Stiles Points features the Nebraska Cornhuskers as its second team in the College Football at its Best Series....writing about the Huskers is 45-year-old Jon Johnston of Corn Nation blog....Jon is known as "Corn Blight" and is a native Nebraskan and University of Nebraska-Lincoln alum ('87)....Jon wrote "I'm at the upper end of demographics in the blogosphere . Age gives me a unique perspective not found in most other sports blogs. I've written in the computer industry for 18 years and have been blogging about the Huskers for three. Corn Nation will turn one year old in August."....make sure you visit Corn Nation
Q1. Oklahoma used to be the Huskers big rivalry. Now that those two schools don't play every year, who is Nebraska's hated rival? What are your feelings about the rivalry?
Colorado is our biggest rival, although I wish it were still Oklahoma. There was a level of mutual respect with Oklahoma that doesn't exist with Colorado. With regards to my feelings about the rivalry - Colorado has the beautiful Rocky mountains which makes it one of the most beautiful states in the US. Nebraska is geographically uninteresting to most people - the I-80 interstate stretch that people drive through Nebraska is on the Platte River Valley, possibly the flattest and most boring stretches of land in the US. Buffalo fans stand on their mountains looking down on Nebraskans as if the people in Boulder were personally responsible for the creation of all that natural beauty. They see us as boring as the land on which we live and we are continually reminded of such.
Yet when it comes to football, Buffalo fans barely support their team even in winning seasons. Even then, their behavior is boorish as was evident in the 2005 game when two full student sections were ejected from the game for continuing to throw stuff onto the field after being asked several times to stop. So, for us and Colorado, it isn't just about a football game. It's about a way of life. We see ourselves as having a high level of pride, a good work ethic, and an honest streak. Colorado fans? Well, they have the Rockies.
Q2. What is the greatest Nebraska football game that you have seen - whether it be in-person or on television? Explain the game and why it was so great.
Ouch. If I were 20, this would be easy, but I'm not. I'm also not one of those people who makes a list of favorite things - it's too restrictive, but I know the Internet loves lists. There are a lot of different reasons for great games - I suppose most people would pick a blow-out like Nebraska over Florida in the '96 Fiesta Bowl, but the close games are the most memorable. The Texas loss in '98 was one of the best game I ever saw in person because Texas had Ricky Williams, who was one of the greatest college backs ever. It'd look like we'd stop him for three yards, and it would be five. And he'd pound, and drive, and then they'd throw over the top. It was a 20-16 loss for the Huskers, ending a 47 home game winning streak, but it was a great game.
The 1982 Nebraska-Oklahoma was another great one in person. Scott Strasburger intercepting a pass with 26 seconds left to seal our 28-24 win. I was on the field for that one when the goal posts came down. Nearly got killed when I fell down underneath them as they were being torn down, but that's a whole huge story in itself.
The '97 Nebraska-Missouri game was incredible - most people remember the 'flea-kicker' play at the end when the ball was kicked up into the air and caught for a touchdown on the last play of regulation. What struck me about that game was the last minute of regulation. Nebraska won that game solely because of the will of quarterback Scott Frost. It's the most gorgeous single minute of Husker football ever. I wasn't there, but a good friend was. He said that when we scored at the end of regulation, a Mizzou fan looked at him and asked "Don't you have some cows to tend to or something?"
Q3. If you had to start an all-time Nebraska football team, who would be your first pick and why?
This one is easy. It's Tommie Frazier (photo). Without hesitation, he is the greatest college quarterback to ever play the game. He finished with a 33-3 record as a four-year starter. He played in three national title games, winning the MVP of two of them. He won back-to-back national titles 1994 and '95 for the Huskers as they beat Miami in the 1995 Orange Bowl 24-17, and then crushed #2-ranked Florida 62-24 in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl. The 75-yard touchdown run he made in the '96 Fiesta Bowl is symbolic of Frazier's career (you can find it on youtube). When you thought you had him stopped, you didn't. He remains the greatest Husker player in school history.
Q4. Since 1970, who are the five greatest players to wear a Nebraska uniform and why?
That's a hard list to compile as there are a lot of great ones in that time frame. I'll go with the following:
Turner Gill - Watching Turner Gill play football was like watching poetry in motion. Whether he was running, throwing or getting hit -, everything he did was with agrace and poise that was magical. Mike Rozier and Irving Fryar were bigger names, but Gill was pure beauty to watch as a player. He spent many years in the Nebraska program and I never, ever heard a bad word said about him.
Dave Rimington - Rimgington (photo) was so good at center they named the award for the best college center for him. He won the Outland Trophy in '81 and '82, and in 1982 also won the Lombardi. All-American in '81, '82 and was named the Big Eight Offensive Player of the Year in 1981 - the only time a lineman was ever given the award.
Tommie Frazier - I've already explained Tommie above.
Johnny Rodgers - Rodgers played on the '70 and '71 Nebraska national title teams - the 1971 team is widely recognized as one of the top teams in college football history. Rodgers won the Heisman Trophy in 1972, and was an All-American in '71 and '72. Rodgers 72-yard punt return in the 1971 Nebraska-Oklahoma Game of the Century is a highlight that every Husker fan knows. Rodgers is known as one of the greatest returners in college football history.
Rich Glover - Glover played on the '70 and '71 national title teams as a defensive lineman. Glover won the Lombardi and Outland in '72, was All-American in '71 and '72. He was the Big Eight defensive player of the year in '72, and in the 'Game of the Century' he made 22 tackles. My favorite story about Glover is that he was playing so well that coach Bob Devaney stormed over to his defense and said "Would one of you SOB's like to give Rich Glover some help?"
Q5. Make your case why Nebraska football, as a whole, is the best football program in the country?
Nebraska's Memorial Stadium has a phrase that fans see when they walk into the stadium - "Through these gates pass the greatest fans in college football". Maybe a cliche, but what is serves as a reminder to Nebraskan fans who they are and sets a high standard of behavior that Huskers fans try to uphold. One tradition is to applaud the opponent, no matter the outcome. I was there in 1982 when Florida State beat us in Lincoln and we gave them a standing ovation.
Success on the field is well-known as Nebraska is one of only four schools to have won 800 games, the other three being Michigan, Texas, and Notre Dame. In terms of an overall program, Nebraska is known for student-athletes' academic success. Nebraska leads the nation in Academic All-Americans (243) over Notre Dame (185), and leads the Big 12 (243) over Texas (96). Nebraska is a leader in student athlete graduation rates. Fan support is better than anywhere in the nation as Nebraska's home sell-out streak started on November 3rd, 1962 and will reach a span of over 45 years this coming season!
There is no place like Nebraska!....
I want to thank Jon for his time - it is much appreciated....Oklahoma will be the next team that will be previewed...