How do you sum up the rivalry that defined your CU experience? I don't know if I can, but I'll give it the ole college try. In this preview, for what very well could be the final time CU and Nebraska meet on the football field of battle, I'll try to sum up the rivalry, what it means to me, what it means to the CU fan base, and what I think the final meeting will entail. I may not do it justice, but I promise you that this preview will be entirely biased. I mean it; this post will be entirely 100% objectivity free. If you want objective analysis, head over to the Denver Post, where they whore out their paper to sell a few extra copies to the hick transplants.
("It's alright. I just kicked the ever loving shit out of you, and essentially ruined your program for the better part of a decade, but at least you get the opportunity to embarrass yourself on national TV in a month.")
I'm headed East Friday morning at 1AM. For the last CU-Nebraska game you better believe I'll be there. It's the end of an era. It may have been filled with too few CU victories, but it was a great era none-the-less and I'll miss it. In the final game's honor I present this preview dedicated to hate.
Jump below for the hate-y goodness.
A Program's Rivalry
Bill McCartney learned from mentor Bo Schembechler that having a strong rival can help push your team in the right direction; that if they had some mythical enemy playing the black knight in practices, the players would fight as one to beat that enemy much more than when it was just "this week's opponent". That's why Schembechler would emphasize the Ohio State rivalry at Michigan, and that's why Coach Mac would create and emphasize the Nebraska rivalry at CU.
Mac came in in 1982, colored the Husker game in red on the team schedule, and pointed at them as "our enemy;" the mythical force that we need to beat in order to succeed as one. You see, in reality, if CU could ever consistently beat Nebraska, it would be the sign that they had arrived as a legitimate football power. I'm reminded of the axiom that to start a revolution you have to attack the old guard. Nebraska is/was the old guard, and Mac picked on them to drive the program to where he wants to be (Which is why I like the KU focus of the current basketball program).
For their sake Nebraska was embroiled with a decades long battle with fellow Big 8 rival Oklahoma, and had no need to pick a fight with CU. They routinely brushed off Colorado, and with good reason. Nebraska won the first game between the two teams in 1898 23-10 and have rarely looked back, dominating the all-time series 48-18-2.
(Chris Brown doesn't give a shit about the all-time record, because he's still scoring touchdowns against that '01 Husker D)
So, if CU really hasn't competed over the life of the series, why do we take it so seriously? I think the moment that cemented the rivalry in the minds of the CU community, and especially the players, was the trip east to Nebraska for the 1990 meeting. In the previous season, as the team mourned the loss of their spiritual team leader Sal Aunese, a Husker linebacker insinuated that CU was capitalizing on the loss for it's advantage. I'll let S.I. tell the rest:
There were signs of residual ugliness from last year's contest, a 27-21 victory for the Buffaloes in Boulder as they rode a swell of emotion following the death from cancer of quarterback Sal Aunese. [...] This year, motorists from Colorado were treated to this tasteless piece of graffiti painted across two lanes of Interstate 80 just beyond the state line: SAL IS DEAD. GO BIG RED. - linkYou want to know why we take this seriously? That's it right there. Before then, it was all fun and games; a nice easy way to motivate the players and the fanbase. Ever since then, it's been for blood. We've been told, as a collective sporting nation, that the Nebraska fanbase are "the greatest fans on earth." Yet we at CU know the truth. They are vindictive, evil, black-hearted whores just like the rest of us; and their snooty, stuck-up, hypocritical attitude makes us hate them even more. It certainly doesn't help that in that same 1990 season, Husker coach Tom Osborne spitefully voted us just low enough to cost us the top spot in the coaches poll, thereby causing a "split" national title, where there was no doubt we were the best team in the land. Not very Christian of you Dr. Tom.
Speaking of Dr. Tom, I've read how "the rivalry could've been different" had Eddie Crowder succeeded in getting Dr. Tom Osborne to coach at CU in 1978, that the series would have a different look to it. Sure... for the worse. It's easy to talk about that time when CU almost hired Dr. Tom away from Nebraska, but I couldn't care in the least. It's the same as talking about what could've been with Eddie Sutton and/or Bo Ryan with the basketball program; it's essentially meaningless. Point is they didn't have what it takes to be a Buff, and so they went/stayed elsewhere; fuck them, and especially fuck Dr. Tom for trying to drive his folksy puritanical bullshit down America's throat. (Stay in Lincoln where you belong, shit-ass.) Had CU hired Osborne, we would've never gotten Mac, and it was Mac who helped propel Osborne into the ranks of legends by getting a national title first, and driving the rivalry home. Without Mac, not only would we not care as much, but I doubt we'd have our national title. The rivalry, as it stands now, is all about Mac, and we're better off for it.
