We are all looking forward to the top 25 football game against UCLA tomorrow, but not without heavy hearts. Before the early kickoff, we are honored to join with our friends from UCLA in a moment of silence in remembrance of UCLA receiver Nick Pasquale, who was hit by a car earlier this week in California.
With this tragic loss, we are reminded of what is truly important in life and our deepest sympathies go out to the Pasquale family, Director of Athletics Dan Guerro, Coach Jim Mora, and the entire Bruin family.
UCLA and Nebraska have a long history of exciting matchups on the gridiron as well as other venues. In fact, our women’s basketball team will open the inaugural season at the Pinnacle Bank Arena on Nov. 8 against the Bruins.
Before kickoff of our football game this weekend and in the midst of all of our Husker fall sports seasons, I want to acknowledge some upcoming important events and relay the wonderful traditions my family has experienced in recent weeks.
This week, we honor Nebraska All-America quarterback Tommie Frazier, who will be inducted into the National Football Foundation’s College Hall of Fame in New York City in December. Even before I became a diehard Husker fan, I watched Tommie on television in awe of his tremendous talent. What a phenomenal athlete, tremendous person and ambassador of the University of Nebraska.
On Saturday, we stay on track for 51 consecutive years of home football sellouts and 13 straight years of home volleyball sellouts. The “wave” we witnessed last week by 8,300 volleyball fans at the Devaney Center was a first for Nebraska, I have been told. Fittingly, it happened on the night we dedicated our new volleyball court to Coach Terry Pettit, another Husker great who worked for Bob Devaney.
Nebraska football game day traditions have no peer and reach out and touch you with all kinds of interesting sights and inspiring sounds. The younger fans love everything about the Husker Nation Pavilion—face-painting, inflatables and playing catch pretending to be the Husker players they idolize.
My three sons, Jack, Joe and Ben, are as intrigued and fired up as Kristin and I during the Tunnel Walk and when dozens of students take off their shoes and wave them in the air, anticipating kickoff. They love following the balloons that go skyward after we score our first points. By the way, if you are a fan of the balloon tradition, be sure and check out the new balloon display on the interior of Gate 20 in East Stadium.
My game day actually begins well before Saturdays when I walk to the office and hear our marching band practicing inside Memorial Stadium on early weekday mornings. The band’s jaunt down R Street and into the stadium on game day is a thrill, just as the players’ unity walk past the Tom Osborne and Brook Berringer statues excite the faithful. We like to keep track of the Weiner Slinger, mascots and Spirit Squads during the games and my sons love the start of the Husker Power chant—the precursor to the Tunnel Walk music and march.
It’s equally exciting to see 50 Years of Blackshirts – another trademarked tradition that we’re showcasing at every home game this fall. This Saturday, we will honor former All-American and current University of Nebraska-Omaha Athletic Director Trev Alberts as one of the Top Eight Nebraska Blackshirts of All-Time, based on two weeks of voting in August on Huskers.com. Outland Trophy winner Rich Glover was featured in the Wyoming season opener and Barrett Ruud, our all-time leading tackler, waved to the crowd and got that “Ruuuuudddd” introduction during the Southern Miss game. I’m eager to see the other fan favorites who will be featured throughout the season.
Before last week’s football game, I had the chance to speak at the Chancellor’s Tailgate and walk the parking lots to meet Husker fans tailgating near the stadium. The passion, the tradition, the fun is everywhere.
We all say there is no place like Nebraska, and that was the message baseball coach Darin Erstad passionately delivered to more than 600 of our current student-athletes following a welcome back to school reception that included a message from Chancellor Harvey Perlman. Without a note or a script, Coach Erstad spoke for fifteen minutes straight from the heart, reminding us all why Nebraska is different and why Husker fans are in a league of their own. He implored our student-athletes to leave a legacy we all can be proud of because that’s what Nebraska is – a unified, global force, dedicated to excellence through hard work, discipline and respect.
Like current Major League Baseball player and former Husker great Alex Gordon experiences now, Coach Erstad recalled enjoying the “Go Big Red!” chants at nearly every Major League ballpark during his career. Some traditions carry with us well beyond Lincoln.
Thank you all for being an important part of our traditions with your undying loyalty, your unparalleled support and your strong belief that there really is no place like Nebraska.
Until next time, stay positive and Go Huskers!
Frazier Enters College Football Hall of Fame in December
Congratulations to Tommie Frazier who will be inducted December 10th into the 2013 National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. Tommie will be part of an induction class which includes 12 First-Team All-America players and two legendary coaches. The quarterback we all know as “No. 15” will be the 16th Husker player to join this elite group and the first Husker quarterback. We are thrilled that five Husker Hall-of-Famers will join Tommie on the field on Saturday when he receives his on-campus salute, including Rich Glover, Dave Rimington, Johnny Rodgers and Will Shields, plus Hall-of-Fame Coach Tom Osborne. Coach Osborne was an assistant to Bob Devaney when Glover and Rodgers played and Nebraska’s head coach when Rimington and Shields played. I know I join every Nebraska player, Husker coach and Big Red fan when I say Congratulations, Tommie … you are truly one of college football’s all-time greats!
East Stadium Faculty, Staff and Public Tours Next Weekend
On Tuesday, September 17, the University of Nebraska Athletic Department will proudly open our east side doors of Memorial Stadium for self-guided tours of the East Stadium Expansion. UNL faculty and staff will get the first opportunity following Chancellor Perlman’s State of the University Address. On Wednesday, September. 18, the same opportunity will open to the general public. Walking tours will include access to Level 600 General Public seating, Level 400 Club seating and the Nebraska Athletic Performance Laboratory (NAPL). The Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior (CB3) will be open only for the faculty/staff tour.
Volleyball Passion Becomes Prominent Part of Our Culture
Friday, September 6 was a historic night for our volleyball program and for former coach Terry Pettit—the man whose name now adorns our volleyball court inside the Bob Devaney Sports Center. Surveying a crowd of more than 8,300 people, Coach Pettit told the crowd that that the main reason Nebraska Volleyball has become a prominent part of our culture is because of the passion and dedication of thousands of people, many of whom attended the match. The 23 teams he coached at Nebraska represent the very foundation of our program, and we thank Coach Pettit for his trailblazing efforts. We also congratulate his daughter, Villanova setter Emma Pettit, for playing like a champion that evening against the program she grew up loving.
Watch Terry Pettit and John Cook Describe Dedication