Four times this year, and, well, every year, NU plays an out-of-conference opponent. (And sometimes, NU's conference adds a 12th member for the first time in like 20 years, and the second time in 50.) The question arises: who are these guys? Some people only want to know who they are in a football sense, but, to truly understand our opponents on the gridiron, you have to know where they come from, so football strategy can wait. I plan on getting to know these universities a little bit better with posts on each college, mainly with info gleaned from their wikipedia pages.
This conference realignment cycle's victim: The Nebraska Cornhuskers
Where: Lincoln, Nebraska. Lincoln is the capital and second-biggest city in Nebraska, and is pretty much smack dab in the middle of the state. (skerz points out it's actually way, way in the southeast, and I feel stupid.) It's home to 250,000 people who aren't big fans of distinctive geographical features such as rivers, lakes, or hills. Famous Lincolnians include Dick Cheney, Hillary Swank, and Joba Chamberlain, who have absolutely nothing in common they could hypothetically talk about if forced to sit at a table together. Except I bet all of them have fired guns before at some point in their life. You're not hiding anything from me, Hillary Swank.
I just read the entire Lincoln, Nebraska wikipedia page, and really have nothing more I could tell you. In lieu of interesting facts about Lincoln, Nebraska, here's a youtube video of giraffes having sex.
For the record, that video has 4 million views. There are 250,000 people in Lincoln, Nebraska. I propose Lincoln, Nebraska change their slogan to "Lincoln: 1/8 as interesting as giraffes doing it", although, the state of Nebraska might beat them to the punch with "Nebraska: about half as interesting as giraffes boning", which could also go for Chicago's slogan. I'm proud to be in a city that would be able to keep integer status in a world where everything was based on giraffe sex video counts.
Size: UNL has 18,526 undergrads, or 2.18 Northwesterns. (Or, while we're at it, .0045 giraffe sex video counts.)
Stadium: Memorial Stadium becomes the third Memorial Stadium in the Big Ten conference, along with the ones in Champaign and Bloomington. It holds 81,000, but that didn't stop them from cramming 86,304 fans in for a game this past year against Louisiana-Lafayette. More people attended a recent Larry the Cable guy show at Memorial Stadium than can fit in Ryan Field, which is really an all-around testament to bad taste, both in people who don't care enough about Northwestern sports to go to enough football games to demand 50,000 seats in our stadium and people who care enough about Larry the Cable Guy to see one of his concerts.
Mascot: Nebraska, in case you ain't heard, is the Cornhuskers, which means a dude who removes husks from corn, or shucks it, which is an occupation your society needs if you have so much corn that people cannot individually husk their own corn, and also, you don't have like machines and stuff. UNL underwent a variety of nicknames in the 1890's, and with no disrespect to the current nickname, which I think is really unique, awesome, and fits the Nebraska team beautifully, all the 1890's nicknames were awesome. They went by the Hawkeyes (blah) Antelopes (BANG. Now used by UN-Kearney), the Old Gold Knights (doable) the Bugeaters (HELL YEAH WATCH THE HELL OUT TINY INSECTS NEBRASKA'S COMING TO BUGEAT YOUR PUNK ASSES), and, of course, the Mankilling Mastodons. "The Mankilling Mastodons" is the best team name the world has ever known. Nebraska is a disgrace to the rest of the world for having ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever contimplated switching from the perfect team name. You all disgust me.
As for the actual mascot, they have two: the official mascot is Herbie Husker, whose 50 year career as a jazz keyboardist has taken him from a sidekick in Miles Davis' great quintet to a career as a bandleader that has seen him release such immediately recognizable hits as "Maiden Voyage", "Chameleon" and "Rockit" sorry, that was all about Herbie Hancock, the pianist, not Herbie Husker. Herbie is in the Purdue Pete category of really, really, really creepy mascots with human bodies and constantly smiling heads with questionable selection in hats:
Thanks, Herbie, I didn't want to sleep tonight without having my dreams haunted by your constant smile.
Although it's notably absent in that photo, he normally carries an ear of corn in his pocket, which is where your average cowboy hat-wearing corn husker stores his corn before shucking it. Because the heavenly powers that be hate reasonable things, Herbie Husker is accompanied by an equally creepy child husking mascot, Lil' Red, playing on Nebraska's nickname as "Big Red". He became associated with Husker sports in 1993, and looks like this.
You're probably wondering why he's wearing a sideways hat: Huskers sports doesn't have an official reason, but I think it's to increase his swag and street cred by associating him with fellow Lil' people such as Lil' Romeo, Lil' Jon, and Lil' Bow Wow, all of whom are pictured there wearing sideways baseball hats.
Fellow Lil' person/rapper/enormous fan of Nebraska sports, Lil' Wayne.
