Editor's note: This column originally appeared in the Sept. 24, 2015, edition of The Daily Nebraskan.
To be honest, I have never understood why Coloradans hate Nebraska so much. It seems as though I can’t go anywhere in a Nebraska shirt without getting the typical “Did you know the N stands for Nowledge?”
I suppose this comes from the hatred developed during our rivalry years. Bill McCartney, coach of the Buffaloes, picked that rivalry because he knew playing such a quality opponent would make Colorado relevant, and it worked for a while. Now, however, we aren’t even in the same conference, and we won’t renew our rivalry until 2018. Despite this, the animosity for Nebraska is evident and strong in Colorado. Oh, and by the way, if any Nebraska fan feels down about our recent losses, just consider how bad the University of Colorado-Boulder has been the past four years since they joined the Pac 12: A combined record of 10-39 and no bowl games. At least we’re not them.
I feel it necessary to explain this because I come from outside of this gigantic and amazing fan base in Nebraska. My only perspective on Husker nation was hearing stories from my mom and grandma about how my grandpa loved Husker football and how his birthday cakes would be Husker themed. Beyond that, I had no idea of just how passionate Nebraskans were, not just for their football, but also for their school. Since then, however, I have found that there really is no place like Nebraska.
My first Husker football game was the moment that I came to appreciate just how special Nebraska truly is. I remember walking down Vine Street and stopping and staring in complete awe as I saw this huge mass of red fans ahead of me. This was three hours before kickoff. I know my reaction might sound like hyperbole, but I had never seen so much excitement and passion for a football team before. Yes, we Coloradans love our Broncos, but it’s different here in Nebraska.
Everything that day was amazing from the Go Big Red chants every five minutes to the Husker Power back and forth. I was flabbergasted when I saw the consecutive sellout streak and got goosebumps when I heard the bass drop for the tunnel walk. And yes, I could definitely feel it. I guess it’s just one of those events you have to experience to know how fun it is. For me, the experience couldn’t have been better.
From that point on, I felt as though I had become a part of the famed Husker nation that I had only heard about in Colorado. I’ve attended many of the different athletic events here at UNL and have discovered Husker games are simply fun. The fans create an electric atmosphere; the players are easy to root for, and the arenas are all state of the art. There are few things I would rather do on a Saturday night than spend it at a Husker game with the best fans in all of college sports. Not just football, sports.
Beyond athletics, however, there are plenty of other reasons I love attending UNL. Perhaps the greatest of these is the atmosphere of Nebraska, specifically, Lincoln. The community is among the friendliest I have ever met. People I have never met treat me like a neighbor and almost always greet me with a smile. Even when I am in Colorado, I will get an occasional Go Big Red and smile from a Nebraska fan joining me in enemy territory. I see an example of “Nebraska Nice” after every volleyball match and basketball game as a member of the Big Red Express Pep Band, when fans come up to me after the game and tell me I did a wonderful job playing. This community is a huge part of what makes Lincoln and UNL so special.
I’m often asked why I would choose to go to Nebraska over any of the Colorado schools and give up the mountain scenery and high altitude that I love so much. Many of my friends ask me, “What is there to do in Nebraska?”
Well, I don’t want to bash Colorado schools too much, but at UNL, unlike CSU, I can go to a football game where attendance against Minnesota breaks 35,000. And unlike those at CU, I don’t have to deal with the stench of pot wherever I go. One of my friends at CU Boulder told me “there is a common expectation that anywhere you go with a lot of people, there will be pot,” including football games. That might appeal to some people, but I will stick to the family friendly atmospheres of Husker games.
Listen, I love Colorado, and it will always be my first home. I respect its universities even if it doesn’t respect ours. Yet, I do not at all regret coming to Nebraska, and I have loved and appreciated every minute I have been a Husker. Nebraska has become a second home for me, and I flaunt it every time I go back to Colorado. Being a Husker isn’t something that comes from attending a football game every now and then; it’s a lifestyle that comes from being the best fans in the nation. So I say as a native Coloradan but true Husker: Go. Big. Red.