 1994: In what #2 CU viewed as a formality in returning to the National Championship, this time undefeated; they simply needed to beat overrated #3 NU with Tommie Frazier sidelined with blood clots. With CU having a stacked team that included Kordell Stewart, Rashan Salaam, Bryan Westbrook and Ray Carruth. NU was written off by everyone as the Buff noise in the newspapers and on radio talk shows reached maximum volume. CU posted a sign in their locker room that said Red is Dead. Rumors abounded that Stewart and Salaam had said something to the nature of were going to have fun with Nebraskas defense. And then, they teed it up.

Indeed it was the type of merciless pounding most expected, but it was the Blackshirts doing the pounding. Stewart was sacked 4 times, which scarcely described the harassment he faced all afternoon. The late Brook Berringer played nearly a flawless game, picking apart the CU D for 142 yards passing and making perfect reads on the option. As both CU front lines ran completely out of gas, the Huskers looked like they wanted to go another 60 minutes.

Few wins were ever more rewarding, barring perhaps a few games later when NU smashed Colorados role model Miami to win Dr. Tom his first NC as HC. The 1994 Huskers defined the words team and discipline and pride. CUs big, brash, talk was silenced and Dr. Tom said We were real pleased with the effort of our players. Enough said.

Just When Things Were Getting Good
In a surprise move, Bill McCartney announced at the end of the 1994 season that he was retiring to pursue Gods work with the Promise Keepers religious sect he co-founded in 1990. Of course, I like to believe Bill, now with 4 straight losses to NU, took a peek at the Huskers foreseeable depth chart and then made his choice.

McCartney finished his 13 year CU career with 1 split National Title, 2 1/2 conference titles, 3 bowl wins, a 3 - 9 - 1 record against NU, a 49% graduation rate, actually two illegitimate grandchildren from two different players, and roughly 50 team arrests between 86 and 94; all CU records. He also would be remembered by a large, rabid, foul-mouthed Buff Nation that he did nothing to discourage from hating an entire state of decent people. I cant help but thinking that if doing Gods work required a resume just like any regular job, Bill would have a hard time making the first cut.

Rick Vesty-boy Neuheisel
CU promoted its spunky young QB coach Rick Neuheisel to HC at the age of 34. Rick coached for 4 years, then bailed out of Boulder for Washington in the nick of time before the NCAA let CU know how it felt about Vesty-boys recruiting practices in the form of 51 recruiting violations on his watch. Although all 4 Vesty games, all NU wins, are worth rehashing, Im just running out of ink. But I do highly recommend though that you go through the HuskerMax archives to get the flavor of the 1995 1998 CU games that obviously were a good time for NU football.

Also notable in this timeframe is Al Gores internet invention had really caught on and a frustrated Buff Nation, having endured 7 losses in a row by the end of Rickys tenure, flooded message boards and chat rooms with the sole of downgrading NUs success with talk of what a dirty program NU ran with guys like Lawrence Phillips, Christian Peter, Lawrence Phillips, and a guy with a DUI, Lawrence Phillips, and another guy with a DUI, Lawrence Phillips, Lawrence Phillips and Lawrence Phillips. Never mind that NU actually punished its offenders, had less than 1 / 5 the incidents with nowhere near the severity of CUs, the Buffs were relentless in their ongoing pursuit to besmirch everything Nebraska and of course Woody Paige took his act into cyberspace too.

Bring On the Next Class Act
Gary Barnett, an assistant on Bill McCartneys staff during the 80s and coached Big Ten doormat Northwestern to a Rose Bowl, was considered a big time hire for CU in 1999. Barnett would win 4 of 5 Big XII North Champion between 2001 and 2005, but the accomplishments were hardly extraordinary in a weak North Division where records of 5 - 3 and 4 - 4 in 2004 and 2005 were all that it took. Barnetts only conference crown came in 2001. Although a close call in 1999 may have cost NU a shot at the National Title, Im only going to rehash the game wed all like to forget.

2001 NU vs. CU: Undefeated and coming off a stunning home win against #2 OU, the now #1 in the BCS Huskers seemed a lock to beat CU and head to the conference title game for a shot at the big prize. Instead CU rolled over NU in an abomination of a game 62 - 36. Buff OC Shawn Watson drew up a gameplan to get the Huskers aggressive D to over pursue on misdirection draw plays and NUs DC Craig Bohl played into it like an addicted gambler insisting he could win a crooked shell game. Craig bizarrely gapped our LBs just a few yards off the LOS giving the Buff OLs a 2 for 1 clearance sale, using NUs own momentum to spring Chris Brown or Bobby Purify through huge holes and into the secondary before they were even touched. As NU spotted CU to a 28 - 3 lead, Bohls adjustment was to creep the LBs up even further and show completely undisguised blitzes making it even easier. Bottom line, all Bohl needed to do was step back his LBs 3 or 4 yards to allow them to read/react but instead he drug down a very talented D into his fools game. CU ran only about 4 plays, most of them simple draws, eventually setting up play action passes to a wide open middle of the field. Game over and Bohls doomsday clock dramatically moved forward.

After 9 previous losses to NU, Buff Nation couldnt wait to skewer the mighty Huskers, which after that game was well deserved. NU found themselves watching CU beat Texas on TV just before a BCS glitch actually put NU in the NC game anyway. A Rose Bowl beating by Miami ensured NU got laughed at some more. After NU beat OU, no one could have imagined how dramatically the season would tank in two games and no one could have predicted what was just around the corner for both NU and CU.

