Monthly Archives: September 2013

On Being A Nebraska Cornhusker Fan

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Growing up in SoCal, one often hears the question “Are you USC or UCLA?” It’s presumptuous to assume – with no prior knowledge of someone’s background or collegiate  experience – to that living anywhere south of Fresno and north of San Diego means you fall into one of two categories: USC or UCLA.

When I mention I enjoy college football, people often assume I’m a USC fan because they are the “good” Southern California team – even after they screwed the pooch all last year. Maybe it’s my Latin background, but people seem to think I grew up in South L.A., making me a trendy USC fan.

When I mention I live in West L.A. people assume I went to UCLA and therefore I root for that school. Of course it would have nothing to do with their newfound success. The school is less than three miles from my dwelling. It’s so close, when I needed a mammogram (no joke, apparently 27-year-old men need those sometimes and it’s just as awkward as you think it would be), that’s where I went. Their medical facilities are delightful, but I couldn’t give two shits about their super-smart football program.

I was neither trendy enough nor brainy enough to develop allegiances to either one of these schools.

So to answer the question “Are you USC or UCLA?” I politely respond “I’m a Husker fan.”

USCUCLA

“Really?! Did you go there?” (This is generally accusatory, as if I can’t be a fan if I didn’t attend the school. This is usually coming from the guy wearing a UCLA hat and a USC T-shirt who spent seven years at Glendale Community College before taking a management position at his dad’s hardware store. HOW’S THAT COMMUNICATIONS DEGREE COMING NOW?!) Note: Srsly though, that was my degree, so any comm majors out there, it’s OK. I’m allowed to hate.

“No, but it’s all I’ve ever really known.” (Because reasons.)

“Well then why are you a fan?”

And then I usually launch into a Cliff’s Notes version of the five Ws and an H of how I became a Husker fan. I guess I’ve been trained by accusations of bandwaggoning to just give the bullet points, trying to explain the following would be futile. It’s not even a worthwhile argument. Bandwaggoning, my ass. We haven’t been National Title contenders in decades, and I did not have the wherewithal as an 8-year-old to know that I was way cooler if I liked a team that my classmates never heard of. Seriously, doesn’t ANYONE remember liking something different in elementary school? It was terrible.

I use the shortened version because understanding fandom that starts in the hearts and runs through the veins of every member of an entire family proves to be difficult for the inebriated and confrontational. It’s  impossible to describe something that I was born into. It’s never been tangible, always metaphysical – just surrounding us. But I’ll give it a shot…

It seems that I was destined to be a Husker fan, long before my mid-80’s birth.

Baby
Baby me in my baby Nebraska hoodie.

My mother, a “whoopsie” blessed unto  Lincoln natives after they moved to California, knew nothing other than Husker fandom. My father, a (legal) Costa Rican immigrant, came to the United States at the age of 6 – he faltered for about 12 years, rooting for the likes of the smart and trendy before meeting my mom. To be fair, before he perfected his English, he thought he was cheering for Juicy Allay. (Go ahead, say it out loud.)

From there, it was no question: The passion, the love, the dedication that my mom’s family showed for the Scarlet and Cream created a monster within my dad. He became a fan, and immersed himself in the culture. Twelve years later, I was born,  and I’ve known nothing else since.

My brother and sister, The Twins, and I would spend Thanksgiving weekends in Mammoth, where my grandparents lived in a cabin. Most of the details are hazy in the beginning. There were so many people, and so many years at that cabin, they blend together.

The whole clan – aunts, uncles, cousins – were clad in red for most of the weekend. We’d have Thanksgiving dinner and fall asleep that night with visions of touchdowns and Oklahoma losses dancing in our heads. As children, we weren’t so sure what was going on, but we fed off the energy, bouncing around from the couch to the chair to the floor, watching the game and gnawing on the collar of our shirts.

The Twins. One boy, one girl.
The Twins. One boy, one girl.

If the game was early, Grandma was making aebleskivers. If the game was in the after noon,  it was  runzas, and the smell of warm dough and beef would fill the house. Grandpa was somewhere in the back of the room cursing the “goddamn zebras!” and we would giggle at the bad words. They lived Nebraska football. We learned from them. We soaked it up and pass it on.

This picture of my brother and me is almost 100% accurate still today. The only thing missing is a beer. We eat A LOT.
This picture of my brother and me at my grandparents’ house is almost 100% accurate still today. We are still always eating. The only thing missing is beer.

Back then there was no DirecTV, TimeWarnerCable, or FiOS. We couldn’t watch every game like we do now. But the big ones, like the Oklahoma games,  the bowl games, the National Championships… they were on TV. They were some something that consumed the family.

My earliest, clear memory is somewhere around age 9, when The Twins and I rubbed red and white balloons on the carpet to get them full of static and stick them on our dog Lady. Tolerant little thing she was.

Please don't mind my Rams shirt. I lived in L.A., I knew not what I did.
Don’t mind the goofy faces, we were not gifted children. And please don’t mind my Rams shirt. I lived in L.A., I knew not what I did.

Another is Tommie Fraizer’s run. It could have been the same day that we were torturing the poor dog. I remember standing in front of the TV, not understanding what just happened. “Why wasn’t he playing professional football?” I didn’t quite get at the time that you had to go to college first. I wasn’t the brightest kid when it came to sports. I knew what I loved, and I knew it was a part of me. I just didn’t get it. My feeble little mind was too distracted, and it never really stored other memories.

From there, the Huskers took a back seat to soccer and baseball tournaments. Then soccer and baseball took a backseat to my sudden urge to become a rockstar. Like any pubescent idiot, I thought I could make it in the music industry. Music was my life. I had a band, but I had no balance. I neglected a lot of things I love, like Husker football.

