Real-Life Herbie UPDATE

September 30, 2009

HerbieI posted this in the thread with the picture below, but here’s the update on my search for the “Real-Life Herbie Husker”:

UPDATE 9/30:  Thanks to all of our readers and listeners, I’ve located the “Real Life” Herbie, spoken with him and he’ll join us on the show sometime in the coming days (I’ll let you know when the date is confirmed.)  His name is Kent Titze, he lives in Arizona, but apparently is originally from Nebraska and he appears in the movie “Yes Man” near Jim Carrey in the Nebraska football scene.  Thanks again for all the help on this, and we can’t wait to hear from Kent/Herbie directly on the show!

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Downtown Master Plan vs. New Development

September 29, 2009

Yesterday, the Lincoln City Council decided to put the discussion of granting tax increment financing to a $45M hotel/retail development proposal on hold.   As you may have heard, there’s a conflict between the developer’s building design and the downtown master plan, which calls for a promenade, or pedestrian-friendly loop that goes right through the area of the proposed structure.

My initial reaction to this was a sense that there should be a fairly easy way that the two parties can come to a compromise that allows for the developer to materially maintain the original building plans while still providing an attractive pedestrian area around it and maintaining the spirit of the Master Plan.  Frankly, it would seem to me that developing such an intersection with this kind of project would be more in line with the plan’s “big picture” than leaving the existing parking lot, particularly when downtown development could sorely use a potential catalyst like the current proposal.  Perhaps this could be just the project to jump start a move toward the plan.  What good is a promenade down M Street & 11th Street if there aren’t any destinations for pedestrians in that immediate area?

While I applaud the idea of a downtown master plan and like what I’ve seen of it, if we want to move toward that reality, it would seem that occasionally, compromise on the details of the plan are necessary and advisable if such compromise advances a realization of the plan’s overall ideal, and I think that’s exactly the case here.

Here’s to hoping that in the time the city council has allotted the city and the developer there can be a mutually agreeable solution that both brings this development to fruition and moves us closer to the overarching goals of the Master Plan.

For those of you who are visual, and would like a better idea of this concept of a promenade loop and the area in question, here are all the details from the downtown master plan itself, including pictures and artist’s renderings of the area.  I do find it interesting that it would appear that only the east edge of this development would come into contact with the proposed promenade, which appears to be a loop bounded by R Street, Centennial Mall, M Street and 11th Street, while the proposed development would sit directly West of 11th Street, bounded by M and N.  Also, if you want an overhead look at the area to get your bearings, below is a google maps page bird’s eye view of the area–you can manually zoom to the 11th & M intersection to get the best look.

Comment away with your thoughts.


The Real-Life Herbie Husker?

September 28, 2009
The Real Life Herbie Husker?

The Real Life Herbie Husker? (click for larger version)

UPDATE 9/30:  Thanks to all of our readers and listeners, I’ve located the “Real Life” Herbie, spoken with him and he’ll join us on the show sometime in the coming days (I’ll let you know when the date is confirmed.)  His name is Kent Titze, he lives in Arizona, but apparently is originally from Nebraska and he appears in the movie “Yes Man” near Jim Carey in the Nebraska football scene.  Thanks again for all the help on this, and we can’t wait to hear from Kent/Herbie directly on the show!

So I’m watching the PPV of the NU/ULL game with my family on Friday night, and with about four minutes left in the first quarter, Roy Helu tore off a 39-yard run.  After the run, the cameras panned the celebratory crowd and everyone in the room took note of the gentleman above (hat tip to the folks at HuskerVision for the picture).

Herbie2

See the resemblance?

Immediately, we all had the exact same reaction:  this dude looks, exactly, EXACTLY like the circa 1980s cartoon blonde Herbie Husker who’s now been replaced with the trimmer, less hick-ish brunette Herbie.  Seriously, it’s like the cartoon was modeled after this guy, his face is shaped exactly the same, the hair is exactly right, the smile is spot-on.  Maybe he could stand to gain about 30 pounds, and it’d be perfect.

