The 1st Annual Big Red Preview Party

The fanfare was in full effect at Devaney tonight as Nebraska held their first annual "Big Red Preview Party". Huskers ranging from the likes of former LB, Tom Ruud to recent legend, Tommie Frazier attended, marking this as a gala-event. It's been yet another campaign of sorts by the new A.D. in an attempt to pump up the NU fans for what will be Pederson's first football season, one that he no doubt hopes will be a rebirth rather than a continuing regression.

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An estimated crowed of 1,200 people attended the first annual event Thursday evening. An event that continues the fervent efforts of Steve Pederson and company in promoting Nebraska athletics.

The party, consisting of current and former Huskers along with the coaching staff attended the event that was sponsored in part by a variety of vendors from around the city of Lincoln.

Amongst the collection of former Huskers was Tommie Frazier, Tom Ruud, Chad Kelsay, Eric Crouch, James Sims and Damon Benning, just to name a few. Out of those, Ruud, Kelsay and Benning all got up to speak at one point during the event.

The gist of the event was obvious, promote this up-coming football season and as Pederson has captained this P.R. ship, he got his first chance to see just what kind of response he would get from the public that payed to be a part of the event.

I'm sure he couldn't have been more pleased.

What was an energetic applause quickly turned into a center-wide standing ovation, Pederson exclaiming during, "And people wonder why I came back".

The energy was apparent throughout the entire event, each participant receiving an energetic reception. Almost equally energetic to Pederson was the head coach himself, Frank Solich, who came to the podium amidst his own theme music, the intro. music to the infamous "Tunnel Walk".

Solich addressed the crowed, introduced the coaching staff and continued with his promotional diatribe, while those coaches who spoke following Solich (Barney Cotton and Bo Pelini) did likewise, but what probably got the most rise out of the crowd was (not surprisingly enough) a statement or rather, exaltation to the crowd, harkening back to his days at Ohio State, where their slogan was that they had the "best damn band in the land" to which Pelini replied added emphatically that it was Nebraska that had "the best damn fans in the land".

Yet, another standing ovation.

I shouldn't dismiss one of the almost-equally ecstatic reactions, this coming from when the newly elected captains of the football team spoke. Actually, only Judd Davies and Demorrio Williams spoke, Trevor Johnson and Jammal Lord opting out of this

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opportunity, but more specifically, it was when Williams spoke ever so briefly, the crowd erupted in applause and probably praise as well. While Williams is renowned for the constant presence of his voice on the field, he was brief this time, finishing off with "The Blackshirts will be back".

Damon Benning said an event like this, "It's about time", his opinion seemingly reflective of pretty much everyone else there.

It's been a theme since the Arrival of Pederson back to Nebraska, via the University of Pittsburgh. Each project, each promotion, each event, all having some basis for getting fans more involved. If this had been Bill Byrne and Nebraska had come off it's worst season in 40 years, you could easily assume that this was all some knee-jerk smokescreen to try and take away from the fact the season was just that bad.

It's not though and over his brief time, Pederson has proved that even if you can't determine the ultimate resolve for all the plans meant to bring fans "back" to the program, the reactions at a unique event like the one Thursday evening certainly seems to be a good indication, Pederson's plan is working.

It's doubtful that even after such a season as the football team had, fans would be ready to jump ship, but events like this and especially the one slated for the season-opener against Oklahoma State where some 800+ former Huskers will make the journey to Lincoln, fans are not only not looking to jump ship, most aren't even stirring in their seat.............well, anymore.

Steve Ryan can be reached at or 402-730-5619

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