Tuesday, September 17, 2013


I always hoped someone would say it, but never in my wildest dreams did it even occur to me that it would come from Nebraska's own head coach. Bo Pelini isn't angry--he just understands what he's working with in Nebraska fans. The guy should get a new stick of gum for being honest. The swearing just makes it more entertaining.

Nebraska fans have been patting themselves on the back since at least the early 90's—maybe before then, but that's when I moved to Nebraska. Nebraska fans are the best. Nebraska fans are the nicest. Nebraska fans are the classiest, sweetest, most devoted bunch. Anywhere. Of all time. And for a while, many outsiders believed it. Many probably still do.

It's not to say that Nebraska fans are secretly burning couches or waiting to throw batteries on the field. Those images are reserved for Ohio State and Colorado, with the fans of the latter apparently harboring extreme feelings of hate for all things Nebraska.

And NU fans lamented their lack of understanding of this hatred. “Why are they so ugly?” “What have we done to deserved this?” And so on. To that I would reply, try being a Texas fan in Nebraska. You'll figure it out eventuallyit's called losing. Repeatedly. In football and baseball (easily the worst fans NU has to offer, in my experienceespecially when NU was good). And yes, as a Texas fan, I'm getting pretty used to losing. But if you're one who takes this sports fandom thing pretty seriously, I can see how it would be irritating.

It was easy for Nebraska fans to treat everyone with kindness back in the 90's--when you've got a team that destroys everyone, it's not very difficult to be nice. As a fan, you don't feel the need to let out your rage when you feel almost sorry the kids on the other team and the fans who came with them. But when the winning slows downor, as was somehow the case almost every time Nebraska played Texas (I have no explanation, only thankfulness), the losses just kept adding upthe true colors of more Nebraska fans came out.

But it wasn't just the winning that made it easy for Nebraska fans to be niceit was also the lack of options. Consider Nebraska, the state: how many division 1 (or whatever it is now) schools are there? One. The University of Nebraska. Colorado has CU and CSU. Iowa has Iowa and ISU. Kansas has KU and KSU. Oklahoma has OU and OSU. South Dakota doesn't count. Texas has UT, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Baylor, and a few more.

It's easy to be upbeat when you're part of an entire statewide movement. Within the state (citing Creighton basketball only proves the rule), there's no division. Only unity. God forbid there be a second team to take the spotlight off of Mother Lincoln. It's like being in high school and wondering why adults aren't as upbeat about the future as you are. And that, for Nebraska fans, hasn't changed.

But the winning has changed, and so have the fans. Be thankful there isn't a Nebraska State fan in the cubicle next to you, constantly getting under your skin about how your coach looks like a mule trying to eat peanut butter. Otherwise, word of NU's average sportsmanship might have gotten out years before Bo's explosion.