Throughout high school I barely kept abreast of the Huskers. I remember watching Eric Crouch, but only sparingly. He won the Heisman and I was like “Cool, where’s my Grammy?” Our band was so bad. We should have been locked up for being so delusional.

Shortly after I graduated, everything came full circle back to Nebraska football. Sometime around December 2003 when our drummer went to jail, the spark turned into a full on blaze. It’s been there ever since. I regret ever leaving it to idle in the back seat. I’m sad I missed some years in between balloon dog and jailed drummer. I missed out on a part of life that makes me feel so alive… or can make me feel like I want to die. I feel like a fraud saying “I’ve been a fan my whole life,” but I can still say I was born a Husker fan and I will die a Husker fan.

I went to my first Husker game in Memorial Stadium on October 4, 2008. Nebraska lost to Missouri 52-17. The score was awful, but the experience was life-altering. The stadium was electric, with fans buzzing and cheering. The energy was contagious, and no matter how bad we lost that day that trip will always top my list of Most Awesome Things Ever.

Two days before the game, thanks to the help of my cousin who was attending UNL at the time, I stood on the scarlet N at the 50-yard line. Just me and four friends and an eerily empty stadium. To some, this might not mean much. I know thousands of people have stood there, and thousands more will. But I never played football (my mom thought that I’d break my neck, despite it being thicker than my damn head) so I never had the chance to take that field.

The photo brought my dad to tears so intensely that my sister thought someone had passed away when she walked in and saw him. My mom’s parents were very much his parents, too. He knew what it would mean to them. When my grandparents died on the same day, a mere 45 minutes apart, in 2006, we held a memorial service in which we requested that people wear Nebraska gear (or Hawaiian shirts). Many obliged, and then told stories that all revolved around the passion that Grandma and Grandpa brought to the family. The runzas, the goddamn zebras, the yelling at the TV. They literally lived and died with Nebraska. The fact that I stood at the 50-yard line, something my grandparents never had the opportunity to do, was the culmination of this entity that’s so long consumed my family.

Don't mind my face, I had something on it. And don't mind my stupid stance. I was shaking and off balance.
Don’t mind my face, I had something on it. And don’t mind my stupid stance. I was shaking and off balance.

As the last remaining sunlight draped over East Stadium, I created a pseudo touchdown run, with a dear friend, a Nebraska native, announcing. I flipped into the end zone and made up some silly touchdown dance so as to hold back my tears.

The people I met, the bars in which I drank, the runzas I so voraciously consumed – they all epitomize what it’s like to be a Husker fan. It’s like no other experience in the world. It is truly unique and catered not to the casual fan but to those who have a desire to take part in something that’s so much larger than themselves. I’ve been back one more time, for the 300th consecutive sellout. It was a rout, but we had ourselves a time. It meant a lot for us to be there. To pay respects to the two people that brought this insanity to our lives.

My ticket from the 300th sellout. This is the housewarming gift my dad had for me when i finally moved out of my parents' house at 25 years old. I almost cried. I didn't, because I'm a man.
My ticket from the 300th sellout. This is the housewarming gift my dad had for me when I finally moved out of my parents’ house at 25 years old. I almost cried. I didn’t, because I’m a man.

I’ve broken sunglasses against a wall. I’ve kicked my brother out of the car after a last-second loss to Texas. I’ve run in circles. I’ve cried. I’ve missed high-fives because I was so disoriented from jumping up and down. I’ve cursed opposing teams, their coaches, their players, their mothers, their pets. At a bowl game I had to sit with my head between my legs for the full second half because It was pounding so hard from yelling. I’ve sat on the couch, statuesque, motionless after a blowout loss. My runza sat there silently steaming, much like myself.

My mom learned long ago how to make homemade runzas, the same her mother made. I’ve shoved them down throat of anyone willing to watch the game with me. “Here HERE HERE eat this. YOU WILL LIKE IT OR YOU WILL GO HOME.”

Don't mind the stupid filter. I had just gotten a smartphone and thought hipstamatic was super cool.
Don’t mind the stupid filter. I had just gotten a smartphone and thought hipstamatic was super cool.

Our friends that used to come watch us watch games because our mood swings bordered on lunacy have been steadily turned into true Nebraska fans. They watch without our prompting or invitation. They talk about the players. They understand the team. It’s a disease, dammit, and it’s the best one to have. They know what it entails, but they take it on with a full head of steam.

Being a fan of Nebraska isn’t always easy. There are ups and downs – more downs than ups, recently. It’s not always fun, it’s not always pretty, and sometimes it seems that it would feel better to just leave it all behind (again). But that’s the thing about something you care so passionately for – you always come back. They say love is a labor, but I’ve never had to work so little to care for something so much. I’ll never truly turn my back on them, no matter what silly dream I chase or how many notches are in the loss column, the Huskers are always my team. From my family to yours to the next to the next to the next and so forth. The Nebraska Cornhuskers are always our team.

Follow me on twitter at @blackshirtfresh.

Recap: Nebraska vs. SDSU – Room For Only One Jack

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After a week of speculation and controversy, it was good to see our boys in red back out on the field. For the most part, there was overwhelming support for Bo, as demonstrated by the standing ovation he received. I’m sure there were angry comments and sporadic boos, but I don’t count those because I don’t want them. Past girlfriends have said I have selective hearing, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to change that now. So now that the whole thing is behind us and the only reason we should ever talk about it again is that we found the tipster and he’s going to be thrown in to the stocks…lets play some football!

For some reason College GameDay Guest Picker Guy (a former defensive end for North Dakota State University and the Buffalo Bills) got a little cheeky  and predicted that the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits would upset Nebraska at home. Yeah, OK. YOU ARE FROM NORTH DAKOTA YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO HATE SOUTH DAKOTA AND WANT THEM TO GET SLAUGHTERED.

