You people are too darn nice.
After witnessing how loud and disruptive Husker fans were during last week’s “road game” at Colorado (Folsom Field was the fourth largest city in Nebraska) I got to thinking - why can’t we make that kind of noise at home?
For as long as I can remember Memorial Stadium in Lincoln has had a well deserved reputation for being kind to visiting teams. Win or lose fans in the South end zone often applaud the visitor as players head for the locker room after the final whistle. Fans are also very quiet. Many of them don’t even scream when the visiting offense is backed up on its own goal line.
University of Nebraska students usually don’t try to engage much with the opponent, and if they did, since their seats are somewhere around the Waverly I-80 exit, no one would hear them anyway.
This nice guy act was fine when Nebraska was one of the dominant programs in the country. When Turner Gill, Mike Rozier and Tommie Frazier played behind offensive linemen sporting necks as thick as Chimney Rock it made complete sense for fans to be hyper classy. But things are different now.
Nebraska has enough going against it in 2019. There are the present day scholarship limitations. Gone are the days when Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne could sign 13 left guards and play whoever wins out. Also, speed is what cuts it in today’s game. Scott Frost is trying to recruit fast players to a town where the winters are frigid and a young black man can die of boredom unless he can learn to like Pioneer Park more than young black men typically do. The Lied Center 2019 schedule does include performances of “The Glass Menagerie” and “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” so there’s that.
I’m not saying Lincoln can be a little dull but after you’ve toured Elephant Hall seven or eight times...
Nebraska ticket holders need to do whatever they can to facilitate winning. I know what you’re thinking: “You mean donating to the NU athletic program, attending all of the games, home and away, wearing my foam rubber corncob head to work, spending two-thirds of my disposable income at Husker Hounds and secretly loving Herbie Husker more than I love my own wife isn’t enough?”
Sadly, no, it is not.
We can begin with making more noise. I realize that some people attending home games are loud. But others only yell when somebody dares to stand up, blocking their view. Are you aware that at a lot of college football venues fans stand for the entire game? At Wisconsin they even “jump around” and sure, while that’s mostly fueled by kids enjoying their first gin and tonic, it still creates a desperately needed hostile atmosphere.
Husker fans need to holler a lot more. With regularity I want to see quarterbacks call time out in Lincoln because their linemen can’t hear the signals. I want to hear some booing too, directed at the visitor not the Nebraska players because someone threw three interceptions in the first half.
As I stated earlier it’s folks in the end zone at Memorial Stadium that cheer the opponent after the game, and, gasp, sometimes as the opponent runs to the locker room at halftime. WHILE THE GAME IS STILL IN DOUBT. POSSIBLY GIVING THE OPPONENT AN EMOTIONAL LIFT.
In the Southeastern Conference, whose champion regularly wins the national championship, fans sitting in the end zones behave like hungry rottweilers on crack. Evangelical Alabamans in the end zones curse so much you’d swear Lil’ Wayne is seated behind you.
I want the Nebraska students moved closer to the action and the older fans - especially the ones who’ve had their season tickets since coach Dana X. Bible’s first season - moved back.
This is all tough love because everybody knows these older fans have been extremely loyal. But the front rows of a college football stadium should not look like a Village Inn on Free Pie Day.
We need the noisy kids down front. And I want you students to be loud. Posting “HOLD ‘EM!” under a Husker emoji on Instagram does not count.
I want to feel the hatred inside Memorial Stadium as the enemy takes the field. A hostile crowd can sometimes intimidate young visitors. This is blood sport, people. Instead of a party act like you’re in line at the DMV or calling in to a Husker radio show or about to tweet.
Omaha motorists: pretend you’re driving on the Interstate and another vehicle is attempting to merge into your lane.
I know all of this is a steep hill to climb. In these here parts we’re raised to be polite. We have that dumb “Nebraska Nice” slogan hanging around our necks like an albatross. We take pride in those surveys that consistently rank Husker football devotees near the top of the Best Fans in College Football lists. But you know something? Very few of the schools ranked on those lists are also ranked in the AP Top Ten. It’s like being voted Miss Congeniality at the Miss America Pageant. So connect the dots and do the math. Nice does not equal good.
Of course we need to avoid taking it too far. We don’t want to go overboard on the hostile thing. We don’t want to be, say, Missouri where drunk, shirtless, sometimes pants-less, toothless, classless fans with mold growing in their ears have been known to projectile vomit on the visiting marching band.
Let me be clear that I’m not talking about turning into a bunch of hooligans. We don’t need to go all Oakland Raiders here, a team whose fans have a tradition of waving their electronic ankle monitoring devices in the air after touchdowns. We never want to cheer when an opponent is injured or do something stupid like taunt a visiting quarterback’s parents. We don’t want to direct this hostility toward visiting fans at all. We never want to throw objects onto the field. It’s far better to lose than to do those things.
My point is simply that fans should make it difficult for the opponent by making more noise. If you can’t do that, at least for God’s sake stop applauding the visitor. This isn’t youth soccer. It’s big time college football.
Fans in the stands need to lose their inner Mike Riley and channel their inner Bo Pelini.
Our goal should be to make Nebraska as hostile of a place for visiting college football teams as it is for cannabis growers and Democrats.
It appears the Huskers finally have a chance to be very good again. For this to happen they’re going to need to win some close games. Let’s be noisier and slightly less polite to give the team the edge it needs to get to the top. If I’m wrong you can all boo me.
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Brad Dickson is a former writer for "The Tonight Show," a humor columnist for the Omaha World-Herald newspaper, a best-selling author of two books and a professional speaker. You can find Brad on Twitter at @brad_dickson.
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