Josh Brage


GREAT Article: Husker Fans Relieved
October 20, 2007, 1:58 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

She gets it!

Cattle trucks rumble down Highway 30 on another dreary day in mediocrity. The sun has been trying its darnedest to poke its head out, a DJ crackles between hog reports and outdated songs. But the rain keeps coming, and the banks of the Loup Power Canal are about to give.

Nebraska fans are known for their dedication and their civility.

They do not ask for much in these parts. Water for the crops, good health for the family, a 10-win season for the football team. And like most towns in Nebraska, the football team is everywhere in Columbus. The grocery store on the corner sells Husker Chops. The garbage-truck driver who runs Big Red Sanitation has a bumper sticker that says he’s a Cornhusker. He’s the proud pops of Cory Schlesinger, one of the last great Nebraska fullbacks, and these days the most depressing thing in a state whose motto was once “The Good Life” is that nearly every sentence ends with “one of the last great…” “Nebraska has earned a lot of notoriety because of our football team,” Dave Ernst says as he sips coffee in front of a newspaper that chronicles the latest football debacle in 120-point type. “When it’s not doing well, the psyche of the state is affected.” For almost half a century, football was Nebraska’s identity. They dressed in red, wore corncobs on their head and gathered on Saturdays to watch their beloved team beat the tar out of an overmatched opponent. They won with dignity, stood up and clapped for the poor souls who took the beatings, then spent six days pondering how the Cornhuskers would annihilate the next team. Nobody quite knows how to handle their latest role as the whupped. In the closing minutes of Saturday’s 45-14 loss to Oklahoma State, on homecoming, the stadium fell eerily silent and the classiest fans in college football temporarily lost their manners. A huge banner asked the embattled athletic director to surrender. A middle-aged woman yelled, “You’re a loser, Callahan!” And then there were those who couldn’t move, even when the score was 38-0 at halftime, even when the red balloons prematurely filled the sky when the Cornhuskers finally registered a first down. Ernst, who owns a car lot in Columbus, was among the minority who stood and clapped for the losers. “That’s what I do, win or lose,” he says, “because that’s what I think I should do as a fan.”

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