I was always more of a fan of the ’80s blonde Herbie than anything they’ve done since, and I think the overall-clad cartoon giving the “OK” sign (see right) with the corn in his back pocket should still be the signature logo for the Athletic Department.

That said, I’ve always kind of liked teams that have actual people without masks as their mascots (like the Notre Dame leprechaun or the West Virginia Mountaineer), and here it’s pretty clear that Herbie already has an uphill battle with the kids given the popularity of Lil’ Red.  So, I’m starting a grassroots movement to get this guy on the field as the new Herbie Husker.  I don’t remember ever seeing an actual person look like a cartoon character quite like this, so I think it’d be a wasted opportunity if we didn’t put the real-life Herbie’s resemblance to cartoon Herbie to use in some fashion.   

If anyone knows this guy or has any more background on him, email us at JackandJohn@klin.com, I’d love to talk to him on the show. 

Let the search for real-life Herbie commence.

 

The Single-Game T-Shirt Phenomenon

September 28, 2009

I’ve never been a fan of the “single game” T-shirt.  This is the shirt that comes out in the weeks before a big game, either celebrating the matchup in general or talking trash about the opponent.  Who wants a shirt for which there’s a decent chance you would actually be embarassed to wear after the fact if your team lost, and no matter what, will look outdated? Now, Nebraska has had plenty of these in their history (need I remind you about Notre Dame coming to town in 2001 and all of the apparel connected to that matchup?) but it seems like almost every single time that Nebraska rolls into places like Ames or Columbia, there’s some new catchy slogan about that year’s game that they throw on a t-shirt.  This year’s offering?  Enjoy.


Memorial Stadium’s Best and Worst

September 25, 2009

John and I have had several conversations off-air this week about top-10 moments in Memorial Stadium, so I thought it might be interesting to get a conversation started by ranking the best (and worst) moments in the stadium, for games which I personally attended.  I should mention, as a disclaimer, that the first game I ever attended was in 1986 when Oregon came to town, so everything before then has been disqualified.  I should also point out that I was never a season ticket holder, so my attendance hasn’t been perfect, but I’ve made my way into the stadium for 80+ games in the ensuing years, whether it be with tickets, as a Val’s and Runza hawker, or with a press pass.

With that, let’s first get to the most painful moments I witnessed in Memorial Stadium:

10.  The ten spot goes to a few games I didn’t see in person, but have to be mentioned when it comes to painful experiences in Memorial Stadium post 1985:  Texas 2006 (The Terrance Nunn fumble), Texas 1998 (The Ricky Williams Halloween Show) , 1990 Colorado (Eric Bienemy explodes late), and 1987 Oklahoma (Game of the Century Part II).

9.  2002–Colorado 28, Nebraska 13: I didn’t know it at the time, but this game really signaled a huge change in the program.  CU came in #13 in the nation and Nebraska had just been dismantled by Ell Roberson in Manhattan, but there was still sense there was no way Nebraska would lose on i’s home field twice in a row for the first time in ages.  Nonetheless, Brian Calhoun had a huge rushing day and Nebraska’s defense tired, and it paved the way for an unthinkable 7-7 season.

8.  2008–Missouri 52, Nebraska 17:  This was supposed to have been the changing of the guard in the Big XII North, and the stadium was electric before kickoff, but the game’s beginning took the air out of the crowd more quickly than any other time I’ve seen (except perhaps #6 below). 

7.  2004–Colorado 26, Nebraska 20:  Joe Dailey threw four picks and Nebraska’s season was over in November for the first time during my lifetime.  It was even more devastating as Nebraska put together what looked like might be a miracle comeback with two touchdowns within the last four minutes of the game by Steve Kriewald and Ross Pilkington, respectively, but the onsides kick was scooped up by CU, and everyone went home in silence.

