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“Massive depression sweeps across the state as we now have to wait another week to watch the Huskers.”

That tweet by a University of Nebraska football fan sums up months of hype and waiting that were wiped out by a massive rain storm, complete with thunder and lightning, during what was to be the season opener and the beginning of the Scott Frost era on September 1.

What, you ask (in case you have been under a rock for a few years) is so important about the Frost era? This T-shirt slogan speaks to that. “Devaney. Osborne. Some other guys. Frost.”

As a refresher course for those of you who may need it, football became a big thing in Nebraska in the early 60s when Bob Devaney was hired away from the University of Wyoming to replace Bill (three plays up the middle and punt) Jennings. It wasn’t long until football-crazed Nebraskans had some more recent big times to discuss in addition to their 1941 Rose Bowl appearance (they lost 21-13 to Stanford). Coach Biff Jones went 4-5 the next season and left.

While we’re digging in the archives, you might be interested to know that this team name Cornhuskers came about in 1899 when Cy Sherman, sports editor of the Nebraska State Journal, used it. Before that, the team, which actually formed in 1890, had been known as the Tree-Planters, the Rattlesnake Boys, Antelopes, Old Gold Knights and the Bugeaters. Shame on you for laughing at the team name of Nebraska’s almost first 2018 opponent, the Akron Zips.

Before Devaney, Nebraska endured its first “some other guys” stretch with six coaches in eight years. Devaney went 47-8-0 in his first five seasons. After 6-4 seasons in 1967 and 1968 he turned to a young assistant coach, Tom Osborne, and his plan for the I-formation which brought Nebraska football out of the doldrums and started a streak of 9-win seasons from 1969 to 2002. Devaney also set an NCAA record with 35 bowl trips from 1962 to 2003.

Devaney’s Nebraska teams won national championships in 1970 and 1971. Devaney wanted to retire but was convinced to stay on and try for a third championship. It didn’t happen and he became athletic director in 1972 and hand-picked Osborne who coached for 25 years. Osborne’s teams won national championships in 1994, ‘95 and ‘97. Frost was a member of that ’97 team.

So now you understand the significance of that T-shirt, right? As for the second round of “other guys,” the consensus is that Nebraskans would like to forget what happened after Frank Solich, a former Osborne player and assistant coach, had consecutive winning seasons. Solich was fired by the first of two forgettable athletic directors who hired a couple coaches who weren’t a good fit. The second athletic director also hired a dud of a coach, by Nebraska standards.

But, it’s a new day with new faces and a new attitude about Nebraska football. Only Nebraska spirit would keep 90,000 fans waiting in a rainstorm with lightning flashing well within view for nearly 3 hours. Months of preparation and speculation came down to the weather. Fitting in a state where people know the weather almost better than they know winning football of late.

One sports reporter noted that many students stayed in the stadium, dancing and singing in the rain. Laughing and talking … to each other and not looking at their phones or tablets. Folks who normally sit in the same rows or sections to watch football had a good chance to get acquainted with long talks in the concourse areas and parking garages where they planned to wait out the storm.

The first in-game delay at Memorial Stadium since Sept. 7, 1991, was taken in stride by a fan base that has seen its fortunes rise and fall a lot in the last 14 years. It’s easy to understand the excitement of a possible return to glory days.

This Husker football stuff should be a good main event to take our minds off the sideshow of state and national politics and the November election. Let’s hope so!

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J.L. Schmidt has been covering Nebraska government and politics since 1979. He has been a registered Independent for 19 years.

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