That guest picker was Phil Hansen. From what it seems, he knows his football, and he’s widely liked. But apparently he just really wanted to troll his alma mater.

Other people, who apparently didn’t know better, had their misconstrued hopes reaffirmed. “Who cares if he only knows NDSU football?! He makes me feel better about me hoping my team will win an impossible game today!” Apparently the allegiance to the Dakotas sweeping, and “North” and “South” are interchangeable. (It should also be noted that Hansen ran for the Minnesota Senate in 2012, so his opinions on anything Dakota are nothing but questionable.)

#notsmartbison

I got tired of the people coming down on Nebraska. It was hurting my heart. Other teams have had tough weeks and won. Other teams have shitty defense and they won. Other teams have lost their starting quarterback and put in the backup(s) and won. (Ahem, Ohio State).

So I spoke up:

And what do you know? THE STREAK IS BROKEN!!!! WE DIDN’T GO THREE-AND-OUT!! It seems I need to make more predictions. It took only four plays (and one penalty) to score!

Then we kept trading touchdowns and it made me super mad. It was a potential implosion again. We were down 17-14 at the end of the first quarter. Somehow, after a shellacking last week, we still hadn’t made any defensive adjustments, and possible-porn-star Zack Zenner ran for 128 yards in the first quarter. ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-EIGHT YARDS IN ONE QUARTER. And two touchdown. Some TEAMS don’t even put up those kinds of numbers in an entire game.

 

OMG we are so fucked. If Phil Hansen picked that upset and it became true, everything I know would shatter. By comparison, Ameer Abdullah and Imani Cross combined for 66 yards rushing in the first quarter. Zenner more-than-doubled up our backfield. There were a few miscues on the receiving end of things, too.

(In the end, Kenny Bell should have had two touchdown receptions, but alas, things aren’t always thunderous in afro-land.)

But how the tables can turn. In the second quarter, Abdullah, Cross, and Tommy Armstrong Jr. combined for 97 yards rushing, and Zenner eked out only 41 (less than one-third of the previous quarter!). TAKE THAT, PORN GUY.

Remember how SDSU hadn’t turned the ball over this season? Stanley Jean-Baptiste served up yet another interception, and it was GLORIOUS. That was followed by two more (a fumble recovery, and a pick-six). The Huskers fumbled twice, but in the end that put SDSU at only +10 in the turnover department now! Gotta slowly chip away at these things people!

The onslaught was on, but some people didn’t quite know it yet.

At this point, the Huskers was up 38-17, but apparently there was still hope. This guy’s twitter is plastered in NDSU garb, so I’m not sure why he was also rooting for SDSU. Probably to try to equivocate NDSU to Nebraska when SDSU runs all over them this weekend.

OK, it’s a bit of a cheap shot but not totally unwarranted. I know we had just given up a fumble, but just because your team is up by 40-something points and still trying to run up the score doesn’t give you room to talk. SDSU missed an ensuing field goal and the Huskers scored on their next drive. It should be noted that there were no further tweets regarding SDUSvsNEB after that one.

At this juncture there is no point in further breaking down the game, but there are some positive things to take away:

1. Handsome Ameer is No. 7 in the nation in rushing  after garnering another 139 yards in Saturday’s game. This despite only playing on series in the second half. Imagine if he kept up his production! Tack on another 80+ yards and suddenly he’s No. 3 in the nation. We didn’t put together 215 yards rushing in the first half like I hoped we would, but we got to 163, which is the equivalent to a 76%, so they get a passing grade. The ground game put up 335 yards, more than triple the average the Jackrabbits have been giving up.

2. Stanley Jean-Baptiste is an interception machine. He’s currently leading the nation with four interceptions, and second in interception yards (134). I CAN’T WAIT FOR MORE INTERCEPTIONS THEY ARE THE BEST THING EVER WHEN NEBRASKA IS DOING THE INTERCEPTING.

3. There is/will be no QB controversy, at least for a while. It’s Taylor’s job and everyone knows it. But Tommy Armstrong Jr., Ron Kellogg The Third, and Ryker Fyfe (what a badass name) did their jobs REALLY well. Saturday was the first time the Huskers have ever totaled more than 300 yards passing and rushing in a single game. SO AWESOME. Should Taylor have to sit again, I have full faith in our QBs, but for now he will be the one taking snaps. Also, how cool is it that we have a Ryker Fyfe I, Tommy Armstrong II, Ron Kellogg III, and Johnny Stanton IV as backups? It’s like royalty on these sidelines!

4. Zack Zenner is a beast. Can FCS players win the Heisman? He might make a run at it. Get it? Run, like running back. He put up 202 yards against the Huskers, and he added a 21-yard reception. Granted, 169 of those rushing yards came in the first half, before Nebraska really buckled down. So maybe he’s not that great against semi-funtional defenses.

5. JACKRABBITS BE GONE! RUN AWAY! Memorial Stadium is only big enough for one Jack, and everyone knows exactly who that is. Johnny Stanton IV (another dynamic run/pass QB on the Husker roster – seriously the next three to four years on offense will be grand) showed his support for Jack Hoffman in an awesome way:

Besides, his girlfriend (Miss Nebraska) is smokin’ hot, he’s got more rushing yards this season than MSU, and has more touchdowns than Purdue! She looks a little upset he’s eating all the popcorn, but she needs to maintain that figure anyway.

Enjoy that popcorn Jack, because once you put a ring on it, half of that is hers, maybe more – she looks pretty high maintenance with that crown.

Follow me on twitter at @blackshirtfresh

Preview: Nebraska vs. SDSU

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BannerTo highlight the Husker game this weekend, I had a grand idea of exploiting the confusion between SDSU (South Dakota State University) and SDSU (San Diego State University), but that doesn’t seem fair because SDSU is much better than SDSU. All-time records show Nebraska handily trounced SDSU in something like 1784, their first meeting. The most recent meeting, in 2010, resulted in an SDSU loss (17-3), but the Huskers looked flat.  We can’t do that this time.

