For the longest time, I couldn’t find this old rant about Nebraska fans I had posted on my wife’s message board … until today. I did a happy dance and decided to post it here for archival purposes. If you haven’t read it yet, enjoy. Also, if you enjoy this general mentality of hating Nebraska, it is quite evident in my book, Eyeblack Odyssey. Buy a copy if you haven’t.
(Originally written Oct. 5, 2011)
To accurately describe my hatred of Nebraska is akin to asking a person in the throes of a passionate argument to settle down for a bit and while they are at it, could they please type up a reasoned response letter to an I.R.S inquiry? This is not something easily achieved. Especially not in a quick fashion. But I shall endeavor to limit myself anyway…
I hate Nebraska, firstly and primarily, for beating my team consistently and thoroughly. This is an important allowance on my part, as it provides context for the rest of my rant — but should also not diminish it. If this were truly about sour grapes, petty jealousy, or just bitter disappointment, I do not think I would have the rationality to allow for this simple fact. Nebraska beat Kansas State a lot. Convincingly. I do not like this. And thus is the foundation of our relationship.
But like a properly constructed home, lovingly built through skill and patience, my dislike for Nebraska does not consist merely of a solid foundation. Oh no, it is a web of complex emotion and reaction to events that have occurred over a great many seasons that allow me to reach my current level of enmity.
I want them to lose every game. By sixty points.
The starting point for this mindset is the losses, and they were many. Nebraska holds a 78-15-2 lead in the all-time series, and while I’ve only been around for a small portion of those losses, the record itself is painful in the way few things in athletics are. But again, this is just our baseline. OU, another traditional Big 8 power, holds almost as bad an advantage: 70-17-4. But the disgust for OU is less severe. I can explain…
It comes back to the fans. The attitude. The way the program carries itself. OU, for as talented as it was, was equally flamboyant. Those guys flaunted the rules with a kind of Miami-like passion. It was remarkable to behold, really. Switzer. The Boz. Hell, their team nickname is based around the very concept of cheating. Does one expect class and restraint here? No, one doesn’t. They were genuine. And yet even though their fans were angry, vile, and deluded when their team wasn’t winning in the mid-90s, for the most part, they left us alone. Bigger fish to fry, you see. Texas. Miami. Whoever. They did not linger, because they did not have to.
Nebraska lingered. When three weeks had passed, and you saw a Nebraska fan at church, said Nebraska fan asked about the football game. It was not a friendly way of making conversation. It was a deliberate attempt to establish a pecking order. “We may be fairly equal in the real world, good friend, but my team is better than yours, and I will not let you forget it.” This type of treatment is generally reserved for one’s rivals, yes? And it is usually done so in an aggressive manner, not in disingenuous friendliness. Nebraska fan winked and smiled as he always reminded you that his team was the better one (“always” because they nearly always won). And if that wasn’t enough, he had the temerity to call himself a part of the “best fan base in America.”
But Nebraska fan is not so different from the rest of us. After thirty straight years of losses (literally thirty straight years of losses! — I had not been alive the last time we had beaten them!), Kansas State finally broke through and won in 1998. It was our year. It was our time. And after 30 years, could they give us credit? No they could not. And what made that worse, is their so-called “best fans” questioned our fan base for celebrating too much.
Are you kidding me with this crap? First win in 30 years? Over a group of people that had been rubbing your nose in it for 30 years? Over a bunch of apologists who explained away fourth-quarter touchdowns in 50-point blowouts as being “preparation” for future games? And then they want to whine about a face mask? No thanks.
We beat them again. We got booed. We beat them again. We caused their “best fans” to leave early. I thought they never did that? They did it. We made them do it. Oddly enough, we joined Colorado as having the “worst fans” in the conference. Never mind that these were the only two teams to stand up and beat them once in a while. Never mind that they were losing now, and that didn’t feel so good.
(Not so different from the rest of us, eh?)
Eventually, their school and athletic program turned their back on the Big 12, and their departure created the instability we must now all deal with for the foreseeable future. That is fact. They may have left for some very good reasons, but their departure crippled my conference and has left my school’s athletic future in doubt. I can not abide that.
But I understand their rationalizing. For a program so far in denial about what it truly is, wanting so much to be the “nice guy” rather than the “bully,” but never ever wavering from its surest nature deep down, this move is classic Nebraska. Blindside everyone. Sucker-punch them. Walk away with your chest puffed out about your having “won” … and then blame someone else for making you do it afterwards.
I do not miss you Nebraska. I do not miss your fans. I would wish you luck in your new conference, but it would not be sincere, and you would not need it anyway. Nebraska, one way or another, will always land on its feet. It may stab you in the neck to do so, but at least it will be smiling at you when it does it.
Be careful, Big 10 fans.