The Bad Times
NU would go from 11 - 2 and playing in the Rose Bowl to 7 - 7 in 2002 and not have a winning season for the first time in 40 years. Just that quick Frank Solich found himself in a fight for his job. One of those 7 losses was another easy win for CU in Lincoln as the Buffs won the North Division for a 2nd straight year. After dismantling the legacy staff from Osbornes 25 years at the helm, NU narrowly beat a CU team in 2003 that had plummeted to a 5 - 6 year. Although many believed a win over a hapless Buffs team would spare Solichs career, NUs new AD fired Frank immediately following the CU game. Buff Nation guffawed and crowed, feeling they were responsible for NUs shake-ups because of the 2001 game, but by early 2004 the Rockies went silent as all hell broke loose when surreal sex and alcohol related scandals surfaced to rock Boulder.

Ultimately CU was accused of 9 sexual assaults involving the football team; many tied to illegal recruiting parties and one involving a female kicker that attempted to play on the team. Although the similar incidents of the late 80s were long ago, there were eerie coincidences, including Barnett being a CU assistant at that time, which built a bridge to a long-standing culture of impropriety and cover-ups. The more the media dug, the more cover-ups, slush funds, and assistant coach involvements surfaced. Barnett responded to the aspiring kicker, Katie Hnidas, allegations of being raped by a teammate by privately telling her he would back his real player 100% if she chose to go public and when she did, he responded in the media by calling her a terrible player that couldnt kick an extra point. Fifteen years after the first time CU coaches were accused of being wholly insensitive to assaults against women, Barnett proved conclusively they still had learned absolutely nothing. After a short suspension in 2004, Barnett was reinstated to HC for 2005, but it would be his last year as allegations of testimony tampering were leveled against him and he was forced to resign with a $3MM payout.

The Buffs werent completely finished coming up with new lows however, as evidenced in the 2005 game in Boulder where NU dominated CU 30 3 amid being pelted with debris from the student sections. As the 4th quarter wore on and the students repeatedly refused to heed warnings about throwing trash onto the field; security deemed vacating two entire sections of the stadium was their only recourse. And, as usual, the CU administration just shrugged off controversy and said basically kids will be kids.

The Next Bad Hire
By 2006 the series lost all appeal whatsoever as CU hid under a rock feeling sorry for themselves for all the injustices levied on their revered program and NU was mired in its own bad hires and football futility. I would be remiss however to not at least mention CU hiring The Hawk to replace Barnett in 2006. CUs attempt to rise from the ashes of disgrace would transpire with one of the nations hottest coaches in the form of Dan Hawkins from Boise State. CU in all of its wisdom and research learned quickly that they had hired the wrong Idaho spud. While the Smurfs just continued to get better under Hawkins former assistant Chris Peterson, Dan had little success recruiting or inspiring wins for the Buffs. I just cant imagine how hard it was for Boises administration to keep a straight face as they learned CU actually wanted to pay them to buyout their dead weight; and then the tequila shots that mustve flowed after the deal was done. But at least CU will always have the pleasure of paying millions to own one of the greatest all time rants by a college football coach; where The Hawk mysteriously blows up in front of the media at an anonymous piece of paper and actually does a Hulk Hogan impersonation, telling anonymous players to Go play intramurals, brother. Go play intramurals.

After Alls Said and Done
So, after a long tumultuous ride, we say good-bye to Colorado. NU seems well over half-way to a full recovery from its AD and coaching debacle while CU is about to throw yet another dart in hopes of landing a head coach that can win without publicly disgracing the program. As the list of prospects forms with the same names that got CU into trouble in the first place, I just have to shake my head and laugh. Id normally feel some pity for a schools plight and then I remember that at everything I dealt with just to try to root for my team at a few football games or online.

As you get older you realize grown-ups is a loose term as many people never really grow up at all. Folks at the highest levels in CUs administration continue to cling to a culture started by McCartney, which became all kinds of ugly; and no matter how many times they gut the athletic department and bring in fans of that era, itll likely never change. It got even uglier, but I shaved about 3 typed pages off just to keep this piece way too long, instead of way, way too long.

In short, Im glad its over for us, Im glad this column is over so I can file it away and be done with the CU series for good. As far as CUs concerned, they can keep their beliefs that 7 wins and countless, senseless insults over the last 24 years made it a rivalry. They can keep yelping ridiculous hypocrisies about how NU goes about its business. They can keep Woody Paige and they can keep their childish insults lobbed at an entire state full of fine, hard working people. And while Im at it, they can keep their Mountains too, because after alls said and done, its all the things that Coloradoans claimed made them so special that made me realize Ive never been more proud to be a Nebraskan.


 
Send comments to NUangrydad@gmail.com, and feel free to share your favorite NU stories and thoughts for any teams coming up on the farewell tour. Archives of prior articles are located here.


 
Angry Dad is an NU grad, writer, and fan. The name Angry Dad comes from a Simpsons episode where Bart creates his own comic book based on Homer, called Angry Dad. It’s what my 7 year old boy calls me when I’m watching Husker Games and you’ll learn suits my writing style when breaking down games (and no, I don’t have a clue who’s letting my 7 year old watch the Simpsons…).