Nebraska comes into this game limping after another beating by UCLA and some asshole releasing a tape of Bo Pelini’s 2011 tirade that cursed Nebraska fans. It’s been an emotional week, and the team, while saying they remain steadfast in their focus, has likely heard it all. They are probably exhausted. Like, just-got-home-from-Disneyland-after-eating-a-bunch-of-funnel-cake-and-Dole-pineapple-whip-and-hugging-Goofy tired.

Not only that but… Taylor Martinez will most likely sit out with another case of turf toe. I don’t mean to alarm anyone but SON OF A BITCH, WE NEED TO BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES, ALL HANDS ON DECK, PULL UP THE DRAW BRIDGE, PUNCH SHIT, LIGHT FIRES. THE GUY THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO WIN THAT TROPHY FOR US IS HURT AND IT’S HIS DAMN TOE AGAIN AND WHO KNOWS IF IT WILL EVER GET BETTER.

Oh god, I’m so nervous. SDSU is good, or so it seems. They have a dynamic running back in Zack Zenner – who may also star as a porn star on some backwoods website with a name like that. He leads the FCS in rushing yards, and since the Huskers can’t stop the run, we may as well just let him walk to the endzone.

SDSU hasn’t turned the ball over this season. I’M TALKING TO YOU, SJB. THIS MEANS YOU, CIANTE. Interceptions. Lots of them. Make them fumble. Our offense could really learn something from these kids. Lets table the turns. They cough it up, we hold on to it. It’s a wonderful strategy. They are +11 in turnovers. We have to fuck this up for them. I will tolerate nothing less than 6 turnovers, in any combination of fumbles and interceptions.

SDSU’s go-to wide receiver is Jason Schneider, a man who is setting career highs in all sorts of categories since the season started. The strategy here is to not let him catch the ball. Then we need to make sure to score touchdowns.

A couple of notes for the week:

1. Bo needs to prove everyone wrong. He should go out there the same as he always does and coach the fuck out of this uber-talented team. There’s not much he could say to a stadium of 90,000+ fans to sway them. If he grabs the mic, it should be one hell of a ride. He might do himself a favor by saying “Fuck you South Dakota State University fans, no one ever even knew you were the state above us. We thought you were just the badlands of North Dakota’s wastewater, seeping ever closer to our Holy Land. We only knew you existed after our 6-ranked team put up only 17 points against you in 2010. Oh boy, you frothing cunts should have heard that recording.”

2. SDSU is giving up more than 400 yards per game. That’s good for us, but not good enough. I’d like to see the Huskers put up 600 to instill confidence. SDSU also is barely giving up 100 yards on the ground. The solution? Give the ball to Abdullah. Theres 100+ right there! Give the ball to Newby. 80 more yards! Give the ball to Imani Cross-the-goaline. POINTS. These gents can run. No FCS defense will hold them to less than 100 yards total. Right? I mean, that doesn’t sound logical. Right? These guys are TANKS. They’ll get it done. 215 yards rushing. In the first half. There’s my call. Don’t make me look bad, boys.

3. Ugh, Jackrabbits. I get it, your state felt the need for two universities and the other one got to pick the name first: the Coyotes. That’s your state animal, and a glorious one at that. So you chose Jackrabbits. You do realize they are in almost every state, right? That’s not unique. They aren’t even threatening. They are scared of EVERYTHING. They run fast, sure, but they run fast away from danger. SDSU couldn’t pick something like the Mountain Lions, Black Bears, or Swift Foxes? ALL indigenous to the state of South Dakota. There were so many options. They could have been the Fringe-Tailed Myotises. Look at these things!

Look at it. It’s so fucking revolting. Those ears. Those teeth. It’s like some mutant rat got all the ugly of his family, grew wings, and developed a tasted for insects and small birds. Thus becoming a Myotis. Bats are scary as shit. They are not fun. Rabbits are fun. Rabbits are cute and cuddly and sweet and like carrots and the like. Bats are hell. They eat living things. They are silent hunters of the night and will eat your ears and toes off while you try to relax in the cool of a summer night with your sweetie and a glass of riesling to accompany your cheese plate. Opposing teams would would be terrified! “SDSU? Nope! No way! Uh Uh! We’ll take the loss. One of them things ate my foot last summer.”

Rabbits run from people, Myotises will eat people. That’s fumble No. 1, SDSU. Prepare for more. For you. You’ll fumble. We won’t (hopefully).

Follow me on twitter at @blackshirtfresh

Recap: Nebraska vs. UCLA – The Recrap

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Last week, my preview said that the Cornhuskers needed to come out, buttholes blazing, ready to shit on UCLA’s chest. We instead shit the bed. I don’t know if I’m still hungover from the game or the wedding I was in that night.

I woke up that morning with stars in my eyes and a cloudy head. But despite the pain, I just knew we were going to to win. I was so confident. I didn’t mind that I might only watch one half of the game due to groomsmanly duties in preparation of the wedding later on.

I grabbed some water, took my morning doodie, and mentally prepped myself to not rub it into the groom and the 10 other groomsmen (yes, 10) who would be cheering for UCLA because they don’t know where Nebraska is.

After UCLA had to punt on their first drive, I felt pretty relieved. It was a good start. But once Nebraska punted on their first drive for the third consecutive game, I was none too pleased. I sat in my bed, grumpy, yet comfortable. Not with the game, but this bed was one of the nicest I’ve ever been in.

