Nebraska football kickoffs are pretty big news around the Cornhusker State. People have to plan their Saturdays, after all. However, a piece in the Omaha World-Herald points out potential dangers of multiple late-nighters.
The author, Tom Shatel (who I’ll be the first to say is a fine fella), goes on about the wonderful world of lavish televisions and shorter trips, both to the lavatory and the kitchen. This makes perfect sense and I understand where he’s coming from.
Sure, it’s easier to do the price comparisons, get your buddy’s opinion and decide if you need the 60″ or the 80″ HD Smart TV (don’t buy the Monster cables). Not spending the gas to drive to and from Lincoln is certainly cheaper, I suppose. Can’t forget no long lines at the restroom and (relatively) inexpensive food.
Been down that road myself, in fact. However, there’s one point in Shatel’s article that got me to hit a full stop.
But please, Big Ten honchos, handle with care the very essence of what makes Nebraska football special: its fan base. And, yes, that sellout streak.
Whoa, now. Pump the breaks.
First off, the sellout streak will not end due to later kickoff times. If it didn’t end during the Callahan Era, it won’t end now.
Besides, let’s remember that tickets merely have to be sold, not sat in. Yes, adding that game to the streak would be somewhat hollow, however calling it a “sellout” would be technically correct. The best kind of correct.
Moving on, I can tell you that a football game day in Lincoln is an experience and it takes the wind out of you if done properly. The fans pushing 80 and 90 that pull it off every home game have my eternal respect. However, there comes a time in a fan’s life when they realize that parts of the game just aren’t for them anymore.
Try rushing the field for College Gameday in your mid-twenties with high schoolers and college kids on four hours of sleep. It’s like Pamplona West.
In regards to all disdain in regards to 8:00 p.m. kickoffs like Nebraska’s against Illinois, I would offer this: LSU doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, the Bayou Bengals are going to be playing a Big Ten team at that very time of the day when they open their season against Wisconsin in Houston, TX.
Heaven forbid anyone draws the Tigers at night in Death Valley. More bells have been rung there than in Starkville, Mississippi.
Let’s look at this from another perspective. Some recruits have very late Friday night games. Your standard Big Ten 11:00 a.m. kickoff may help some average Joe Huskers’ schedules, but what about the players that actually help win the games they watch?
What if Nebraska could make huge headway with a top 100 recruit by having him be fawned over like only Husker fans can? Let’s take it one step further and say he wants to bring his whole family because he wants to wrap up his recruitment? They can make a late kickoff easy. 2:30 p.m.? That’s cutting it really close, coach.
11:00 a.m.? You’re playing with fire. With primarily early kickoffs, the program’s sacrificing the best (and perhaps only) chance to further cultivate a relationship with a recruit and his family.
Here, let me shoot you in both feet after I tie a hand behind your back.
Finally, I’m going to be blunt. If the idea of not being able to make time to hit up a few of the games under the stars makes attending unbearable, don’t go. Sell your tickets or find people who want them to go and be generous.
I attended the Oklahoma-Nebraska slugfest of ’09 which kicked off at 7:00 p.m. It wasn’t exactly a high-scoring affair (the Huskers won 10-3), but that was one of the most electric, hostile, straight up angry crowds I’ve ever seen in that stadium.
Let me paint a picture for you. It’s a crisp evening in November. Wisconsin’s in town and this game will determine who goes on to play for the Big Ten Championship. Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m. The primest of prime-time on ABC.
Both teams have gone to their locker rooms. Maybe there’s a speech, maybe there’s not. The stadium breaks out in the now-traditional “HUSKER-POWER” chant that emanates from one side of the stadium, then carries to the next.
Then, the black HuskerVision screens pop to life and 90,000+ see something to the effect of…
…followed by well over 100 scarlet and cream-clad warriors ready to run through brick walls. If you’re a Husker football fan and wouldn’t pay for that experience, maybe the Smart TV is more your style.
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