The Huddle: From within the depths of its parameters, Memorial Stadium swells with the tumultuous thunder of “Go Big Red,” which comes from its outermost perimeters. Yes, the Nebraska Cornhusker football team is in the arena and ready to entertain another sea of red-clad fans.
The “History of Nebraska Football” says the original Memorial Stadium, built in 1923, would seat some 31,000 fans. Today, though, Memorial Stadium is an institution, with an aura of elegance and arrogance, which rises into Big Red atmosphere and seats over 87,000 passionate fans.
How times have changed.
The Lean Years: In the beginning, Memorial Stadium absorbed years of loneliness as Nebraska was not a football powerhouse. It began in October 1923 when the stadium’s dedication game, with Kansas, ended in a scoreless tie.
Occasionally, in the years that followed, Nebraska had winning seasons and won some conference championships. Nevertheless, though, the Cornhuskers didn’t play a post-season bowl game until January 1, 1941, which it lost to Stanford. From then until 1950, they never presented Memorial Stadium with another winning season.
However, during that time of futility, Memorial Stadium witnessed the greatest upset in the history of Nebraska football. On Halloween, in 1959, a ghostly aberration appeared in the form of a 25-21 Homecoming victory against Oklahoma. The victory ended Oklahoma’s record of 74 straight conference games without a defeat.
I was 14 when my dad and I listened to that game. I remember us yelling and clapping as the game ended. (We listened on radio because we didn’t yet have a television set.)
The Years of Plenty: At the other end of the continuum, Memorial Stadium has had the pleasure, and honor, of housing winning football teams, while also experiencing growing pains.
It began in 1962 with the Bob Devaney years. In his 10 years as Nebraska’s head coach, Devaney posted a record of 136-30-7 and won two national championships.
When Devaney retired, his assistant, Tom Osborne, became head coach, and Memorial Stadium’s road to fame continued. Osborne was Nebraska’s head coach for 25 years and compiled a 255-49-3 record, along with three national championships.
Osborne retired in 1997 and since, except for one blip, Nebraska continued to win.
Memorial Stadium: Just in time for the 2013-14 season, building crews completed the latest expansion at Memorial Stadium.
At home games, Nebraska fans traditionally release red balloons into the sky when the Husker’s score their first points. Memorial Stadium anticipates watching even more balloons ascend into the sky above its perimeters, whose parameters are the home of the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Addendum: I am a life-long Cornhusker fan and lived in Lincoln many years. To watch games, I’ve used my student ticket and, as a middle age fan, checked student id’s in return for a game pass. I have many Cornhusker memories that will forever be mine. Thank you Memorial Stadium.
Mike Babcock: History of Nebraska Football: www.huskers.com
Bio: Bob Devaney: www.huskers.com