During the season, I am like a sponge, sucking up all of the information a person can possibly withstand without resorting to things such as illicit drugs or attending a Colorado recruiting party (REDUNDANCY ALERT!). I take in everything: stats, scores, players, rankings, projections, award nominations, the works. If it rolled by on ESPN College GameDay/Night? It's in the old BlankNoodle ready for processing. I debate the effectiveness of the running game with several close friends who too dream of the Scarlet and Cream. Then it hits like Trev Alberts off a weak side blitz: the off-season.
So, what's a person to do? One can only study so much tape (lie) or bust up his buddy's knuckles trying to perfect a skinny post (true) or even rack up 9 national titles in consecutive seasons on his PS2 (somewhere in the middle). The fact is, once the chalk dust settles and the simulated-crispness of the Memorial Stadium FieldTurf drifts to sleep for its eventual nap, I like to sit back, relax and take stock. I like to remind myself of just why I came to be a Cornhusker fan, more specifically, what made me a fan of the program. I've been asked who I was loyal to, the coaches or the uniforms? The players or the dream? Good question. Allow a Blankman to elaborate.
One thing I have always admired about Nebraska was the desire and the focus to be a complete program. Not just a random hodgepodge of clicks and clacks that would rampage to 9 wins a season for a long time, but a cohesive unit bent on making good men great and great men extraordinary. Step aside from the playing field for a moment, from the crack of pads and crunch of bones, over to academia and public service. I was amazed, even as a Blanklette, at how ‘Huskers would come to schools and talk about the importance of reading or culture, art and science. As a youngin', I had a knack for figuring out when people were full of it. None of these gentlemen were. They believed in what they sold, they were what they peddled: they were champions on the field and off as cliché and utterly trite that might sound.
Those who are familiar with my writings know that I have an affinity for the lads and lasses who slide their arms through a scarlet uniform and perform for our benefit at any level. Sure, I'll be honest, I may not understand the finer points of gymnastics or rifle competition, but gosh darnit, someone else surely does. The faith that I have allows me to be able to turn to that able-minded fellow and say, "I say, Fidius! Take a moment from your squat thrusts and inform me as to the endeavors of our fine scarlet tumblers!" or something to that effect. I take pride in the people that the U surrounds herself with because I take pride in the people that I, myself, surround myself with. Once you slip on the white shell with the red N, you're family. I know, that's tough to swallow/concept for a person outside of the program or even the state of Nebraska, but it's true. Call it what you want, I enjoy it just the same.
I've often been fascinated with people who tell me I can't do something. I wonder what would posses a person to outright defy the idea that another human being was capable of something grand? NU's heard them all and then some though, haven't they? They can't win the Big 8, they can't win on the road, they can't win with the option, they can't defend a passing team, they can't hold onto the football or they can't pass. They can't win the big one, they can't win a bowl, they can't keep winning, they can't keep it up, they just plain can't. The problem for those who say NU can't is that they can and they do. Repeatedly. I recently was fortunate enough to waltz down the halls where NU's trophies lie and, I gotta be honest folks, that's a whole lot of "You Can'ts" wrapped up and responded to in one nice golden package, one right after another.
I was conversing with a gentleman from the Alumni Association not too long ago and after he told me he couldn't get me a lock of Grant Wistrom's hair for the 1,591st time, he informed me that an out of state gentleman, I believe he was from the land of Rocky Top, said that Nebraska had no equal when it came to telling their story. Ah Ha! There it is: The story of Nebraska. You all know it. You've told it to your sons, your daughters and your grandchildren. It's as familiar to them as Peter Pan or Goldilocks except there's a lot more hitting and gripping the facemask costs 15 yards and an automatic first down. The time when the Turmanator reigned or when The Jet zoomed past defenders like a '69 Camaro. The days of Wistrom and Peter or Glover and Ferragamo. Dave "The Dealer", Tom "Trainwreck", "Super" Demorrio, they're all there, woven into the fabric of the tapestry that hangs across this state like a security blanket.
So, there it is, folks. A brief synopsis of just why I feel the way I do and why I am a repeat Customer at the Bank of the Big Red. It's the belief, the idea, the dream and the gift. It is every reason to believe, the cycle of life in many a Nebraskan lad, it is the life-force from within. It is credence, it is honor, it is humility and belief in one's self and one's peers. It is our way, the Nebraska way, the University of Nebraska's way. That and they tell a damn good story. You know me, folks, I'm a sucker for a good story.
Questions, commentary and your Big Red Garage Sale 2K4 winnings can be sent to Blankman71@cox.net.