It was almost like they weren't real people - it was like a bizarro Big Ten road trip. The generosity and friendliness of their fans can not be overstated.
Nebraska Football Weekend Impresses
In the last 5 years, I've made it to every Big Ten school (and ND) for an away Michigan Football game. As you’ll see, the Nebraska trip was quite unique. I hope Nebraska fans that visit Ann Arbor leave with an equally positive experience when they visit us.
Putting aside the Wolverines for a moment, the Nebraska football community is no doubt the most prideful, classy, hospitable and kind (in my observation anyway) of all B1G teams. While they don't have a decades-long history of matchups with other B1G football programs, I don't think they would change much if they did. They would still be a great example of how a fanbase is supposed to support its football program and welcome visiting fans.
Below are examples of how they do things:
- Checking in to the hotel (Fairfield Inn – not fancy), the hotel manager offered to give us his number in case we got lost while exploring downtown Lincoln. (Come On Man, I Have A Smartphone)
- Friday night, while at dinner, several groups of people stopped at our table, welcoming us to Lincoln and wishing us luck the next day for the game.
- After dinner, at a campus bar, students went out of their way to welcome us to Lincoln and say "Good luck tomorrow" with a smile. (This is when I start thinking Where Am I?)
- On the walk back to the hotel Friday night, a group of ladies stopped us on the sidewalk and said greeting visiting fans is always a highlight for them and it is "like seeing a celebrity". (Now thinking: Is This Just A Well-Executed Prank?)
- Saturday before the game, we walked all around the stadium and nearby tailgates for about 7 hours. This part deserves sub-bullets:
o About 75% of tailgate parties we walked by asked us to stop and chat with them. 50% offered us food or beverage.
o One tailgate we decided to stop at was run by Tommie Frazier. Yes that Tommie Frazier. His name is on the stadium. Not knowing who he was (all he said was "I used to play here"), we talked to him for about 15 minutes, discussing the ongoing stadium renovations, where various campus/athletic buildings were located, where the best tailgates are, etc. The only reason I know that he wasn't just another guy with a tailgate is because as we were saying goodbye, the Nebraska gymnastics coach walked up and said Tommie's name aloud.
o Another tailgate lot we walked through had all the party buses and RVs in it. A converted school bus stood out as a great piece of fandom and as we were walking by, the door flung open and we were invited inside to drink beer and watch the early games. We sat there for about an hour, totally spontaneously, and shared stories about how both teams think they would have demolished the other if they had played against each other in 1997.
o The last tailgate lot we walked through ended up being about a 3 hour stop. Our plans to go to a bar for pregame dinner were abandoned. One guy demanded we have a blue jello shot with him from the batch that he made in honor of Michigan. A few parking spots away we did several shot-skis. We accepted invitations to eat food from several different grills and slowcookers. All the discussions taking place in these three hours were about football and beer. No taunting or yelling or animosity or complaining of any kind. I never heard a negative remark about either team or their corresponding players. I was in a sea of red and I wanted more. (Is This Real Life?)
- During the game, a Nebraska fan sitting opposite the aisle from us bought us a Runza (a baked pastry filled with meat) from the vendor walking the aisles (yes they have those). He didn't speak a word to us the whole game except when he said "Welcome to Lincoln, this [Runza] is for you" while indicating it was a local delicacy of sorts. It was delicious. (I Didn't Know I Wanted That, But He Did)
- After the game, our section was among the last to file out due to the gate location, and the Nebraska fans walking down the steps with us were interested to know if we enjoyed our time in their city despite the ugly game. We said yes, and they wished us safe travels home.
It got to the point where the sincerity and hospitality were equal parts overwhelming and humbling. I highly recommend you visit this place. I'm still wondering if everybody that visits has such a great experience or if I was just lucky. Either way, this is how Football Saturday should be. I'll likely cheer for Nebraska whenever doing so doesn't conflict with cheering interests that are advantageous for Michigan.
out of the Twilight zone.
I'm glad to have Neb in the conference, and now I'm really looking forward to making a journey out there myself. I'd always heard they had the nicest fans in sports, it is cool to hear that is true from you.
While I doubt I will every have the opportunity to enjoy a game there, it sure sounds like it is worth a trip if it's possible.