6.  2007–USC 49, Nebraska 31:  USC took the air out of Nebraska immediately with a huge passing play to FB Stanley Havili, who scored moments later, and it seemed as if the excitement for this game that had been building for a year was sucked out of the stadium, despite a lead that didn’t really grow to an insurmountable amount until USC put up two touchdowns at the very outset of the third quarter. 

5.  2007–Oklahoma St. 45, Nebraska 14:  This is almost unanimously pointed to as the low point in Nebraska football recent history.  I’ll never forget seeing the fans stream into the exits of the stadium in the first quarter with four minutes left as Zac Robinson put Oklahoma State up 21-0.  This was just painful, but in a different way than most of the other losses on this list.

4.  2005–Texas Tech 35, Nebraska 31:  Poor LaKevin Smith.  He picked off a Cody Hodges pass with under a minute in the fourth quarter that seemed to have iced the game for the Huskers, but instead of falling on it, he tried to return it, and fumbled the ball back to the Red Raiders.  Moments later, Joel Filani caught a Hodges pass with :13 left on the clock to pull the victory from the claws of defeat for Texas Tech.  In all the games I had been to at Memorial Stadium I had never felt that sick about a single play when I left.

3.  1991–Washington 36, Nebraska 21:  With 5 minutes left in the third quarter of this game, Derek Brown scored on a short touchdown run that put Nebraska up 21-9, and it looked like the Huskers were going to roll at home against yet another non-conference opponent.  But the eventual national champion Huskies had other ideas.  Remember Beno Bryant?  That guy exploded all over Charlie McBride’s defense for the rest of the game as Washington ripped off 27 straight points while Keithen McCant couldn’t seem to get the ball in his receivers hands. 

2.  2002–Texas 27, Nebraska 24:  This was the game that started the theory that Nebraska is under some sort of a curse in close games.  Before this game, most Husker fans probably have to strain a little to think of games that had gut-wrenchingly fluky endings that went in the opponents’ favor.  Since this game, there have been 4 or 5.  This game also solidified my opinion that Mack Brown isn’t the brightest bulb around when he punted to DeJuan Groce, who was the hottest punt returner in America, in the final minute of a three point game.  Groce nearly took it the distance, but was stopped just short, seemingly guaranteeing overtime with a chip shot field goal.  Then, Jammal Lord threw an ill-fated pass intended for Mark LeFlore.  The rest, unfortunately, is history, including Texas trying to plant a ‘horns flag on the N in the middle of the FieldTurf after the game.

1.  1986–Oklahoma 20, Nebraska 17:  As a nine year old with my Dad, going to my second Husker game ever, I had been looking forward to this game since the schedule was released.  Between Brian Bosworth coming to town, the “Our House” slogan and the hatred between these two programs at the time (and yes, it was hatred, not respect), this game felt bigger than life.  That mood was anything but dampened when I got to the stadium to see the Huskers decked out in all red uniforms.  Of course, the game started out pretty well, and then Keith Jackson showed up and helped bring Oklahoma back from a 17-7 deficit in the last 11 minutes of the game.  As I walked with my dad back to our parking spot near the Reunion on campus, I spent most of the time trying to keep from crying.  When I see pictures of this game, it still makes my stomach turn. 

 

OK, so that’s over with.  Now to my favorite moments witnessed in person at Memorial Stadium:

10.  1986–Nebraska 48, Oregon 14:  This is an honorary #10 because it was my first game ever at the Stadium.  Honestly, I don’t remember many of the details other than it was a sunny late September afternoon and my Dad and I sat in the North Stadium, and watched Todd Millikan and Keith Jones put on a show that day. 

