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Was 1951 the Best Birth Year for a Husker Fan?

Commentary by David Max
July 26, 2010

I received the following e-mail the other day from Tony Bunting, another Husker fan living in Chicago.

-Quote -
Hello:

When you are an obsessed Cornhuskers fan, like me, funny Big Red thoughts enter your mind on a summer afternoon. I figured out that the best possible year for a Huskers fan (who perhaps attended the University of Nebraska) to have been born would have been 1951...

...Because that would mean that, when you were 11 years old (a great age for a young football fan), Devaney took over as head coach and the Cornhuskers immediately became good again and began their rise to national prominence.

...Because, when you turned 18, it would have been 1969, and if you had gone to the University of Nebraska, you would have seen firsthand the 1969, 1970, 1971, and 1972 teams in your four years on campus. Two national championships, four bowl victories.

...Then during your prime adult years (age 22 to 46), you would have seen the entire Osborne Era.

...And if you had had a kid when you were age 25, which would have been 1976, and that kid went to the University of Nebraska when he (or she) turned 18, he (or she) would have seen the 1994, 1995, 1996, and 1997 teams--three national championship teams.

...And, finally, if you had been born in 1951, you would still be young enough to see the rise of the next great era of Nebraska football...The Bo Pelini Years.


Tony Bunting
Chicago, Illinois
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Tony did not know that I was born in 1951 when he sent me the e-mail and obviously I couldn't agree more with his assessment. I was 11 years old in 1962 when Bob Devaney came to town and listened to the games on the radio in Page and later Ainsworth, Nebraska. After the games during the Page years we would get together in the open field by the Methodist Church and have our own pick up games pretending to be Husker greats like Dennis Claridge, Thunder Thornton, Bob Brown, Wayne Meylan and others.

When I turned 18 in 1969 I chose Kearney State College instead of Lincoln because I had relatives in Kearney and had visited the campus several times growning up when we visited them. I did make several games in Lincoln during the 1969 to 1973 as my father Carl had the foresight to purchase six season tickets when they built the south end zone in 1964. Looking back I view it as the best of both worlds. Having the ability to go to the games in Lincoln while getting the personalized smaller school education at Kearney. I was a student athletic trainer at Kearney and had the opportunity to be the trainer for the North squad in the 1972 and 1973 Shrine Bowl games. I first met Tom Osborne when he came to practice shortly after being announced as the successor to Bob Devaney. I was with "Touchdown" Tommie Heiser who had just arrived in camp when coach came into the training room. Obviously that meeting had more of an impression on me than it did on Coach Osborne.

During my "prime years" I moved to California after graduate school at Indiana University where I had the opportunity to work with both Lee Corso and Bob Knight at the other Big Red. Moving to California was somewhat of a culture shock but the Californians for Nebraska helped make the transition easier. I was amazed to find the Husker games on the radio every game day Saturday and actually have it listed in the LA Times radio/TV log. Early on after I joined the organization I drew the assignment of "watch site coordinator" and we grew from a single watch site in Fullerton to several in the LA/Orange County area. Maintaining our nation wide watch site directory remains one of my passions. The Tom Osborne era is full of memories both thrilling and heart breaking and I have shared many of them with other transplanted Nebraskans living in California. You can take the Husker fan out of Nebraska but you can't cure the life long illness of being a Husker fan no matter what your geographic location may be.

Our daughter Crystal was born in 1977 and like most kids they do things their parents don't like. In her case she chose going to school in Boulder, Colorado instead of Lincoln where I was pushing her because she wanted to blaze her own trail. She even attempted to be a Buffs fan and came to the watch site in Huntington Beach with a Colorado shirt on but changed to a Nebraska shirt by half time when her real passion came through. She was one of the few CU students that was a Husker fan and managed to get through going to school there without getting any tires slashed. She did attend the '95 and '97 National Championship games with Donna, Mom and I. Mom and I went solo to the '94 game. One memory about the '94 game that sticks in my mind is that it was before the cell phone era and we would stand in line at the pay phone booths at the team hotel after the game to call family and friends to talk about the game.

I am still barely on this side of 60 years old and I am looking forward to the continuation of the Bo Pelini era. It seems like things are coming full circle with the return of the Nebraska way attitude of hard work and integrity. We know that the product going out on the field this fall and in the future will consist of players that consider it a privilege to be a Husker and will give 100% on the field. We may not win every game but we will go into each game with the expectation of winning which has not been there in the not so distant past. I am proud of the current state of the Nebraska football progam and look forward to the next chapter as we enter the Big 10 Conference. It will be nice to be a part of the generation that transcended from Bob Devaney to the Big 10. Yes, it is great to be a Husker fan no matter what year you were born.

Just my 2 cents. What about yours? Selected responses will be added to this article. Here is the BBS feedback.

GO BIG RED!!!

E-mail feedback:
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David,

I agree with your article except for this minor detail. I was born in 1950. If you recall we exchanged e-mails just shortly after your dust up with huskerpedia and forming HuskerMax. I see things are progressing nicely. You may also recall from our previous e-mails I have spent the last 20 years in the Pacific NW, Olympia, WA to be exact. In that period my two oldest sons went through their high school years here and my youngest his entire school experience. I am also currently a guardian parent of a high school junior who has been with us the past 4 years. My second son went to Lincoln and ended staying in Nebraska. Two weeks back he called his mother and told her, “Mom, I don’t think I’ll ever move away again.” All of them are Husker loyalists and proud to wear their Husker gear anywhere in this state. In fact, Frank, my guardian son is the go to kid if we need an informational detail about any of the Huskers, and that includes, basketball, baseball, volley ball, etc. Hard to keep him off the HuskerMax website. Now my three grandsons are wearing the “Red.” I did my job!!

My first experience and where I got hooked on the Big Red was in the Gotham Bowl in ’62, you may recall NU-36, Miami-34. Yeah a great time period to live through. We’ve seen a lotta Husker history being made and it appears Bo will add to the legacy.

Good luck and great job on HuskerMax.

Pete R
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Born in 1951..went to Wahoo NE to the old JFK College in 1969 and attended my first Husker games that fall. Coming from NY, I had no idea what real college football was like until I went to a game in Lincoln . Have been a die hard Big Red fan ever since and have returned several times to games over the years. Like you, my son has gone to the dark side and is a Texas fan but he will see the light someday!!! Now that I live in Central OH I can hardly wait until the first Husker/Buckeye game. I’ve been telling folks in these parts bout Big Red Nation for a long time and now they will get to see it for themselves!!!

Rick F