Then Pope Stanley Jean-Baptiste intercepted the great Brett Hundley! Whoa, this INT thing is becoming a trend! I silently – so as not to disturb my fellow groomsman in the other bed – jumped up and positioned myself to watch the glorious replay. Four plays later, the Huskers were on the board 7-0. I raised both my hands in triumph. I sat back down on the cloud bed. I prepared for a win.

Despite UCLA scoring on the next drive, I felt good, and mildly numb due to the booze continuing to course through my veins. On the next possession, the Huskers strung together a 17-play drive (without a turnover! OMG) and Taylor found Quincy in the end zone for their second time that day. 14-3!! I jumped up and had the most raucous and fist-pumping silent  celebration ever. It was my own little solo mosh pit, absent of sound.

The first quarter ended, and I started to prep myself for the day. I woke up the sleepy groomsman and we preened for the nuptials. A UCLA punt, a Nebraska 2nd and 30, a Nebraska punt, and a UCLA downs turnover later…AFRO THUNDER! Taylor found Kenny Bell to go up 21-3. This game is in the bag! What an awesome first half! More moshing! More yelling! Hangover headache!

But the first half wasn’t over. Somehow, with only 7:12 left, UCLA managed three drives: two that resulted in missed field goals (WHAT?) and one that resulted in a touchdown. I can handle the touchdown, if it came on maybe 1 of 3 drives, but the other two weren’t botched scoring opportunities. A 21-10 lead isn’t horrible going into half, usually. But this is Nebraska. If anyone can screw the pooch, it’s Nebraska. This time it marked the crumbling of a team. We were gliding smoothly, but UCLA came in to send us heels over head.

We went in at half with no momentum (it’s a thing, I promise you). I hoped it would rejuvenate us, but it didn’t. We had nothing to show.

By the time the second half started, we had met with the wedding party for brunch. Beers and food had been provided. It was going to be a good day. Nebraska would win. I’d get a healthy buzz. I’d have a full tummy. Until…

Thirty-eight points. THIRTY-EIGHT EFFING POINTS. UNANSWERED!! There’s absolutely no point in trying to break down the breakdown. It’s been done a hundred times – maybe thousands – in the days since then. There’s nothing more to say.

I watched the game with the 10 other groomsmen, the groom, his father, and his grandfather. His grandfather doesn’t even know me and he had no problem talkin’ shit! If it wasn’t wedding day…

Then, as if my day couldn’t get worse while UCLA ran squares around Nebraska, I grabbed one of the catered sandwiches that was brought to our hyper-modern house set in the hills of sunny Santa Barbara, overlooking countless miles of Pacific ocean…and it was mislabeled.

I took a bite of what was supposed to be a turkey-bacon-cheddar panini and instead got a mouthful of some salad stuffed between two slabs of cold wheat bread. I stood there at the edge of the Western world with a fistful of plants and dry bread, gazing over the deep blue, contemplating my life’s decisions that led me to such a deplorable misery.

I finished my vegetarian excuse for a sandwich, and tuxed myself up. I folded, unfolded, refolded, unfolded, and refolded my pocket square as the final seconds waned. I held onto hope as I tucked that little, white piece of silk into my jacket pocket, but it was to no avail. The score remained 41-21 when the clock hit zero. The Huskers never scored another point.

I was sad for a minute until I realize that I had a wedding to go to. A WEDDING. I had no time to mourn a loss. There were bigger things at hand. A WEDDING. A wedding where there would be booze and food and love and happy people. I had a friggin’ tux on, and I’ll be damned…I looked good. I was going to watch a great friend of mine get married to his beautiful bride. Nothing could ruin today, not even a Nebraska loss or a crappy sandwich.

Plus, it was comforting to know that later that night, while the groomsmen and bridesmaids roamed the streets of Santa Barbara, bellies full of wine and champagne, the Bride and Groom went went to the hotel and they sure as shit scored enough to make up for the Huskers’ shortcomings.

Footnote: Another couple attending the wedding snuck off to get naughty near the tiger exhibit at the Santa Barbara zoo during the reception. That pretty much makes up for anything bad that ever happened.

Fuckin’ Bo Pelini

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Earlier today, a recording of Bo Pelini’s curse-filled, angry pregame pep talk from 2011 was leaked. It went something like this…

Fuck

 He said some other things too. I’m not even upset he said “fuck you” to the fans. How many fans have said “Fuck Bo!”? They got their comeuppance. How would you feel if you’re coaching a team and you’re down at halftime and the students (who should be some of the most prideful people in the stadium because those are their peers on the field) start bailing and booing at halftime? You wouldn’t be happy. Especially when you know you have a three-touchdown comeback brewing inside of you.

I’m upset he called us fairweather. But that’s OK. He actually apologized and said he didn’t mean it. I believe it. I understand people say things they don’t mean when they are upset.

How many times have coaches said something behind closed doors that they wouldn’t want anyone else to hear? How many times have YOU said something in privacy and would never expect it to be heard. I’m willing to bet that if most of your friends know what you say about them behind your back, they wouldn’t even visit your grave. Consider yourself lucky you aren’t in the public eye, or being interviewed and expected to be a fucking robot all the time.

We all have moments of indiscretion, but hardly any of that is ever caught on tape. So lets talk about the reporter shall we? We’ll leave Deadspin out of this. They report on everything, so I don’t think they did anything wrong here.

Why don’t we talk about Greg Sharpe, who is also suspiciously quiet on his twitter account today?

What the fuck are you doing Greg? You knew Bo was emotional. You knew that Tom Shatel (also quieter than a mouse) of the Omaha World-Herald had already pissed off the man who needs almost no provocation anyway. Your recorder was on, whether you knew it or not, when others assumed it was off. You recorded comments that you know were never meant to be heard by anyone other than you and Chris Anderson, the associate AD of community relations.

