Nebraska athletics are steeped in tradition, and I wanted to use this weekend as an opportunity to help Big Ten fans learn a little about some of the traditions and events that surround an average football game at NU. Posts marked "Nebraska Legends" will be looking at some of the most "legendary" parts of the atmosphere of Nebraska football--and where better to start than with the fans?
There's a quote engraved over every entry gate to Memorial Stadium: "Through these gates pass the Greatest Fans in College Football." Now, I'm aware this is a statement that not all schools will agree with (let's face it--we're all a little biased). We as Husker fans know it's a bold declaration and one that we as strive to live up to every day. At Nebraska, being a great fan isn't about cheering loudly or going to the game--though many great fans do those things as well. I think what sets Nebraska apart from other schools boils down to three things: our hospitality, competitiveness and loyalty.
Hospitality -- I believe one of the things that Big Ten fans will find most interesting and perhaps surprising about their visits to Lincoln is the warmth they will be greeted with. That's not to say that you won't run into the occasional grump, but most Nebraska fans will genuinely welcome you to Lincoln. This trait is something that I have really come to appreciate after traveling to several away games over the past few years!
Competitiveness --Don't mistake our friendliness for a lack of spirit--when it comes to game time, we expect to win. Nebraska fans are known for how informed they are, not only about Husker football but about the college football landscape in general. If you're looking to engage in a spirited debate, look no further than a Husker fan.
Loyalty -- Your team could be on top for ten years only to fall into ten years of near-irrelevance, but a loyal fan sticks with their team through the good times and the bad. Since 1962, we've most certainly had our ups and downs as a football program, but here's the sticking point: we've sold out every game since that year. We had already sold out for nearly eight consecutive years before we won our first national championship!
Simply put, part of what makes Nebraska a "legendary" place to play is the fans. I was fortunate enough to be at Memorial Stadium in 2009 for the 300th Consecutive Sellout and it remains one of my favorite memories of my time here at Nebraska. I'll leave you with a pair of videos from that night that celebrate the loyalty, competitiveness and hospitality of our fans:
One of my favorite quotes about Nebraska football comes from former Nebraska wide receiver Todd Peterson, a native of Grand Island:
"I am always telling people this about growing up in Nebraska and what football means to the state - from the outside looking in, you can't understand it, and from the inside looking out, you can't explain it."
Remember: there really is no place like Nebraska!