John Cookwent on his Tuesday night Husker Sports Network Radio Show wearing a marketing hat. Nebraska's head volleyball coach invited Big Red fans to help his No. 10 Huskers host a successful "Red Out" when No. 12 Iowa State visits the Bob Devaney Sports Center for the last non-conference match before Big Ten Conference play begins next week at four-time defending NCAA champion Penn State.
"This is the one time every season that we play at the Devaney, so this is a chance for everyone who's never been able to get into the Coliseum to come out and show their support," Cook said. "We're playing a team coached by a Nebraska All-American (Christy Johnson-Lynch). Iowa State won a five-set match last week at (No. 7) Florida, and that's as tough as it gets, right there. How many times does anyone win at Florida?"
Glad you asked, Coach, because the answer is about as often as someone wins at Nebraska. The Huskers are the NCAA's winningest program since 2000, and Florida is the No. 2 program in the same time frame.
Cook envisions Husker fans buying their tickets to the Devaney and making volleyball's 8 p.m. match a double-header Red Out Day in Lincoln. Nebraska's Ticket Office already has sold about 10,000 tickets for the Husker-Cyclone match, and Cook is hoping 2,000 more fans can put another NU crowd in the NCAA's all-time Top 10.
NU Part of 10 Largest NCAA Regular-Season Crowds
Nebraska has made a habit of clicking turnstiles like no one else. The Huskers, in fact, have produced the all-time top 10 largest regular-season crowds in NCAA volleyball history - ranging from the record 13,870 crowd against UCLA at the Devaney in 2009 to the No. 10 all-time crowd of 11,032 in 2001.
All 10 regular season crowds were in Nebraska - seven at the Devaney and three at Omaha's Qwest Center. UCLA has been NU's opponent for three of those all-time 10 largest crowds and Colorado for two. Other top 10 crowds matched Nebraska against LSU, Hawaii, Penn State, Creighton and Illinois.
Cook believes Husker football fans would enjoy capping a Saturday with a competitive 8 o'clock volleyball game following ABC's 2:30 matinee. As an engaged football fan himself, he has some favorite metaphors that describe the difference between winning and losing.
"In volleyball," Cook said, "it's all about serving and passing. Serving and passing in our sport are like the O-line and the D-line in football. That's where almost all games are won or lost."