Nebraska Football: Long-awaited start to football season to end

Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb., hours before kickoff of the 2019 Heroes Game between Iowa and Nebraska.Memorialstadium
Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb., hours before kickoff of the 2019 Heroes Game between Iowa and Nebraska.Memorialstadium /

Nebraska Football is starting, although it will look different this year.

When you are hopelessly devoted to your college football team your whole life it was heartbreaking to hear the announced shutdown of Big Ten fall sports August 11th.

It nearly tore me apart thinking I cannot watch the Nebraska Cornhuskers on the gridiron this strange year of 2020. Especially when you just took it for granted that there will always be Red Balloons floating above Memorial Stadium after the first Cornhuskers score of the season!

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It was not surprising but the news was also shattering for a fan base as loyal and ardent as the “children of the corn.” Think about it. There are no professional sports inside the “good life state.” They follow NU Athletics with passion and zeal. There is nothing that compares with the chatter around expectations and anticipation that follows Cornhusker spring football all the way through the summer as they start lacing up the cleats in August and the depth chart scrutiny begins anew.

It’s was almost villainous in the throes of the world’s worst pandemic in over 100 years to place the great canvas of the Big Ten College sports’ football season on hold! The lingering effect will be forever seeing an asterisk assigned to the 2020 year playing only eight games, yet Nebraska football fans and other Big Ten teams will not be walled up this season watching other conferences playout.

All that seemed strange and weird when only three of the Power Five conferences were playing this season is sort of erased. When it comes to football even the fantastic Chiefs playing in my backyard will not fill me up. I thirst for more!  I need to see and understand: Will Adrian Martinez bounce back from his backslide in 2019 or an new raw offensive line develop again to help NU return to winning and pushing defensive lines back consistently enough to return to its winning ways.

And who knows what your favorite Nebraska football player may have been thinking and stewing about before last month’s announcement as he considered no season this fall at all, or a partial season, or did that transfer portal with the get out of jail free card look appealing and go start with a new team next spring?

That is now put to bed for now as they focus on their upcoming opponents, playbooks and position assignments.

What I and thousands of other Big Red fans will really miss is the game day experience at Memorial Stadium, which is my favorite place on earth on football Saturday! I shall dearly miss my annual trip to tailgate this season before a home Cornhusker game and my decade’s long streak ends this year.

It still hurts to know my wife and I will not visit my good friend’s parking lot tailgate party across from Memorial Stadium with the pregame excitement and the whiff in the fall air of hot wings and other delicacies. There will be no sendoff to the stands after downing a round of board shot libations at the tailgate then steadily walking to the Memorial with chants swirling of GO BIG RED! Then shuffling up the ramps to our seats among the “Sea of Red” to experience the goosebumps of Sirius and the tunnel walk. I hope this is a one season anomaly.

The Big Ten may have a black eye from the decision to not play its other fall sports too. Postponing volleyball which is always highly competitive with Nebraska usually lingering near the top of the conference is another bitter pill to swallow. However I am thrilled the league’s presidents and chancellors unanimously voted to resume the football season.

The chatter and anticipation for the Big Red football team is running thick this week as they kick off and start their season with a tough road game against Ohio State this Saturday. Will the Cornhuskers seize this opportunity to be viewed differently nationally from that continual disappointment in this conference, that “whinny team” label stuck on them recently by SI and other national media outlets because of their reaction to the earlier announced fall season shutdown and go prove that they can be competitive at the highest levels of their conference? That remains to be seen.

I see their tough and fearless coach Scott Frost leading the Cornhuskers onto the field in Columbus with an attitude that we refuse to loose without a fight in Columbus! I predict the season opener will start the turn around the long-suffering fans base has craved to observe for almost two decades now. They must show they are not another pushover for the Buckeye’s launching pad to another Big Ten title, and begin their push toward football legitimacy in the Big Ten.