by Paige Cornwell
There is no place like Nebraska, and there is no pride like Husker Pride.
Husker fans are known for being loyal to their teams. Every season, thousands of fans wearing scarlet and cream crowd into Nebraska’s various state-of-the-art sporting complexes to show off their Husker pride.
Whether it’s a game at Memorial Stadium, Pinnacle Bank Arena or Haymarket Park, the Husker fans will be there. And they have a lot to be proud of.
This pride is most evident on Nebraska football game days. Every entrance at Memorial Stadium has the phrase “Through these gates pass the Greatest Fans in College Football,” and Husker fans are eager to live up to that statement. The Sea of Red is consistently ranked the most loyal fans in the country, judged by the number of fans at every home game and how many travel throughout the country to cheer on their team.
“We only have 1.8 million people in this state. Every other state in the Big Ten has a much larger population base, and that was also a fact when we were in the Big 12. For us to be competitive, we need the devotion and the energy of our fan base,” former coach and athletic director Tom Osborne said.
Husker fans are more than willing to provide that devotion and energy. Memorial Stadium has had 333 consecutive sellouts, an NCAA record. That’s more than 40 years of Husker pride and devotion.
Nebraska added more than 6,000 seats to Memorial Stadium before the 2006 season and completed an East Stadium expansion in 2013, yet fans still pack the stadium. Attendance surpassed 90,000 for the first time in 2013.
“Nebraska football game day traditions have no peer and reach out and touch you with all kinds of interesting sights and inspiring sounds,” Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst said.
For Husker pride, it’s important to know the traditions.
While walking toward Memorial Stadium, don’t be surprised if you hear someone yell “Goooo Big Red.” Return the chant with a faster “Go Big Red!” High-five the fans who have been waiting outside the stadium to ensure they get a good spot in the student section and look up to see the various quotations etched onto the sides of the stadium sides. Listen as one side of the stadium yells “Husker” and the other side responds “Power!”” Witness the goosebump-inducing Tunnel Walk, the colorful balloon release after the first touchdown and the happy fans “throwing the bones” for the Blackshirts.
Be sure to listen for the real “Pride of All Nebraska,” the University of Nebraska Cornhusker Marching Band. The 300-member band performs at all football games and is one the oldest and most well-known college bands in the United States.
Fans should also know some of the Husker band’s fight songs. Swing your arms back and forth while you sing all the words to “Dear Old Nebraska U (There is No Place Like Nebraska)” and you’ll be sure to blend in with the Sea of Red:
There is no place like Nebraska
Dear old Nebraska U.
Where the girls are the fairest,
The boys are the squarest,
Of any old school that I knew.
There is no place like Nebraska,
Where they’re all true blue.
We’ll all stick together,
In all kinds of weather,
For Dear old Nebraska U!
And the fans aren’t just there for the home games. More than 60,000 fans traveled to Pasadena for the 2002 Rose Bowl, and a year before, more than 30,000 trekked to the game against Norte Dame. Though the game was in South Bend, the Sea of Red made it look like a Husker home game.
Husker fans pride themselves on their commitment to their team, and they also pride themselves on their hospitality. The fans of opposing teams courageous enough to venture into Huskerland will find themselves feeling right at home. No matter what team colors you’re wearing, don’t be surprised if someone invites you to join their tailgate, or even come over for Sunday dinner. And at the end of games, no matter what team won, Husker fans make sure to clap and give a standing ovation to the opposing team.
“I think Nebraska fans are the greatest fans in college football, no question in my mind. The enthusiasm here is as good as any place, but the integrity here of the fans is the best in America,” Lee Corso, ESPN College Football analyst, said.
The late football commentator Beano Cook perhaps said it best when he talked about Husker fans and their respect for football:
“The two best things to ever come out of Nebraska are Johnny Carson and sportsmanship. Nebraska sets the standard for how fans should act,” Cook said.
The Nebraska athletes also take pride in their teams, and show that pride with Fan Days. The Husker football team Fan Day, held during fall camp in Memorial Stadium, brings nearly 10,000 Husker fans who want to get some one-on-one time with the players. Every Husker player and coach signs autographs and takes pictures with fans as they get a chance to see what it’s like on the field. The Fan Day tradition started more than 30 years ago.
A final way to experience Husker pride is to attend a Spring Game, when the football team practices for the final time in the spring. An estimated 80,000 fans consistently show up for the “game,” even though they are playing against themselves. And perhaps it’s the most fun game of all. No matter what, the Huskers win.