If Frank Solich still coached at Nebraska, this is one storyline that wouldn't exist for Saturday's K-State-Nebraska game. Allan Evridge would not be the Wildcats starting quarterback, or even wearing purple and white. He'd be wearing red on the opposite sideline - maybe he'd even be taking snaps for the Huskers. Alas, Solich is coaching the Ohio Bobcats, and Evridge will be lining up under center for the Wildcats on Saturday, whether his fellow Nebraskans like it or not.
Evridge described his first trip to Memorial Stadium, which took place shortly after his family had moved to Nebraska. He went to a game with a friend and was immediately struck by the crowd. "I've never seen so much red in my life."
Evridge didn't actually grow up in Nebraska, his family moved there while he was in high school, but in that time he became very familiar with Lincoln's Memorial Stadium. He attended every home game his senior year, and developed a great appreciation for Solich's Cornhuskers.
With so much experience around the 73,918-capacity stadium, which will host its 275 consecutive sellout on Saturday, Evridge knows about the tradition and history surrounding Nebraska football and its fans. "It's definitely a neat atmosphere," Evridge said. "I'm looking forward to getting a chance to play."
Evridge said he'd always had an interest in K-State's program, but admitted that, if not for Nebraska's coaching change, he'd be a Husker today. "Since I'd committed to Coach Solich and his program before I'd gotten an offer (from Kansas State), the offer came right in the mail after I had committed- once I'd committed, I thought my word was very important, and I wasn't going to back off of it. It's kind of the way I've been raised," Evridge said.
"Once (Solich's) staff was gone, I'd felt that I had committed to Coach Solich and his staff, so once he was gone I chose to look in to Kansas State."
After Solich was fired, Evridge said he waited for Nebraska to make a decision on a new coach, but went with what he knew when he discovered the search would be long and drawn out. What he knew was K-State. "I really liked Kansas State," Evridge said. "I liked what I had here."
He committed to K-State, but received a phone call from Nebraska coach Bill Callahan the weekend after he was hired. Evridge chose to stick with his commitment to coach Bill Snyder. He admitted that there was some pressure on him and his family to stay in Nebraska - mostly small things, like phone calls and emails. He denied that anyone ever drove through his parents' yard, but said anything that may have happened should be forgotten.
"There were things that happened, but I'd like to leave that in the past," Evridge said. "I think it was a small minority speaking for the majority of Nebraska fans. As a whole, they're a great fan base, and I have nothing but good things to say about them."
As for the reception he'll receive when his name is announced in front of the "sea of red," Evridge isn't sure what to expect. "It could be cheers, it could be boos," Evridge said. "Either way, it's going to be a fun game."
Evridge said playing in front of lively crowds often bring the excitement level of individual players to higher levels. "Anytime you go out on the field and there's a lot of cheering or booing, or there's a lot of noise coming, it kind of gets you going," Evridge said. "You know it's time to play football."
While the game does hold a somewhat special meaning to Evridge, he's not getting too caught up in the hype. "I've seen (the atmosphere of Memorial Stadium), I know what it's like," Evridge said. "I'm more worried about the Xs and Os right now, trying to get the game-plan down, and putting a win in the win column." He said the only time he really thinks about going back to play near his old home is when it's brought up by someone else, otherwise, it's all about preparation.
Nevertheless, Evridge did mention another reason this game is a little bit different than any other. "My older brother, Josh, is flying down from Montana," Evridge said. "It will be the first time he's seen me play since I was a sophomore in high school."
Evridge has yet to win a game as the starting quarterback, but a match-up against a struggling Nebraska squad could do the trick. If the struggling K-State offense can game some consistency, Evridge could pick up a very memorable victory in his home state.