Okay, so the new Cornhusker uniforms (uni-corns?) Nebraska will be wearing when the Wisconsin Badgers come to Lincoln September 29th have met the approval of some of the Husker players, but I have yet to hear one Husker fan give a thumbs up to them.
I'm a traditionalist at heart, but I'll take Haymarket Park over the Buck; the Century Link Center over the Omaha Civic Auditorium, and TD Ameritrade Park over Rosenblatt Stadium. Change is good but only if it's better than the original. And in the case of the new uniforms, it's not an improvement. Having said that, just as long as Nebraska wins the game, most fans wouldn't care if the Huskers wore dresses.
MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY
Those who think the recent New Orleans Saints bounty-hunting scandal (paying players bonuses to purposely injure opponents to get them out of the game) is just an NFL issue need to think again. The scandal could have far-reaching effects that could change the face not only of NFL football, but the game of football as well -- especially if attorneys and the government get involved. Football as we know and love it may become a thing of the past.
People have asked me if there is some kind of player revolt going on with the recent wave of Husker defections. The wave includes QB Cody Green (Tulsa), WR Khiry Cooper (Tulsa) and RB Aaron Green (TCU). And the list just grew when OL Ryan Klachko announced this week that he is going to transfer, possibly to Illinois.
Unfortunately, the playing careers of other former Husker transfers, like RB DeAngelo Evans ('96-'98 to Emporia State-KS), QB Joe Dailey ('03-'04 to North Carolina) and QB Harrison Beck ('05 to North Carolina State and to Division II South Alabama), didn't work out too well.
So, is there a conspiracy? No. The reason for most transfers? Playing time, or lack thereof. (Some leave due to family issues and in the case of the Penn State players, because of school scandals and sanctions.)
Players are under a lot of pressure from family members, friends and teammates to play and to play early. Some kids, who used to get by in high school with just their athleticism, find they have to work much harder to succeed at the college level. And some aren't willing to pay the price.
For many, transferring doesn't work out. But for at least one former Husker player, things may be looking up. Cody Green will be the starting QB for Tulsa this fall.
MORE ON PENN STATE
A buddy of mine who lives in Pennsylvania, Bill Moran, has been a HUGE Husker fan for decades. He also has disliked (that's putting it mildly) the PSU football program for many years. Recently, he told me just how deep his resentment for the Lions is.
"When my kids were little, I told them I would give each of them a quarter for every point Penn State lost by." Not too surprising to this day, his kids aren't PSU fans.
A buddy of mine in Lincoln was washing his car a few months ago at one of the coin-operated car washes in Lincoln. Suddenly, he noticed a familiar face. It was Rex Burkhead, who was also washing his car. Jeeze, Husker stars having to wash their own cars? What's the world coming to?
SPEAKING OF REX
If he rushes this fall for the same amount of yardage as last year (1,357), Rex Burkhead will become Nebraska's second all-time leading career rusher with 4,011 yards, behind only Heisman trophy winner Mike Rozier with 4,780. And if Burkhead reaches that milestone, he would leapfrog former Husker greats like Ahman Green, Eric Crouch, Roy Helu Jr. and Calvin Jones. Here's to a great year for #22!
THE PASSING GAME
One of the downsides to living a long time is having to say goodbye to many friends and relatives along the way. During the offseason, I had to say goodbye to some people who were very special to me:
I got to know Jim when both of us were Monday night readers for the Radio Talking Book Network here in Omaha. For about 10 years every Monday night from 6 to 8, Jim and I read articles from the Omaha World-Herald and the Lincoln Journal. I would make up voices and accents, trying to crack him up. In short, we had a blast reading together. I told Jimmy that the day he decided to hang it up from RTBN, I would, too. And when he did, so did I.
I couldn't imagine reading with anyone else. He was a retired veterinarian who was one of the nicest people God ever created. He and his adorable wife, Marge, made the perfect couple. Jim was a huge Husker fan and rarely missed a Husker home or away game.
Jim and I used to end our broadcasts by singing Roy Rogers' theme song, "Happy Trails." (I'd add the clopping of the horse hooves for effect!) Well, my friend, here's to you. "Happy trails to you/until we meet again/Happy trails to you/Keep smilin' until then..."
• TOM NORLIE (Independence, MO)
Tom was my sales manager when I took my first "real" job fresh out of college. (I sold pharmaceuticals to doctors and hospitals.) Tom was a master coach. He was patient, wise and very supportive even when I screwed up. He was a great salesman who taught me a lot, not just about selling but about life as well. It was because of Tom that I developed the confidence to pursue my dream of a music career in Los Angeles.
Through the years, we often talked on the phone. Thankfully, I told him many times how much he meant to me.
• DICK WHALEN (Omaha, NE)
Dick was my favorite brother-in-law. I say favorite because he was my only brother-in-law! He was a big Husker fan and went to all the Husker home games until his health deteriorated. When I was living in Los Angeles, he would always send me the latest copy of the Husker media guides. He could fix almost anything, but sadly, he couldn't fix his health. He left us way too soon and we will miss him forever.