A Personal Rivalry
Nothing gets you fired up like hate. If you can't get your blood up when the enemy staring you in the face is your hated rival, then you need to go back to kindergarten.
I don't even feel this way about the Cubs or their fans; they're just annoyingly confusing to me (they keep losing... why does anyone still care? I guess I'd have to be a Cub fan to understand. Maybe it helps when mommy and daddy set you up for life; you need some pain to equal things out). Husker Nation holds a special place of hate in my heart. From Dr. Tom and his hypocritical bullshit to Larry the Cable Guy and his fake, media whoring passion for the corn, I "hate" them all. I could give you a list of reasons a mile long: they get too much media attention, their fanbase is like a virus, they stole our 2001 title shot, they talk about their state with such reverence yet are usually found anywhere except that state, Dr. Tom screwed us out of the outright 1990 title we so richly deserved, the state's conservative twinge, the constant espousing of self-righteous myopia from the horde, Eric Crouch, etc. It would all be a lie; I hate Nebraska because Coach Mac told me to.
To this day I have no red in my closet, and I don't plan on changing that in the future. From the very day that I stepped on campus, I was trained (and, to be honest, brainwashed) to hate anything and everything related to "that school". I'll admit that I take it too far sometimes, but you're supposed to do that with college rivalries. Honest to God; once, during a night of drunken hilarity, I convinced a few of my friends that it was a good idea to drive 2 hours to the Colorado/Nebraska border, take a leak on the "Welcome to Nebraska" sign, and then turn right around and come home. That was it; the whole trip. At 3 in the morning no less. That's how seriously I take this, that I would sacrifice an entire evening (and gas money) to make a personal statement and defile the state of Nebraska. That's the closest I got to finding the other team's mascot and shaving the school logo into it. Had I thought of anything more inventive I'd have done it.
Nebraska to me is the enemy. I completely buy into the whole rivalry concept; that focusing on a unifying obstacle, in this case a group of hicks and their beloved football program, helps build a bond with your compatriots. It's the earliest thing I had when I stepped onto campus; hating the color red. I loathe that institution simply because it ties me back to the origins of my CU experience. It could've been anyone; for current generations of CU students it's quickly becoming CSU, for hippies in the 70s it was "the man," but for me and many of my classmates, Nebraska was the opposing force that brought us together. "Us" versus "them" is a powerful message after all. Mac told Buff nation that "them" is Nebraska, so that's the way I go.
(While I was writing, Chris scored another touchdown. That's good hustle!)
I remember on my final Big XII Tournament trip in 2005 myself and the rest of the band ran into the Husker band in the hallways. I didn't know any of the players on that Husker band, and I'm quite sure any reasonable person would've found no reason to be angry with them, yet there I was giving them "the look" and vowing to show them up when we took the court. It's not reasonable, and that's the point. When has anything resembling reasonable been found in the sporting world? It's childish and simple, yet there it is...
A Fanbase's Rivalry
This game means something for the fans and the former players. You need proof? Look at the repeated chants of "Beat Nebraska" that echoed around Folsom as time ticked out on the KSU victory. Look at the way we've mocked a little kid for crying during one of the most humiliating defeats ever thrown upon a program. Look at the scores of CU fans who willingly give up their Thanksgiving breaks to drive 8 hours into one of the most depressing parts of the country to watch a 3 hour football game. We care damnit.
(Your tears are so yummy)
To me, and most Buffs of my generation, playing the corn on the day after Thanksgiving is a birthright. 15 years of playing that game on Black Friday is a goodly time to build a tradition. It's a rivalry, it's a big game, get over it. But I know from personal experience than much of Husker nation not only hasn't embraced the rivalry, but doesn't get why we focus our attention on them.
Buff Nation spends all year seeing Nebraska get the red-carpet treatment on TV and in the press, that they're always considered good because they beat up on St. Mary's School for the Blind Tech State A&M in Lincoln, yet CU plays a tough schedule and gets no love for it. They get love and attention that we feel we deserve, why wouldn't we hate them?
Case-in-point: the 2001 game. Glory, Glory Colorado! The #2 Huskers march into town, and get humiliated. CU racks up the most points ever (at that time) against the vaunted Blackshirt defense, and yet, 2 weeks later, and after CU beat Texas to earn it's only Big XII title, the Buffs are looking on as Nebraska heads to the national title game. Nebraska couldn't even win it's own division, let alone conference, yet they were getting a title shot they didn't earn; over us, no less. There was Eric Crouch getting a Heisman he didn't earn. There was a fanbase getting it's collective dick stroked, yet again, when it hadn't earned a damn thing.
