Before 1900, Nebraska football teams were known by such names as the Old Gold Knights, Antelopes, Rattlesnake Boys and the Bugeaters. In its first two seasons (1890-91), Nebraska competed as the Old Gold Knights, but beginning in 1892, Nebraska adopted Scarlet and Cream as its colors and accepted the Bugeaters as its most popular nickname until the turn of the century. Named after the insect-devouring bull bats that hovered over the plains, the Bugeaters also found their prey in the Midwest, enjoying winning campaigns in every year of the 1890s until a disappointing season in 1899.
After its first losing season in a decade, it must have seemed only fitting that Nebraska move in a new direction, and Lincoln sportswriter Charles S. (Cy) Sherman, who was to gain national renown as the sports editor of the Lincoln Star and help originate The Associated Press Poll, provided the nickname that has gained fame for a century. Sherman tired of referring to the Nebraska teams with such an unglamorous term as Bugeaters. Iowa had, from time to time, been called the Cornhuskers, and the name appealed to Sherman.
Iowa partisans seemed to prefer Hawkeyes, so Sherman started referring to the Nebraska team as Cornhuskers, and the 1900 team was first to bear that label.
Of course, the name caught on and became a Nebraska byword, eventually becoming the official nickname for the state.
There is no official symbol of a Cornhusker and various cartoonists have caricatured the mystical something that typifies Nebraska football - some winning fan approval and others arousing fan ire.
The cartoon character, "Herbie Husker," evolved out of Nebraska's trip to the 1974 Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Artist Dirk West of Lubbock, Texas, designed a Cornhusker cartoon for the Cotton Bowl press headquarters that caught the eye of former Husker SID Don Bryant. Later, Bryant contacted West for permission to use the cartoon, and West expressed a desire to refine his original cartoon and improve some of the character's features. As a result, West was commissioned to draw an original Cornhusker cartoon character that served as a mascot for all Husker athletic teams.
"Herbie" is the registered logo of the Cornhusker Athletic Department, which controls its use. West's concept of Nebraska football is appropriate -a burly, rugged and confident fellow who is proud of both the athletic and the agricultural traditions of the University of Nebraska. The new Herbie made his debut prior to the Huskers' 2003 season opener against Oklahoma State.
In 2006, Herbie was named the national mascot of the year, continuing an outstanding tradition of excellence by the Nebraska Spirit Squads and Mascots.
In recent years, the University has used the Cornhuskers' football helmet superimposed on a script "Huskers" for a football logo, and eight years ago, NU unveiled a block N logo with a script "Huskers." Both are registered trademarks of the Athletic Department. Although Nebraska has continued to make improvements and changes into the coming century, it also takes great pride in its history, so quite fittingly, "Bugeaters" has also been registered for exclusive use by the University of Nebraska.