Why the fuck would you keep those comments for two years? Why would you keep them in the first place? You knew you weren’t supposed to have them. I get it. Nebraska has a one-party consent rule that states only one person needs to know a recording is taking place. I have lived in California my entire life and studied journalism here. As a former member of the media, I realize that we can be complete assholes when trying to get a story and quotes. I can call you an asshole, Greg Sharpe, because I understand it. I’ve been there.

But here in California we need two-party consent, which means the reporter has to ask for permission before hitting a record button. When someone says something is off the record, you respect those wishes and leave their comments off the record. What happened in that room with Bo is pretty slipshod, Greg. You even say on the recording, “Lets get this started.” What does that mean? It means you didn’t know the recorder was on. YOU DIDN’T EVEN GIVE YOUR ONE-PARTY CONSENT TO YOURSELF, YOU DICK. This means you should never consider this ever recorded. It should have been deleted. It was never meant to be recorded, and the fact that you kept it is a real cheap move.

But if you kept this and leaked it, maybe you did know it was being recorded…giving yourself one-party consent. And that’s an even bigger dick move! You even had the nerve to bring up the student section being half empty. You started provoking Bo. In this case you wanted inflammatory comments. If that’s the case, you just face-fucked your integrity until it bled from the ears. I hope no one gives you another interview for fear of being secretly recorded for you to use two years later for nothing.

We here in California study journalism ethics, and one of the things we learn is you don’t burn your sources. (Yes, Bo is a source here.) He’s not just a coach or a quote machine. He has emotions and thoughts and possibly anger management issues. You should lose the trust of the people you interview because now no one knows what was recorded when they spoke with you in private.

The fans, and more importantly, the players gained nothing from this. The fans know Bo curses. The players are on the receiving end of his cursing. The most important people involved here know everything you already leaked. That should have remained sacred between the coach and his institution. The fans should have never heard it because they were never supposed to. You took the natural order of college football and fandom and you fucked it. Every “fuck” and “fuck you” from Bo should be directed right to you.

The only person to gain anything out of this was you. Maybe you hate Bo. Maybe you just wanted to wait until we lost a big game and everyone else was out for his head. Maybe you want him fired. Maybe you knew this tape means nothing if the general consensus is that Bo is a good coach. So maybe you had to wait for the perfect time – a severe torching from UCLA in Memorial Stadium.

We know you didn’t leak it. Probably. Who knows who did?! But the fact is, the tape exists, and it exists by your hand. That makes you a gargantuan asshole.

Preview: Nebraska vs. UCLA

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UCLA bannerLast year, on September 8 (a mere two days before my birthday, thus ruining it), the Nebraska Cornhuskers took on the UCLA Bruins, who pointed and laughed as us as we scrambled after scrambler master Brett Hundley.

We looked a little lost trying to cover Jim Mora’s spread offense. It was embarrassing and unsettling. We put up a mediocre number against what we understood to be a mediocre defense. Apparently they weren’t, and we weren’t prepared. A late interception directly led to a touchdown, and poor execution followed, leaving us to a field goal and an insurmountable 6-point deficit.

No one was happy except for the UCLA fans, which totaled about 47 percent of the crowd. Seriously UCLA, step up your game. If you can’t even go the 30 miles from the Westside to Pasadena, what will we expect of you tomorrow in Memorial Stadium, halfway across the country? I’m sure your team will know you love them when all seven of you show up.

I was lucky to be surrounded by Nebraska fans because I walked into the stadium looking like a damn fool, and had to walk out looking like an even bigger asshole.

Chesty NI hung my head and walked my saggy tits out to the car before anyone could give me the ridicule I deserved. What a mess.

Nebraska was ranked 16 at the time; UCLA was unranked. Therefore, after the loss Nebraska fell from the top 25 for the first time time in 2012. It made sense, at least a bit. Not much analysis needed, right?

Now, riddle me this: WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON WITH THE RANKS THIS WEEK?

Nebraska had a shit first game. Everyone knows. In week 2, they dropped from 18 to 22 in the AP ranks. No biggie, and it was a bit expected, despite us still notching a double-you. UCLA jumped from 21 to 18, almost effectively switching with us. No biggie, they won, and people are riding Hundley’s dick harder than DeAngelo Hall rode DeSean Jackson. It’s to be expected.

Nebraska came out a lot stronger in week 2, with the Blackshirts feeling like they had something to prove. And la Camiseta Negras did their job. They only allowed 13 points,  and 284 total yards. What a difference! What an improvement! The offense even scored 56 points (42 if you don’t count the glorious pick-sixes). What an improvement! The team looked poised and prepared.

The rankings came out and we dropped a spot to number 23. How odd. We did so well!  You know who didn’t drop. UCLA. They actually moved up from 18 to 16. They jumped a spot. How did they play Saturday?

OH THAT’S RIGHT THEY DIDN’T. THEY SAT AT HOME AND PLAYED VIDEO GAMES AND ATE REFRIED BEANS OUT OF A CAN BECAUSE THEY WERE TO LAZY TO PUT IT IN A BOWL AND HIT A BUTTON ON THE MICROWAVE BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO KEEP DOING NOTHING.

Horseshit.

That’s how every single Cornhusker should feel right now. The AP poll shit on our heads with their shitty horse poop. Every man on the team (on both sides of the ball, please!!) should be running out on that field with a bunch of big-steamies in the chamber, ready to back one out onto the chest of every Bruin.

This weekend won’t be easy, but we need the win. We need to take this dump. We’ve been constipated for far too long. We know the defense now. We know Brett now. We know what to expect. Taylor Martinez said today that we should expect to see a bunch of new stuff on offense this weekend. That’s wonderful. As long as the new things aren’t turnovers, I’m pumped.

