Mascots are an important part of college athletics because they represent the team, energize the crowd and are the biggest cheerleaders without saying a word.
Nebraska’s mascot, Herbie Husker, is a staple of Husker gamedays. He’s the epitome of Husker spirit, loyalty and good sportsmanship.
This year marks Herbie’s 45th year of existence, but how did Herbie become the mascot that is known and loved today?
The first mascot Nebraska had was Corncob Man who debuted in 1955. Corncob Man wore green overalls and had a half ear of corn that served as a headpiece.
In the early 1960s, the mascot got a new look. The Corncob Man became Huskie the Husker. The new mascot was a 10-foot-tall costumed person. The costume consisted of a plaid shirt, denim overalls, and a straw bucket worn as a hat.
Then, a new mascot was introduced in 1970. It was named Harry Husker, but most people called him Mr. Big Red. The design of Mr. Big Red was problematic because the costume’s headpiece was made of fiberglass and was so large that it couldn’t fit on the team bus. The head is said to have been 5-foot 8-inches and weighed 70 pounds.
In 1974, Herbie Husker first appeared on the cover of a Huskers’ media guide. Texas native, Dirk West, drew the design for Herbie.
There was a 14-year period when both Mr. Big Red and Herbie co-existed. However, in 1988, Mr. Big Red retired and Herbie took over as the head mascot.
Herbie’s first game as Nebraska’s mascot was the last game of Tom Osborne’s first season as head football coach, a victory over Texas in the Cotton Bowl.
As the years went on, it was evident that Nebraska needed a second mascot. Herbie was getting so many requests for mascot appearances at different events and games that another mascot was necessary, especially since some of these events happened at the same time.
Due to the demand for a second mascot, Lil’ Red was born in 1993. Lil’ Red was the first inflatable mascot in college and professional sports. He has the personality of an eight year old boy and is designed to appeal to the younger fans.
Herbie Husker’s biggest makeover came right before the 2003 football season.
Until 2003, Herbie wore denim overalls, a large cowboy hat with an ‘N’ on it and an ear of corn in his pocket. After the changes were made, he now looks like the Herbie from today.
He wears a red cowboy hat, blue shirt, denim jeans and work boots. This update was done to better reflect Nebraska’s agricultural workers.
It’s not just the state of Nebraska that loves Herbie as he won the “National Mascot of the Year” for the 2005 year at halftime of the 2006 Capital One Bowl.
Herbie has been there for many stages of Husker athletics throughout the years and serves as a celebrated representation of Nebraska as he reaches year 45.