9.  1995–Nebraska 49, Kansas State 25:  This wasn’t a particularly close game, none of them were in 1995, but for some reason, I recall having more fun watching this game than almost any I remember.  Perhaps it was because Kansas State, coming in ranked 16th in the nation was just starting to get some of that annoying nature we’ve now come to know them by today, maybe it was that in the first quarter Mike Rucker made the best block I’ve ever seen on a punt return for a touchdown by Mike Fullman, or perhaps it was watching Matt Kavanaugh run for his life the entire day.  Either way, I remember it being one of the warmest late October games I’ve ever attended, and I went home as satisfied with the performance as I’ve ever been. 

8.  1987–Nebraska 42, UCLA 33:  I think people forget how big this game was.  UCLA came into Lincoln rated #3 to face the #2 Huskers with future NFLers Troy Aikman, Gaston Green, and Willie “Flipper” Anderson leading their offense.  This game featured something I had dreamed about but never thought I’d see–Nebraska throwing the ball all over the field.  The Huskers passed for 217 yards while only rushing for 117.  Steve Taylor set a Nebraska record and tied a conference record with five touchdown passes.

7.  2001–Nebraska 27, Notre Dame 10:  At the time, this was the hardest Husker ticket to get in years.  I remember several reports of tickets going for four-digit prices.  And while this game wasn’t particularly exciting after the first quarter, when Eric Crouch led Nebraska to a 17-0 lead before anyone even got settled in their seats, there was still something completely euphoric about laying it to Notre Dame in Lincoln in any fashion, as so many Husker fans had fantasized about this scenario their entire lives.  Yeah, I know that sounds weird, but it’s true.   

 6.  2008 –Nebraska 38, Colorado 31:  Yeah, I know, this happened just last year, but after 2001 Oklahoma, there really hadn’t been a game in Memorial Stadium for several years where you had a game that mattered, was against a conference rival, and that went down to the wire in Nebraska’s favor.  It had been so long that something went right, that as I watched Alex Henery’s 57 yard field goal sail through the uprights and later Ndamukong Suh’s interception return to seal the game, I almost had to pinch myself.  Outside of the Stuntz/Crouch pass, I’m not sure you can find any better signature highlight for the decade of the 2000s in Husker football than those two plays at the end of this game.

5.  1991–Nebraska 19, Oklahoma 14:  I could argue that this was the most satisfying win I can remember as a Husker fan.  The losses to Oklahoma in 86, 87 and ’90 were still fresh in our minds, and although #11 Nebraska went into the game as the favorite against the #19 Sooners, it seemed that we all braced for the inevitable Sooner Magic that seemed to work flawlessly in Memorial Stadium.  If you were at this game you remember that it was one of the coldest, rainiest, sleetiest, crummiest weather games ever.  When was the last time a Nebraska tight end had a game like Johnny Mitchell in this game?  He had 7 catches for 137 yards including what is still one of the most amazing catches between two defenders I’ve ever seen.  For good measure, the Huskers also ran a TE reverse to Mitchell that looked suspiciously like the one Oklahoma had used previously with Keith Jackson.  Calvin Jones scored to put the Huskers ahead, and a defense featuring a young Ed Stewart and Trev Alberts stopped Cale Gundy on Oklahoma’s last gasp to come back, giving Nebraska a share of the Big 8 title. 

4.  1994–Nebraska 24, Colorado 7:  It’s hard to think of a better setup than there was for this game, #3 Nebraska hosts #2 Colorado at the 200th sellout in Memorial Stadium history.  It’s also hard to think of a better result.  The Nebraska defense and what some say is the loudest crowd in the stadium’s history stifled Kordell Stewart, holding him to 13-30 passing for 159 yards and sacking him four times.  When you look at the offensive stats for Nebraska in this game, no one had a particularly dominant day, but the defense continued to set up the offense with good field position, and the game was virtually out of reach for Colorado early in the third quarter. 