Mascot if I ran the school: Obviously, the Mankilling Mastodons. Again, no disrespect to the Cornhuskers name, which really works awesomely, but my hands are tied here. Our mascot would actually be a reincarnated mastodon that killed people by stabbing them through the head with his tusks, and death metal band Mastodon would often come and murder people on special occasions such as Homecoming.
Notable Alums: Besides football players and Mikki Moore, the school has produced three Noble laureates and eight Putlitzer winners, including badass general and UNL law grad John Pershing, who defeated all those punk Europeans in World War I. He's also one of only two to have been named the awesome sounding position of "General of the Armies" in the United States military. General of the Armies is the highest position possible, higher than a five-star general, and the only other person ever to hold the position is George Washington, who was given the position in 1976, a good 177 years after he died, so it really didn't mean that much to him. But before he was a general, he was a law student and professor of military science at UNL, where he founded a drill corps called the Pershing Rifles, which now has regiments at dozens of schools nationwide. It's a lot like when Charlton Heston came back to NU.
But the people you're probably most familiar with are Johnny Carson and Warren Buffett. You probably done heard of these two. For the record, I just did the math, and to be as rich as Warren Buffett by blogging, I would have to write Sippin' on Purple for the next eleventy trillion decades. I'd also have to never eat or spend money on anything ever, sort of like Buffett, who famously lives in a crappy little house in Omaha and eats in the same coffee shop pretty much every day, whereas if my net worth ever hits a million dollars, I'm immediately buying ten chinchilla fur coats and paying somebody to walk behind me with a diamond-encrusted wrestling championship belt at all times. Yeah, that's the life.
Current NFL Players: Nebraska has 45, yeah, forty-flippin-five, players on NFL rosters. They're eight players short of having an entire NFL team, but I heard the Lions are on the verge of signing Warren Buffett, so make it seven.
Difference between the amount of times Nebraska has been to the NCAA tournament and Northwestern has: 6. What do Nebraska and Northwestern have in common? No, not that we're both called NU, although that's true. No, not that we've both won 0 Big Ten basketball tournaments. Who said that? You're banned from the site. I meant that neither team has ever won an NCAA tournament game, which is true of only 3 BCS conference teams. (Us, them, and South Florida.) The Huskers hadn't actually made the tourney until 1986, never having won the Big 12 or Big Eight outright, although they did split a title in 1950 and win the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletics Association crown in 1916, something they probably don't brag about. But the team was revitalized in the early 1990's under head coach Danny Nee and such perennially sub-par NBA players as Tyronn Lue and Eric Piatkowski. The team went to the tourney from 1991-1994, culminating that stretch with their only ever win in the Big Eight basketball tourney. Then, in 1996, they brought home the NIT chip, followed by two more NCAA bids. And since, they've vanished off the face of the basketball earth, like so many Evan Eschmeyers - although Tyronn Lue can still be seen creepily haunting the Celtics bench as an assistant coach.
Elsewhere in Nebraska sports: Nebraska looooooves them some women's volleyball. The four largest attendance records for women's volleyball matches in North America all have come at NCAA regional matches held in Omaha featuring the three-time champ Cornhuskers, the reason they don't set more records is because they play in a 4,000 person stadium built especially for volleyball, the Nebraska Coliseum, where the Huskers have a home-court advantage like no other: they have a .938 winning percentage all-time, have only lost three conference home games in the 33-year history of the stadium as a volleyball venue, and hold the record for consecutive sellouts in a women's sport. It's weird, because Penn State is better than them.
For the most part, Nebraska is a rare school in that its football team is very nearly its winningest program in terms of national championships: the football Huskers have brought home five, more than any program besides men's gymnastics, which have eight to their names.
Go N! UN!: When someone says "The University of Nebraska", most of the time, they're referring to UNL: the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, home of the Cornhuskers. This school has taken up the abbreviation "NU" amongst many who refer to the school, although UNL is probably more common. But technically, it's referring to the entire University of Nebraska system, of which the primary other component is University of Nebraska-Omaha, home to the Mavericks, who also wear red and white, just to steal Nebraska's thunder. For some reason, the Mavs are D-II in every sport... except ice hockey. Yes, that most Nebraskan of sports, ice hockey. UNL doesn't have a matching stick-wielding program, probably because of the massive apathy the world takes towards UNO hockey.
Somebody call Robert Traylor: The campus is home to the Lester F. Larsen Tractor Museum, home to over 40 historical tractors. Take it away, wikipedia!
Today it remains the sole museum in the United States dedicated to tractor testing.
YOU'VE GOT TO BE SH*TTING ME. There's no way that the Lester F. Larsen Tractor Museum remains THE ONLY museum dedicated to tractor testing in the entire friggin United States? You mean other places haven't been tempted to add tractor testing museums to their college campuses after seeing that? Jesus.