Cornhusker Classics: 1962, The Start of It All

Can you imagine if they still did "Band Day" like they did when this photo of Memorial Stadium was taken in the 60's?

Can you imagine if they still did "Band Day" like they did when this photo of Memorial Stadium was taken in the 60's?

Some of the most enjoyable parts of my job is going through the archives to celebrate both the history of Husker football and of KLIN’s.  One of these prizes possession is the season highlight album of 1962 narrated by my predecessor, Bob Zenner.

This weekend, in honor of the 300th straight sellout of Memorial Stadium, KLIN is going to air that album for probably the first time ever.  It contains Zenner’s actual game highlights from his broadcasts on KLIN as well as interviews with Coach Bob Devaney.  We’re also presenting it commercial free thanks to our friends at U.S. Bank.  It will air this Saturday at noon, just before our 1pm pregame show from the Husker Sports Network (it probably took Mr. Zenner two or three seasons of games to get to five hours of pregame back in the 60’s.)  It will be rebroadcast at 6:00pm Sunday and will be on the podcast at KLIN.com.

Here’s some tidbits about the 1962 Huskers.

–Players were not allowed to substitute but for once each quarter.  So usually, coaches would have the same 11 players on the field in the 1st quarter, then a new platoon for the second.  Once you were substituted for, you could not return until the following quarter.

–At 6’3″, 210 lbs, QB Dennis Claridge was big enough to start on the line blocking for him.  For example, tackle Monte Kiffin (yes, thatMonte Kiffin) was listed at 6’2″, 225.  Most of the guards like LaVane Johnson of Eagle (5″10″, 205) and Jed Rood of Columbus, OH (6′, 210) were smaller than Claridge.  The largest Husker in 1962 was Hall of Famer Bob Brownat 6’5″, 251 lbs – that would put him 20 lbs heavier but one inch shorter than Nebraska’s present day linebacker Sean Fisher (6’6″, 230.)

–In addition to Kiffin, another alum of the 1962 Huskers was future Missouri coach (and Nebraska nemesis) Warren Powers, who would go on to play in Super Bowl II with the Oakland Raiders.

–According to Huskerpedia.com, there are Huskers who hail from Eagle, Alma, David City and Crete.  The college towns of Columbus, OH, South Bend, IN and Wichita, KS are represented.  There are also three (four if you count non-listed freshman Frank Solich) who come from Cleveland, OH.  But you won’t find one representative of the city of Lincoln on the 1962 varsity roster.  (Jack would tell you that it’s because Lincoln East hadn’t opened yet).

The Cuban Missile Crisis, which took place in October of ’62, was at its peak between October 14th and October 28th.  On the schedule, that meant during the weeks of the Kansas State and Colorado games.  Based on the combined 5-58-1 record the Wildcats and Buffaloes would have against Nebraska from that time until the collapse of the Berlin Wall, I think KSU and CU would have preferred the Soviets ignore the blockade.

The 1962 Gotham Bowl, Nebraska’s first bowl victory, was the only college bowl game ever played on the hallowed grounds of the original Yankee Stadium.  The first Gotham Bowl in 1961 was played at the Polo Grounds.

–Missouri, the team that beat Nebraska to start the 300 game sellout streak, featured a senior by the name of Jim Johnson.  Johnson, who died earlier this year, gained fame as the long-time defensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles.

–North Carolina State’s Joe Scarpati had a long kick return for a score against Nebraska in Memorial Stadium.  Scarpati’s most famous moment in football was probably as the holder on Tom Dempsey’s NFL record 63 yard field goal in 1970.

–The late Bob Zenner was both KLIN Radio and KOLN TV sportscaster from the late 1950’s to his death in the late 1960’s.  His call of Nebraska’s famous 1959 upset of Oklahoma is the only surviving broadcast known (we may pull that one out too later this year on the 50th anniversary.)  He also pioneered the live telecast of the Nebraska State High School Basketball tournaments which started in 1958 on Channel 10, something I am proud to help continue today.

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4 Responses to Cornhusker Classics: 1962, The Start of It All

  1. Ken Softley says:

    I’ll look forward to hearing Bob Zenner’s pbp of that ’59 OU game. While I was on leave from KLIN during my service hitch, KLIN hired Bob as Sports Director. When I got back, I got the overnight gig, and it was the ’60 season before I got to be Bob’s gofer and help lug the gear up the ladder to the top deck, where the 4th station had a booth. KFAB, WOW, and KFOR got the better spots.

    TV publicity for the 300th game uniforms features #32, but you did not mention Kent McCloughan, who wore that number. Another great 2-way player, who made his mark as a DB with the Oakland Raiders.

    And,yes, I remember Band Day, as depicted in the photo above. I was in Jack Snider’s Kearney High band in ’49. My souvenir photo is b/w. And those early sellouts helped put an end to Band Day, although Jack spent many a Saturday afternoon with the Big Red.

    Ken Softley
    Topeka, KS

  2. Gene Finke says:

    So wasn’t that 1962 Missouri game on TV? It sure seems like I watched on TV [I was 14 at the time]. I believe the Michigan and Oklahoma games were also on TV that year. I appreciate the information about the substitution rules, but I would like verification as that is not the way I remember it. It seems like Nebraska was running in 3 or 4 players every play. But never a whole team because you could only put in or 4 at a time even to punt or when you changed to defense. I never listend to Bob Zenner, in those days I always listended to Dick Perry on KFOR. He was great with a great voice. It was about 1966 when friends got me hooked on Lyle and I stayed with KFAB after that even when the games were on TV

  3. Bob Mastin says:

    I remember listening to Bob Zenner doing pbp when I was a kid. I grew up in Hastings, but i recognize the picture of band day it was on an l-p featuring highlites from Zenner’s pbp. I had the 63 and 64 seasons on l-ps, they were great. I spent many hours listening to them but of course they were lost when i went to college in the 70’s.

  4. Larry Tomlinson # 83 says:

    First off I am one of the 62 – 63 player alums from O’Neill St. Mary’s (1958 8 man state champs). That and $1.50 will get you a cup of coffee at some places.
    I was one of those small linemen 6′ 1″ 205#. I did get my weight up to 210 my last season.
    I have that same 78 record of Bob Zenner’s highlights. My mom bought it for me a few years after I graduated. I have not listen to it for a few years because I did not get to keep my old record player (my wife had the final say).
    The first tidbit is true about the substution is true. During the Jennings area he did (or would) not sub the starting team the first quarter. Somethimes they would even play into the second quarter. They would also end up playing the last quarter and half.
    This and scramaging Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays the players were wore out by the end of the third quarter.
    Devaney changed all that. The starting team played the FIRST HALF of the first quarter and the second team finished the quarter and so on. We were alowed to change two players each series, usually the center and QB. The two players that came in were usually linebackers.
    Claridge did play safty a few times.
    We did not scramage after Wednesdays and practice did not last beond the hour and half, so the players were not tired for the fourth quarter.
    We did have Sunday morning, one hour, loosening up sessions. That did keep the Saturday night party’s to a minimum
    I also participated in Band Day, my junior year, as well. That was the first time that I heard about NU football in north central Nebr. Even then I did not remember much about the game.
    Now that you stirred my interest I will have that album put on a CD.

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