3.  1992–Nebraska 52, Colorado 7:  Sure, the score indicates that this game wasn’t close, but I don’t know that Memorial Stadium will ever be as electric as it was prior to kickoff at this game.  The Buffs came in tied with Nebraska at #8 in the UPI poll, this was an evening kickoff on Halloween, it was rainy and cold, and suffice it to say the fans were prepared.  I know that lately, Memorial Stadium isn’t considered an “intimidating” place to play when compared with places like the Swamp in Florida and Death Valley at LSU, but this was as unfriendly to an opponent as this venue has ever been.  If you ever watch the ESPN broadcast of this game, you’ll notice that you can’t even hear the announcers do their pregame analysis because of the unbelievably loud “Go Big Red” chants as the crowd anticipated kickoff.  On the first play from scrimmage, Koy Detmer threw an interception to Travis Hill on the first play from scrimmage sending the stadium into an absolute frenzy.  A few plays later Calvin Jones got the scoring going, and it didn’t stop all night.

2.  1993–Nebraska 21, Oklahoma 7:  This WAS the coldest game I’ve ever been to.  That changed after the 2006 Big XII Championship game in Kansas City.  In any case, this was Nebraska’s last hurdle to a shot at the National Championship against Florida State, and while the game started off rather poorly for the Huskers with Oklahoma driving right down the field and Butkus winner, All-American and team Capitan Trev Alberts sustaining a fairly serious elbow injury, it got better as the day went on.  Early in the fourth quarter, with the game tied 7-7, the Nebraska fans witnessed what I think are probably the three most exciting consecutive plays I’ve seen at a game in Lincoln.  First, Tommie Fraizer hit Abdul Mohammad with an 11-yard touchdown strike to give the Huskers the lead.  On the ensuing kickoff, the Oklahoma returner coughed the ball up, and after what seemed like ten minutes of unpiling, the referees signaled that Husker special teams whiz and fan favorite David Seizys ended up with the ball.  On the very next play, Calvin Jones scampered 20 yards and the celebration was on.  I remember just sitting in the balcony in the West Stadium hearing the fans chant “we’re #1,” and realizing that for the first time in my life, it might actually be true after the season.  Turns out, that was just another heartbreak waiting to happen, but we won’t go there. 

1.  2001–Nebraska 20, Oklahoma 10:  While there were other games that were better from beginning to end, and probably wins that were, in the end, more satisfying than this one, the moment when Eric Crouch caught the pass on the reverse from QB turned WR Mike Stuntz is still the single best moment that I’ve ever been a part of in the stadium.  I was a student at the time and sitting with the rest of my classmates just above the band in the East Stadium.  All I remember was that as soon as I saw the referee signal touchdown, all I could see was people hugging/tackling/mosh pitting me, many of whom I didn’t know, until I finally got up to my feet, calmed down a bit, and realized I ended up 8 rows below where I had been sitting when the play began.


Cornhusker Classics: 1962, The Start of It All

September 23, 2009
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.


Friday Night Videos!

September 18, 2009

OK, so it’s 2:00 in the afternoon, but in titling today’s entry, I couldn’t help but honor that show that so many of us who didn’t have access to MTV used to keep up to date on the latest offerings by pop musicians in the 80s and early 90s.

Now, to today’s videos.

1.  Maybe you heard us talking today about how a reporter in the White House press pool sneezed during a press conference held by Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sibelius.  The Secretary playfully chastized NBC’s Chuck Todd for not properly covering his mouth.  After that incident, the video below is getting a lot of hits.  It shows President Obama, well, not quite taking the Secretary’s advice during a past interview.  Does he actually try and wipe his sneeze off the reporter?  Gross!

2.  This is the song we played on the show today.  It’s become a bit of a local viral video hit and features a man named Tom Roth strolling around the NE State Fair while singing a song with fairly scathing, yet funny lyrics about the fair moving out of Lincoln.  Plus, it’s the only song I’m aware of that mentions Roger Yant by name.

3.   How about a little psych-up fodder for tomorrow’s NU/VT matchup by taking a look back at one particuar play from last year, thanks to some Hokie fan who posted it on YouTube.  Does it seem like a good call a year later?