I got together with the guys at Corn Nation to discuss the upcoming game. Today, we're talking about fanbases and traditions. Soon, we'll talk about the teams, key strategical issues, etc. I'll post a link to my responses to their questions soon.
1. The big news for Nebraska this year has to be the move to the Big 10. How does the Nebraska fan base feel about its new digs?
Aaron: For the most part, Nebraska fans favored the move to the B1G and enjoyed our first season in the conference. Some fans had high expectations (B1G title) while most had realistic expectations (win more than they lose in conference, but struggle at times in year one). There was a lot of history and tradition that was lost when Nebraska made the jump to the B1G. As fun as it will be to see the SEC more in bowl games, I’m hoping that we occasionally get to see a former Big Eight team on the schedule from time to time.
Jon Johnston: The way that Nebraska was treated in its final year made it easy to forget about the Big 12, and, sadly, the Big Eight teams we played for so long. Nebraska was made out to be a home-wrecker, something that Missouri and Texas A&M fans experienced this season as those teams left the conference. In fact, I had a Missouri blogger (not from Rock M Nation) apologize to me after being a little merciless last season that Nebraska was the source of the Big 12’s problems.
The first year in the Big Ten was, like most honeymoons, a lot of fun, although the football wasn’t always the greatest. The conference feels pretty comfortable, but it will be tougher for Nebraska to consistently compete for titles. If there is one thing that Husker fans have yet to grasp, however, it’s that all of the Big Ten teams really really really hate each other. That’s something we’ll come to learn.
2. Describe a typical fall Saturday for a Nebraska fan. What traditions do Huskers hold dear? How do they celebrate a win or mourn a loss? What can Gamecocks expect to observe at the game?
Aaron: In Nebraska, if you want to commit a crime or go shopping or get away from the masses, football Saturday is the day to do it. Almost everyone gets together at a friend’s house to watch the game. If you’re lucky enough to get a ticket 70 rows up in the southwest corner of the endzone, you get to be apart of the third largest "city" in Nebraska for a few hours. Everyone wears red and balloons are released after the first touchdown of the game. We have a rich tradition of power running, but don’t be fooled by the announcers. This Nebraska team will thrown the ball a little more than the one that use to smash everyone with the run. Our Blackshirts are our pride and joy. They’ve had an up-and-down year, but there are always flags waving at the stadium with the skull (wearing a Nebraska helmet) and crossbones.
Jon: That’s what happens in Lincoln anyway. I live in Minnesota. Outside Nebraska there are thousands of expatriate Nebraskans who gather at watch sites all over the country, so don’t be surprised if you’re at the game and the Husker fan next to you lives in Alaska, California or Thailand.
Aaron mentions the Blackshirts, which is the nickname for the Husker defense (although I haven’t called them "Blackshirts" much this season). He also mentioned how hard it is to get tickets. That’s because every Nebraska game has been sold out since November, 1962.
Husker fans are known for being pretty decent fans. It’s traditional for fans to stand and clap for our opponents as they leave the field, regardless of whether it’s a win or loss. We have signs at our stadium in which we proclaim ourselves "The Greatest Fans in College Football". I hate those signs with a passion.
I’d call "red beer" a tradition, too. "Red beer" is a mixture of beer and tomato juice (although I personally use V8 and tabasco sauce). It’s good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
"Mourn a loss"? I’m not sure what everyone else does, but I drink way too much and I’m depressed for days. I should probably seek counseling. Thank God we don’t lose a lot.
Keep reading after the jump.
3. What's your general take on how Nebraska fans feel about this matchup? Do they feel like it's a prime matchup for the Huskers, or are they more apathetic?
Aaron: It’s about where I thought Nebraska would end up. Nebraska gets to see how well they stack up to a good SEC team. Personally, I don’t think this is the year Nebraska helps the B1G beat the SEC, though. The blackshirts have been very poor defending teams with mobile quarterbacks (see Michigan and Northwestern). But any chance to get to watch my team play is a welcome one. As far as the fanbase, I think that not making the conference championship game did take a little steam out of the season. There’s still one more game, but thoughts are starting to be directed towards next years schedule.
Jon: Hard to gauge right now. I think most of us are disappointed in the season, especially with two blow-out losses against Wisconsin and Michigan and a bad loss against Northwestern, so there is a little apathy. That has nothing to do with the bowl game or South Carolina, however.
I’d say most feel that this will be a pretty good game against a pretty decent team and it will be hard for Nebraska to come away with a win. The "Big Ten vs SEC" bowl game thing is new, though, and I don’t think we quite understand the pride that can come of out of a win for the Big Ten.
4. What's the typical Huskers fan's take on Steve Spurrier?
Aaron: I still remember the fun-n-gun when he was down at Florida. Steve Spurrier this and Steve Spurrier that. He walked the walk and talked the talk so he had a right to be cocky. Nebraska had no chance to beat that Gators team in the Fiesta Bowl and they ended up rolling Florida. Back then he annoyed me, but I don’t have any problems with Spurrier anymore. He doesn’t make the national headlines as much as he use to.
Jon: Husker fans remember him from Florida, partially because of the ‘96 national title game in which Nebraska beat the snot out of the Gators, and partially because Husker fans hated everything about the state of Florida since Nebraska kept meeting Florida teams (Miami, Florida State at least, but the Gators were thrown in to the mix for good measure) in the Orange Bowl and losing to them.
Since there’s been no encounter since, I’d say the vast majority of Husker fans hate Steve Spurrier. He is the anti-Tom Osborne. Where Osborne was stoic and of few words, Spurrier always spoke his mind. While Osborne’s demeanor rarely changed regardless of what was happening on the field, Spurrier was a visor-throwing tyrant.
As for me, I’ve always liked Spurrier. I like his sense of humor and while some of his tirades seem over the top, not everyone has to be Tom Osborne.
Osborne is legendary to Nebraskans because of his consistency in winning. I doubt we’d say the same about Spurrier despite how much success he’s had with several different teams. Again there’s that issue - "He’s not Tom Osborne" - and it means more than just about wins and losses.