I won’t get to watch much, as during the latter half of the game, I must be preparing to take part in the holy matrimony of a dear friend. But I’ll be there in spirit with everyone, rudely checking my phone during brunch and our super cool wedding photos.

Follow me on twitter @blackshirtfresh.

…………………………………………………………………..

On a serious side note…
This was a difficult post to construct in the wake of the tragedy in the UCLA and Southern California communities when Bruin wide receiver Nick Pasquale suddenly passed away last weekend. My heart and thoughts are with Nick, his family, and his friends.
The UCLA and Nebraska teams will honor Nick before the game with a moment of silence, and during the game with patches on UCLA’s uniforms and stickers on Nebraska’s helmets. From all accounts, Nick was a stand-up guy with a good attitude and a good sense of humor, and he will be dearly missed. R.I.P

Recap: Nebraska vs. So. Miss. – So. Drunk.

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At some point before Saturday’s game, @FauxPelini tweeted something along the lines of asking people to send party pictures (since deleted). No one did. Husker fans were immediately called out.

I took this so hard. SO HARD. How dare she insult me when I have not had enough time to properly consume? She shot an arrow straight into my Big Red heart. I though to myself, “Oh no you didn’t Lyndsey Joyyy. I’ll show you.”

I showed her by getting extravagantly drunk.

I hardly remember any of the game. I sure showed Lyndsey. However, I do remember Pope Stanley Jean-Baptiste getting all up in the end zone after a beautiful pick. It made me happy. Very happy.

Pope SJB

So I dumped a bunch of beer into my face and became jolly and happy with my friends and family. I got a quick case of grumpy when the Huskers stalled after gaining only nine yards on their first offensive possession. I thought maybe the forgot-how-to-play-football bug had spread from the defense to the offense. But Sam Foltz’s leg went boom, and I really enjoyed that. I waited patiently because sometimes the bus that carries Taylor comes way late. Like second half late.

But the bus came so fast!! The rout was on. Enunwa TD. Evans TD (BLACKSHIRTS. WHAT?!). Someone handed me a mimosa. Then a Husker Power shot. Then a bloody Mary. Abdullah TD. Then another Husker Power shot. Husker Power shots are awful. They taste like a more watermelony Washington apple – the shot, not the food. But as long as the Huskers keep winning, I’ll keep pickling my liver with them.

I was trying to (and succeeding in) celebrating my birthday. My last vague memory of the game is Kenny Bell’s bobbly circus catch for a touchdown.

My unraveling came in the form of successive whiskey shots. Having friends that will buy you birthday shots when it’s not even your real birthday is awesome. It’s not awesome when they do it all at the same time. I think I remember Abdullah’s 37-yarder. I think I was jumping up and down with some random woman named Amy who kept hugging me and saying “Happy Birthday.” She bought me a drink, too. Thanks Amy! Husker fans are great people, but some of them are weird. Wonderfully weird.

One thing that remains though it all the drinks and the partying and slurring and lazy eyes is how quickly ye all of little faith can swing.

Because we want to protect him right? Or are you that mad? It could be either one at any given moment. So the Huskers punted and then So. Miss. scored a touchdown on three plays and we were off to the races.

Hey, here’s some perspective!

That’s a good thing! For the Huskers! What do you know?! BOOM! Everyone started the love again after a stellar Kenny Bell kickoff return and a slippery Ameer Abdullah run.

And then some drunk did this…

The hashtag execution is what gave away your sobriety MytchGraham. It wasn’t just your wild claims of an undefeated season and a national championship. Who would ever think that this is our year?

Follow me on twitter @blackshirtfresh for drunk tweets.

 

Preview: Nebraska vs. So. Miss.

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Week 2 So Miss

It’s not like I’m bitter or anything, but that headline comes straight to you from Sept. 1, 2012. It was after the first game of Nebraska’s season, coincidentally against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles. It was the start of all of Burkhead’s knee troubles last year. It’s hard to tell if it directly led to any losses – the Cornhuskers had a strong backup backfield. But when a team is missing a guy whose nickname is Superman because of his on- and off-field accomplishments…well, it hurts you. Who knows what he would have done to UCLA in Pasadena when we lost by a measly 6 points when I was there, hopes higher than a Good Year Blimp, only to be crushed and crumbled underneath the weight of a school I never cared for despite my SoCal proximity?

I’m not bitter though.

It should seem appropriate that this particular game kicked off the Golden Eagles’ no-win 2012 season and a current 13-game losing streak. At least in the eyes of Husker fans it’s appropriate. The last time So. Miss won a game was Dec. 24, 2011. There shall be no Christmas gifts this year, not from the Huskers.

We’re coming off a wonky-ass game. We’re motivated. Ameer Abdullah and Taylor Martinez have been pushing the team. The Blackshirts are watching the tape. They know what to do. Bo is confident. There’s no reason for Husker fans to worry. I’m not saying there’s no way the Huskers lose this game, I’m just saying there’s no way So. Miss wins it. Right? *Marinades crow for Saturday’s dinner*

But we can’t hold an injured Rex Burkhead against the team forever. The team and the school have given us some absolute delights.

Take for instance Michael Boley. He went to So. Miss. He played professional football for a number of years. He wasn’t bad. He had an INT for a TD once (and probably other times). This pick-6 was nice, but nothing spectacular. It was his celebration that was.

BOLEY SMASH

Boley celebrated his touchdown by smashing the ball off some poor intern’s face. Look at that poise though. Kid took it like a champ.

What’s that you say? Oh, Boley was arrested earlier this year for child abuse? Well, guess he’s a douche bag. Moving on to less douchebaggy Golden Eagles.

Brett Favre! A QB at So. Miss., he still holds numerous records for the school. He is the subject of collegiate folklore due to his come-from-behind wins and upsets of ranked teams. A mere six weeks after a rollover accident and subsequent surgery that led to 30 inches of his small intestines being removed, Favre led a comeback victory over Alabama! The stuff of legends!

