Monday, November 29, 2010

Saturday Night I'm Going To Party Like It's 1978

It was probably the late 1970s or early 80s, and I was sitting around the dinner table, dining with my parents and brother. On this particular evening, we had the TV tuned to the local news -- mostly as background noise.

It was a rare night that I wasn't enjoying my meal -- a casserole of some sort (of which I'm still not a fan today). "I hate casseroles," I muttered to my plate and no one in particular.

Across the table, my father's fork audibly dropped on his plate. "Young man, hate is a strong word. You can dislike your meal all you want, but you're not allowed to hate it. The only thing you're allowed to hate is that man right there."

My father pointed to our small Emerson television. Barry Switzer, coach of the Oklahoma Sooners, was talking. And that was my indoctrination into Husker football.

Of course, Dad wasn't entirely serious about hating Coach Switzer. In fact, in the years since then, I've always had a fondness for the Sooners. Back then, the Cornhuskers and Sooners were the two heavies that could always be counted on to fight for the Big 8 championship, and most likely a national one.  Epic battles between the brash, foul-mouthed Switzer and the bland, choir boy Tom Osborne.  My allegiances never faltered from the Huskers, but I did always secretly love (and love to hate) Coach Switzer.

Then came the Big 12, and like everything else in sports (and life I suppose), it became all about money and power. Our yearly duel with the Okies ended. And the power (and money) shifted to Dallas and Austin. I'm not here to debate who's at fault -- there's plenty of blame to go around, and what's done is done.

I pondered all of this last Friday, as I watched the Huskers drub the Colorado Buffaloes (always an enjoyable thing) from our seats in Memorial Stadium. Both teams will soon head off to different conferences and different futures. While the game was great, something felt amiss. I'm no longer able to look forward to annual games against the K-State Wildcats, Kansas Jayhawks, or Missouri Tigers -- the schools where my co-workers and hunting buddies attended. Their stadiums are all a short drive from home.

I'm trading that for far-flung Ohio State and Michigan -- great schools, for sure, but I don't know a soul from either institution.  They're strangers to me.  That'll change over time, but next year is going to be weird.

But for the next week, I'm going to set that all aside and fondly anticipate Saturday night's throwback throwdown between two historic (and hopefully future) powerhouses. And however things turn out, I'll be satisfied that the old Big Eight had one final, proud curtain call.


  1. Scamp: well, it's nice to see Nebraska football back to some semblance of glory. I sure hope Michigan football will get back to that stage some time soon. Here's to some great football games between two great programs... and let's just both beat Ohio State!


  2. Sorry, man...I know you lost, but if it's any consolation I was sitting in the stands at Owen Field when the Huskers hung (I believe, if I recall) 71 points on an absolutely clueless and outmatched John Blake-coached Sooners team...

    I miss the Big Eight...