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Winging It, Vol. 3:

So I got these two packages in the mail the other day, both from the University of Nebraska, oddly enough. The first one was a large envelope with the return address crudely stamped on it in all capital letters, while the other was adorned with an emblem depicting a musclebound athlete in a red tanktop lifting a giant set of weights. So I opened the second one first. It turns out that Boyd Epley is offering me the chance to become a member of the exclusive Husker Power Club. I went on to read that the Husker Power Club is seeking out only Highly Important Husker Fans such as myself, the members of my immediate and extended family, my co-workers, and every other Nebraskan who is presently living.

According to the support materials, it appears that my first and only duty as a new member of the Husker Power Club is to write a check to the group for $125. This money, I am assured, will prevent Nebraska's football team from losing four games this year. Now, usually I'm one of those polyanna fans that generally trusts the coaches and the staff on stuff like this, but in this case I figure there must be some kind of catch. So I'm waiting until after this week's ballgame with Arizona State to determine how much help the Cornhuskers really do need. If I see them struggling down there on the field, then I will most certainly heed the call to join up.

Which brings me to the second envelope. I have to admit that this package was much more satisfying to open, and not because I generally like stabbing things with a letter opener. When I cracked this baby open, a soft, warm, golden glow emanated from inside, just like the contents of that mystery briefcase in "Pulp Fiction." It was, at last -- at long, long last -- a set of Cornhusker season football tickets.

It should be explained that The Bride works for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, at least until the Nebraska Legislature meets in January and decides the football team could make more money if it didn't have that meddling university with it. It was through The Bride's initiative, drive and, above all, her desire to shut me up that she used her employee status to acquire two sets of tickets. So, technically, she is their true, rightful owner. Therefore, I am allowing her to come to this first game with me.

It should be further explained that The Bride has not been to a football game since the golden memory-filled 1996 Fiesta Bowl, the zenith of modern Husker football. It was a memorable night for both of us -- for me, the best part of the whole experience was Tommie Frazier's amazing third-quarter run into immortality; for her, it was that our room at the hotel had a Servi-Bar and its own jacuzzi. Needless to say, she's not much of a football fan.

This is OK around the house, but I am worried about her ability to survive at Memorial Stadium for several hours with The Most Knowledgeable Fans in the Milky Way. There are enough unwritten rules about Husker football, and college football in general, to choke Ralphie, Bevo and Uga combined.

In case you, too, find yourself unfamiliar with these rules, here are some of them (Note: These are in no particular order).


RULE 397: No one looks good in burnt orange. No one.

RULE 11: If you're new to Lincoln and need to stop at a local gas station to ask directions, Melichar’s 66 66 at Ninth and P streets is really not the best place in the world, particularly if it's about one hour before kickoff on a home football Saturday.

RULE 1,993: There comes a time in every man's life when watching Kansas State find new and glorious ways to disappoint their fans is no longer funny. Most men, however, have not yet reached this point in their lives.

RULE 9: It is quite unnecessary to compound the effect of wearing red polyester pants by wearing a white belt. Or white cowboy boots, for that matter.

RULE 20: Never watch a Nebraska game by yourself. You may need emergency medical help at some point of the contest, and besides, going it alone on game day is about as much fun as watching "Godfather III" in Spanish. Or English, for that matter.

RULE 750: If you are someday forced to choose between being impaled to death on white-hot metal spikes while Emo music plays in the background, and being forced to watch the Colorado Buffaloes win the national championship, choose the former.

RULE 325: Miami (Fla.) and Miami-Ohio have similar-sounding names, but in fact are quite a bit different.

RULE 1,600: A tragedy is when thousands of innocent people die at the hands of madmen who turn airplanes into guided missiles and slam them into our office buildings. A defensive lineman's season-ending injury in the preseason, while quite unfortunate, is NOT a tragedy.

RULE 501: Remember, the conference your favorite team plays in is exactly 33 percent more difficult than conferences your favorite team does NOT play in. That goes double if your team is still in the hunt for the BCS title game in late November.

RULE 280: The Cheese Runza is the only Runza that matters.

RULE 1,768: Though described by some as a genius, Bill Walsh is far from it. He eliminated any doubt when, for the entirety of the 1992 Orange Bowl telecast, he asserted Nebraska's program was about to drop into a steep decline.

RULE 445: When Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wrote "Start Me Up" in 1978, chances are they weren't thinking about Josh Brown putting foot into football with 15:00 left in the first quarter.

RULE 70: Never trust a man who refers to offensive line play as the "war in the trenches," the quarterback as the "field general" and a team's running game as their "ground attack."

RULE 81: When people say "I don't care if my team wins just one game each year, as long as that win is against (fill in hated rival here)," they are lying through their teeth. Just so you know.

