Going Deep: Sellout Streak Picks Up Against CU
Of the many questions lingering in light of Nebraska’s canceled football game against Akron, one involves an ongoing NCAA record.
That, of course, is the coveted Memorial Stadium sellout streak, which sits at 361 games through the 2017 season.
Another sold out crowd reveled in an electric Tunnel Walk entrance for the debut of head coach Scott Frost on Sept. 1, and it roared as the opening kickoff sailed through the back of the end zone.
Then lightning struck, and teams trotted to their locker rooms, never to return. For the first time in history, weather had canceled a Nebraska football game.
That means nothing that happened Saturday technically happened – the kickoff, the players’ participation or the sellout.
Think of it this way: You can't count a soldout game if the game didn't exist.
So Nebraska will open the 2018 season Saturday against Colorado, when Memorial Stadium will boast consecutive sellout No. 362.
Nebraska has sold out every home game since 1962, the first year of coach Bob Devaney, an ongoing NCAA record for consecutive sellouts. Notre Dame has the second longest sellout streak, active at 263 games. It dates to 1974.
Nebraska Director of Athletics Bill Moos, in a Wednesday morning gathering with the media, said he’s looking at options to replace the canceled game.
“It’s a little premature to say which direction we’re going,” Moos said. “We do want to play 12 games. We do want to be bowl eligible.”
One option, Moos said, would be to play a game on Oct. 27 – currently Nebraska’s bye week – against an opponent, likely from the lower Football Championship Subdivision, with a game to fill.
Moos said Nebraska and Akron have also discussed rescheduling their game after the regular season – assuming neither Nebraska nor Akron is playing in its respective conference championship game on Dec. 1.
That possibility, combined with the fact Moos wants seven home games for Nebraska fans regardless of bowl eligibility scenarios, has Moos favoring an Oct. 27 game. However, that’s far from certain.
This much is certain: If Nebraska plays another game, it will be in Memorial Stadium, not on the road, or at a neutral site.
“I want to take care of our fans,” Moos said. “We want to play seven home games. It’s important to me that we do that. We’re looking for a home game.”
Fans who purchased Akron tickets through the Nebraska ticket office will be issued a new ticket in the event of a rescheduled game. As stated on the back of those tickets, no refunds will be given.
Back in Gold
Nebraska defensive players this week have been practicing in gold jerseys, a look not seen around here in a couple of decades.
Frost, who played under Tom Osborne from 1995-97, is bringing back the tradition of reserve defensive players wearing gold jerseys, with the starters, of course, wearing Blackshirts.
Only, for now, coaches have not awarded Blackshirts, meaning all members of the defense are wearing gold in practice. Scout team defenders are wearing red and white.
“It’s just another way to entice us,” sophomore safety JoJo Domann said. “You’re not in black, you’re not in white or red anymore, you’re in yellow. It just makes a Blackshirt that much more wanted.”
Domann looked down and gave his Adidas-labeled jersey a tug.
“They’re actually pretty nice jerseys, to be honest,” he said.
But they’re not Blackshirts, and that’s what Domann and others are striving to get – and keep.
“I think it’s earned,” Domann said. “I think it can be given or taken at any second. You earn it, every single day, every single week.”
Just three years ago, Troy Walters coached at Colorado, serving as receivers coach under head coach Mike MacIntyre, beginning his sixth season at CU.
“Great man, great tradition at Colorado,” Walters said.
Now, after two years at UCF, Walters begins his first season as offensive coordinator at Nebraska.
Walters admitted Saturday’s game will have special meaning for him but that he doesn’t want himself or players to get caught in the hype.
Walters, who spent three seasons in Boulder, estimated 12-14 players still on Colorado’s roster that he once coached.
Meanwhile, Colorado has a Lincoln native and former Nebraska assistant on its staff.
Ross Els begins his second season coaching Colorado’s inside linebackers, and he also oversees special teams. He joined the Buffaloes after spending the 2016 season as defensive coordinator at Purdue.
A Lincoln Northeast graduate, Ross was an assistant coach at Nebraska from 2011-14. Els is also a former head coach at Hastings College, from 1997-2000.
Domann, meanwhile, is one of five Coloradoans on the Nebraska roster. From Colorado Springs, Domann said he “caught some flack” from friends for leaving his home state to play for the Huskers.
“That stuff doesn’t really get to me,” Domann said. “I came here to play football, to play bigtime football and win championships. That’s why I came here.”
And while obviously disappointed Nebraska’s scheduled season opener got canceled, Domann couldn’t be happier with the scenario that’s unfolded.
“I think it’s only right the season opener, the Scott Frost era, begins against CU,” he said. “There’s a pretty big rivalry there. We’re excited at the task at hand.”
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