Even more impressive, Freshman Favre, a seventh-string QB at the time, came onto the field to lead his team to a (you guessed it) come-from-behind victory over Tulane. This despite being so hungover he was blowing chunks during warmups.

I have no idea who Chunks is, but I can tell you Chunks is not Jenn Sterger’s nickname. Holy shit, that got out of control fast. Oh, who am I kidding? Do you have any idea how hard it was to write “come-from-behind” that many times when discussing Dick-Texter Extraordinaire?

Brett-Favre-PhoneShop

Alright, alright. I know he’s got all sorts of records and is a HOF guarantee. Maybe not a complete douchebag. But he’s at least partial.

So who can come in and save the day? Who can resurrect the reputation of the Golden Eagles? None other than the King of Parrotheads. He’s somewhere wasting away in Margaritaville right now. He drinks, he does drugs, he curses. He doesn’t hide it. We love him for the jerk he can be. He’s awesome. He’s been a staple in my family for years, singing us to paradise while we lounge in the pool. He does the weekends right. Come Monday, he’s still warm in our hearts.

Ladies and gentlemen, presenting, Jimmy Buffett.

DongleBrett

God dammit, Jim. I trusted you.

Follow me on twitter @blackshirtfreshman. Stay tuned for #AfroWatch2013 and #RageWatch2013.

Recap: Nebraska vs. Wyoming – The Trail of Turnovers

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Hoooo boy. Bo Pelini and crew nearly had me eating crow on Saturday night.

Halfway through my second beer, the Huskers gave up a 6-play, less-than-two-minute drive to go down 7-0. Holy crap.

I made my way out of the bar, picking up whatever scraps I could off of the other patrons’ plates. I needed to nab myself a fat little crow to grill up and shove down my gullet, as the game already had an uneasy feeling.

But the Cornhuskers got the offense on the field and they looked OK. So I let the bird go. He was happy, but after the fourth and fifth time I caught and let him go, he just stuck around waiting for my next breakdown. I wrote a book about what I learned.

Crow_Hunting

It was clear Wyoming was prepared. It was clear the Blackshirts…well… weren’t. But this isn’t totally about the defense. There’s certainly enough speculation about what didn’t work and what REALLY didn’t work. Yes, there were times the defense was borderline abysmal. Yes, it gave up 35 first downs. Wait…35? THIRTY-FIVE!? Christ. Maybe there’s more to this defensive turmoil than I thought.

Anyway, if the offense had managed to stay on the field a little longer, late in the game when it was really counted the D wouldn’t have to work as hard. Or as little as it did when it was on the field.

It was pretty clear the offense was strong. The receivers looked great. The running backs were fast. Terrell Newby was out of control. But in typical Martinez fashion, T-Magic turned into T-Tragic for a minute and managed to split the fan-base again.

Look at that! Someone saying something nice for once. I feel happy for Taylor. You know he gets a real ribbing from some people and I don’t think he deserves it….

LIKE NO OTHER QUARTERBACK EVER HAS THROWN AN INTERCEPTION AT A CRITICAL MOMENT WHEN HIS TEAM WAS ON THE CUSP OF SCORING AND LIKELY PUTTING THE GAME AWAY DURING A SEASON OPENER THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO WIN BY 30 POINTS BUT WERE IN JEOPARDY OF LOSING.

But Wyoming did intercept T-Magic and had quick drive to bring the game back to a now uncomfortably close 37-27. I stopped bothering with the crow. By this time I was trying to drink away the pain while sweating uncontrollably on the man to my left.

We’d get the ball back on the kickoff and we’d be fine. We’d keep control and put the game out of reach… And then T-Magic forgot his Krazy Glue on a 4th and 1 and he tried to go bowling. OH LOOK AT THAT @BERRISFUELLER YOU LUCKY DOG YOU GOT A TWOFER TODAY THERE’S A FUMBLE GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH.

Literally (correct usage, BTW) less than 30 seconds later the score was 37-34, and Nebraska was showing strong possibility of botching this game and blowing a streak of 27 consecutive season opening wins.

Nebraska managed to eat up a whopping 25 seconds of play clock before stalling after the ensuing onside kick. If heart attacks were to be had, this is when they happen.

I held back the vomit and rubbed the corn-fed belly of the man on my right. I hardly watched. I couldn’t.

Brett Smith with another run for a first down – Considering violence at this point.

Pass Incomplete – Maybe I’ll just yell at random people.

“Holding, on the offense” – Good.

Pass Complete – Not Good.

Pass Complete – I’ll murder someone.

Timeout – *Pounds beer. Fills glass. Pounds more. Paces nervously. Repeat.*

“Holding, on the offense” – Holy shit. OK. I’ll reduce it to aggravated assault.

Pass Complete for a first down – *Crawls under table. Calls Dexter.*

Pass Incomplete. Game Over. – HUGZ!! HUGZ EVERYWHERE!!

This ended up being a 28-point swing. The score could should have been 51-21 (even 44- 28 would be acceptable) by the time the game was over. No one would be hollerin’ about T-Magic being all fumbley and interception-y. No one would be heating up Bo’s seat because only the first half looked bad. No one would be screeching about Nebraska’s impending loss to UCLA because the Blackshirts only had a case of the suck for on half.

It’s not just the D’s fault. It’s not just the offensive offense. It’s not just the coaching. Those two plays change everything. It’s the butterfly effect. We weren’t prepared for that. It’s not even CLOSE to butterfly season in Nebraska. Give those hefty hunks a break.

You see? Blame everyone, or blame no one. And because blaming everyone would include Kenny Bell and Sam Foltz, we can’t do that. And Stanley Jean-Baptiste. That man is a SAINT.