RULE 91: The media does, indeed, exhibit a bias. Just ask any college football fan, and they'll tell you it's against the team he follows most closely.

RULE 398: To review: Burnt orange is acceptable in only three places -- J. Crew catalogs, the "Trading Spaces" TV show and at the bottom of a baby's diaper.

RULE 127: "Bulldogs" is the second-lamest mascot in all of college football. "Wildcats" is No. 1.

RULE 667: No well-adjusted woman over the age of 20 has ever been genuinely thrilled with an anniversary gift of a red Cornhusker t-shirt.

RULE 21: Colorado sucks.

RULE 22: But that doesn't mean they're Nebraska's rival.

RULE 79: Never trust a white sports fan who yells "Yo!" as a greeting and says "Out!" as a farewell.

RULE 863: Attempting an I-back pass after finally establishing the run against Miami -- for God's sake, man, a thousand times no.

RULE 4: The FieldTurf is always greener under the second-string quarterback's feet.

RULE 2,808: Florida State's all-time record on ESPN Classic is 78-18-3. Nebraska's is 18-78-3. Coincidence? I think not.

RULE 80: Never trust a man with the PowerCat symbol on his checks.

RULE 3,714: Speed is overrated. If speed is the only thing you need to be a great football player, then Renaldo Nehamiah would be in the NFL Hall of Fame. And for the record, he is not.

RULE 747: "Audible" is not a real verb. Nor is "audibilize." And while we're at it, "blitz" isn't a real verb, either.

RULE 999: It is perfectly acceptable to use baseball metaphors in football, such as "Lord drops back ... he's going to go for the home run ball to Thomas!" But it is not acceptable to use football metaphors in baseball.

RULE 1,000: It is perfectly OK to wear a Nebraska baseball jersey to Memorial Stadium, but never appropriate to wear a football jersey inside Haymarket Park. Why? It just isn't, that's why.

RULE 5: Good plays are ones that work. Bad plays are ones that don't.

RULE 371: Remember, if your team loses at home to a WAC school and then loses again on the road by five touchdowns, there is no dignified way for your coach to demand to be invited to the BCS title game.

RULE 262: If you're going to Sidetrack Tavern the Friday before the game, remember to wear an old pair of shoes.

RULE 1,495: The best way to experience schadenfreude -- the malicious enjoyment of another's misfortune -- is to watch, in reverse chronological order, the 2001 Colorado-Oregon Fiesta Bowl, the 2000 Florida State-Oklahoma Orange Bowl and the 1994 Arizona-Miami Fiesta Bowl.

RULE 864: Never share a beer with a man who wears a team sunvisor.

RULE 28: The slowest cashiers in the state all work at your neighborhood grocery store roughly 15 minutes before the big game comes on TV.

RULE 50: "Jordanesque" and "Ruthian" are perfectly acceptable sports adjectives.

RULE 51: "Vicklike" is not.

RULE 7: To be remembered fondly in Nebraska, Husker coaches must abide by two very important commandments: Thou Shalt Not Lose Very Much and Thou Shalt Not Willingly Choose to Leave the University to Coach Elsewhere Like That Rat Bastage Van Horn Did.

RULE 102: "Ironic" is the most misused word in sports. It was not ironic when Nebraska beat Oklahoma last year on the same trick play that the Sooners failed to convert earlier in the game. That was merely a coincidence. More examples: If Lawrence Phillips has a football-playing son, and in 20 years the son gets arrested for assault, that too is a coincidence. But if the son is assaulted by someone else, that's closer to ironic. And if he's attacked by Kate McEwen's daughter, then that is PRECISELY ironic.

RULE 19: It is possible to actually become dumber by watching Fox Sports.

RULE 433: People older than 12 who tell you they've lived and died with the Kansas State Wildcats for as long as they can remember are lying through their remaining teeth. They all cheered for Mizzou or Kansas in the '70s and '80s.

RULE 78: Your beer tastes exactly seven degrees colder when the Cornhuskers have a 14-point lead.

RULE 114: From closest margin of victory to widest margin of victory: Romp, rout, blowout, pounding, tromping, hog-stomping, piano-wiring.

RULE 246: Anyone who buys Fiesta Bowl tickets based on what Terry Bowden says in the middle of August deserves exactly what he gets.

RULE 49: "Classy fan" is an oxymoron, just like "partially blocked," "instant classic," "rock opera" and "House Ethics Committee."

RULE 1: Happiness starts at nine wins in Lincoln. Everything else is just details.

RULE 399: And for the last time, no goddamn burnt orange.

Red. White. Loon.
Show your true colors in THE POND,
Home of Nebraska's RED CLAD LOON.