We attended the Nebraska at Northwestern game a few weeks ago. The fans were great, we were invited to someone's house in Lincoln for a meal the night before the Michigan game even though we had only just met the people in the stands at the game! Took a rain check, but will be sure to take them up on it in 2 years!
Classy and the way it should be at college football games. Maybe our students could take a lesson and stop chanting "you suck" on 4th down. Probably not.
Ironically, there were about ~30-40 Michigan students in my section staying enthusiastic the whole time and doing all the chants as if it were Michigan Stadium... and after Bellomy's third INT one of the Nebraska fans said "Aren't you guys happy we don't have a You Suck chant?"
The students would drop the you suck chants, or at least save them for MSU and Ohio games exclusively, as they don't deserve a classy reception.
Nicest people you will ever meet are in Lincoln, Nebraska. We were greeted and chatted up everywhere we went, even by students. Great BBQ with Eddie at the grill and Huge show host chilling out with us...great trip.
There is a lot more water under the dam there, but they remain very civil in my own experience. It was most kind of Nebraska to lose to "us" last year and less kind to have taken advantage of "our" injuries this year. It will be interesting to track how friendly things remain between us after some more critical wins and losses, and some future unavoidable controversies.
The ND game I went to was the Sam McGuffie rain storm RichRod loss of 2008. The rain cut my postgame experience short, but pregame the ND fans were mostly friendly with a few people yelling BOO as you walk by. The thing that ND doesn't have is a city like Lincoln or Ann Arbor next to the campus with all kinds of food/drink/entertainment available.
I'm impressed with how respectful they are of Oklahoma, even after years of rilvary and critical wins and losses, and some unavoidable controversies. They even root for them in the B12.
I gotta be honest, if OSU moved to a different conference, I'd root for them to lose every game.
I need to go see if I still have one in my freezer. Yes, I freeze fast food and haul it with me 800 miles. Don't judge me, I'm a product of my upbringing.
Great writeup, and I'm glad you had a good time - tailgating with Frazier must have been a real trip! Now let me tell you about the time Johnny Rodgers sold me an enchilada. (True story!)
I have heard, throughout the years, how it goes at the Michigan v. Ohio St. games, and that it gets pretty nasty? Well, I have to say, I wasn't sure what to expect on my way to the Stadium, with the Husker/Michigan fans. We loved it! I didn't get a chance to talk with any Michigan fans on the walk to the Stadium, but, when inside, and sitting in the North Stands, we had some Michigan fans there. Oh my gawd, we were laughing our butts off!! They were singing with us, chatting, having a great time!! When the game was over, for which the Michigan fans stayed the whole game, they were wished good luck their remaining games. We all really enjoyed them, and, we even got the cow bell a few times, and, we requested it! :) I have NO idea what Ohio St. is talking about? I will say, I heard once, from a Husker guy, who was drinking, keep this in mind, that, he had to break up a Husker fan and a Michigan fan from a bad fight. I believe alcohol and being young were more the factor in that.
Really enjoyed this first experiece of a Neb. v. Michigan game, and look forward to many more!!!!
Good Luck the rest of the way, Michigan!
I think I will keep my account on here, if you dont mind a Husker fan around. :)
(I do have a football board also, which we have a few Michigan fans there, and several other schools) :)
My grandfather bought season tickets at Memorial Stadium when it was built in 1923. In fact, the first game at Memorial Stadium was when the Huskers defeated the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame when they were sophomores and Nebraska won the next year as well. So we have a bit of history as well as the Blue.
Congratulations on your 900th win. We'll be there soon, I hope.
I so appreciate your post about the Husker fans. It is a tradition about which we are as proud as the history of our team. You aren't the first to write such a blog/story, nor will you be the last. I'm attaching an article about an open letter Bobby Bowden wrote to the Nebraska fans, when FSU beat us in Lincoln in 1980, which essentially started the elevation of FSU to an elite program:
Also the following article was taken from an Oklahoma blog:
I had hoped to take my law partner, a U of MI law grad to the game this year to see the game in Lincoln but, alas, he was out of town that week. We have an agreement where he will host me in Ann Arbor and I will do the same in Lincoln. I've been to the Rose and Orange Bowls but am really excited to experience the Big House. I hope to be treated as well as he most certainly will.
This blog was passed on the the MN for NE group and we most certainly appreciate it.