(You can't get ass whupped that bad and still deserve a title shot, I don't care what the computers say.)
We have to sit here and see our stadium invaded by hicks who have nothing better to do in late fall, now that the crops have been picked. It pains me to see a half-red stadium. They even invade our state. Take a look at this pile of hick-trash. Our glorious state is defiled by this vapid whore of a business man who caters to the meth-addicted wandering hordes of Red fans. "Nebraska fans love coming to Estes Park." OF COURSE THEY DO; IT'S NOT NEBRASKA. I'd do anything to get out of that trash heap too. That store's very existence makes me angry. (I'm not one to encourage actual violence, but if someone were to burn the store down before Friday, I wouldn't exactly shed a tear. God damn I hope that dude gets ankle cancer.)
You can't go for years beating much weaker opponents by 50, running up the score in many cases, and then saluting yourselves for being "gracious hosts" without creating a few enemies. It's disgusting, and it burns our collective ass; you're damn right we're going to want to beat those fuckers, humiliate them even. The Husker fanbase has worked damn hard over the years to create enemies all over the place, yet they act confused when they meet someone who wants to laugh as they bleed. WTF?
Whew, now that that's over, I can turn my attention to the game at hand. Nebraska enters having garnered much media attention for steamrolling the likes of South Dakota State and Western Kentucky. Wow, big shock that they hung 50 points on the fighting Hilltopers of WKU. What's that? They couldn't crack 50 on them at home? LOL! What a terrible team. The Huskers couldn't even beat the worst Texas team in a generation at home, and I'm supposed to fear this big red menace? Scoff, I say; Scoff.
Offensively the Huskers have some shitty scheme that racks up lots of yards against opponents who couldn't care less. Blah blah blah, Taylor Martinez, and some other shitty players. Martinez may be out, that's all you need to know. After getting verbally abused on national television last Saturday night, "T-Magic" damn near quit the team. Instead he skipped a practice, and has been wearing an ankle boot all week. I'll bet he plays, but that just gives us an opportunity to knock out our 3rd consecutive starting QB when he inevitably re-injures his ankle. Also, they randomly have a white running back.
Defensively, they have a pretty good group.... FOR ME TO POOP ON! Blah blah blah, some drunken wife-beaters on the D-line, yadda yadda. Honestly, how does this unit get away with calling themselves "the Blackshirts?" Frickin' Austen Arnaud racked up big yardage against these guys. Whoopdie-shit you can hold Kansas to under 100 yards. They were so happy with their Hawk-aided victory over us that they had no interest in even trying against you. Brian Cabral won't stand for any of that Kansas crap. It's on like Donkey Kong beotch.
(Just remember who the real blackshirts are)
Who cares about games played in the 60's; in this decade CU has been competitive, having won 4 of 9 meetings (including 2 of our 8 all-time wins in Lincoln). A win Friday would even the decade up, besides the fact that it'll be the final say in the series.
I think many teams would be happy with the gains we've made over the past 2 weeks under Coach Cabral; for that matter I think many teams would've folded 3 weeks ago after the KU debacle and the firing of the head coach, just look at Minnesota and their 1-3 record after Tim Brewster's firing; I think many teams would see a fired up Husker team, one looking to clinch a Big XII title game shot, give it a good effort and head back home after getting the Husker treatment; Fuck that; I think Ryan Miller said it best when he said: "We're not like other teams; We're Colorado."
We are Colorado, and this game means something to us. We want more, and we're going to take it.
Cabral's dark Hawaiian voodoo has gotten the talent on this team to finally play to it's potential, and we've beaten teams solidly over the past few weeks. Speedy will be able to run against the Husker D, Cody will get the passing record, and the Buffs aggressive defense (which is on a major sack binge) will continue it's strong play. It'll certainly help that the Husker QB situation is a mess, and that many in Husker Nation are starting to doubt king hick face.
There isn't a road jinx anymore; Hawk is gone and the pride and tradition of the Colorado Buffaloes is no longer entrusted to the timid and the weak. These are men, and they're going to war Friday.
I hope Missouri enjoys it's trip to the Big XII title game, because we kick the ever loving shit out of Nebraska Friday afternoon. CU 7,485 NU -24. (Real prediction: CU 38 NU 35, with a Alex Henery miss to make up for '08)