Erwin normally didn't read the Omaha World-Herald, except on Husker game days like today. A lifetime Lincolnite, the Journal-Star was more than enough news for his daily taste, but when it came to the Husker football coverage he craved while he sat at the bar at Jorgensen's sipping coffee and waiting for Debbie to bring him his standard order of bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, and toast, he needed to read the opinions of Shatel and Chatelain in addition those of Sipple and Christopherson. Even if that kid Chatelain didn't know what he was talking about.
Even at 8:15 on the day of an 11 A.M. kickoff, Jorgensen's was moving slow. The simple downtown diner was still a coffee shop as Erwin had known coffee shops to be, not those extravagant places like The Mill or Starbucks, the king of generic and excesses. Who on earth would pay five dollars for coffee and steamed milk? Oh, excuse him, espresso and steamed milk, as Erwin's granddaughter reminded him. Erwin would pay as much for his whole breakfast here as she would pay for one of those lattes and a pastry.
Yes, Erwin was just fine here, sipping his coffee and reading the news, a game day tradition like any other. He wondered how hot it would get. Hopefully not too hot -- he'd worn his sweatshirt...
“Ah, man, can I get some coffee here?” a twenty-something man plopped onto the stool one down from his, as if he'd just finished partying fifteen minutes prior He wore a tattered red suit jacket and a red t-shirt from one of those fraternities. His shaggy brown hair looked like it needed to be cut two weeks ago.
“Hey, how's it going, old man?” his breath reeked of alcohol. “Nebraska is going to win today!”
“Hope so? They've got to win today. Put her here.” The young man held out his hand, and Erwin tepidly high-fived him. “You going to the game?”
“Yes, my wife and I have season tickets. Had them since 1965.”
“1965? Sweet. Yeah, they better win today.” Debbie poured the young man his coffee with her eyebrows raised. The young man took a swig of it.
“It'll be tough. UCLA beat us last year.”
“Yeah, but it's here, and we cruised the last two weeks. 12-0, I can feel it. Just wish the game wasn't so darn early.”
“Early? It's only at 11 A.M.”
“That's early man.” Just wait until you have to start going to work every day of the week, Erwin thought.
“I liked it when all of the games were at 1 in the afternoon. Year after year, the games were always at one, and it gave us plenty of time to get downtown to the stadium and get home afterward. There hasn't been a game start at 1 since 2008, now that all the games are on TV.”
“Yeah, now they always start at 11, 2:30, or at night. I remember when I was in high school, my dad and I went to game against Iowa State that started at 1:00. It took forever to finish, because there was no TV.”
“TV is what slows the games down. They always have to wait for them to come back from commercial break.”
“No man, TV made it faster. It was the TV executives that put in all those rules about the clock that shortened the games. They have to get them down in time for the next games.”
“They've got too many games on TV now.”
“No, football looks great on TV. That's the whole reason I came to school here at Nebraska, because the games look so great on TV.”
“Where you from?”
“Council Bluffs.” Debbie brought Erwin his breakfast, and he dug into his eggs
“Yeah, the games always look great on TV, but I don't understand why the Big 10 had to put us at 11 A.M. It's like they think being the morning game is better than being the night game.”
“So, everyone's up by then, and besides, then you'll get to watch other games. Texas A&M is playing Alabama at 2:30”
“Yeah, but it's this is our best home game of the season. It should be at night.”
“I don't like night games. They always go so late.”
“I know, I know. You probably go to bed at nine-thirty.” Ten, actually, but Erwin didn't say this. “All I'm saying is that, if the best game of the season is at 11 A.M., what's the point? They may as well serve bacon and eggs in the Runza and put farmer's market on the UCLA sideline. Hey, they should even have a Scooter's Coffee in the stadium for all games starting before noon so we can all get our lattes.”
Now that is a reasonable argument for having more games at night, Erwin thought.
Derek Johnson is a Seward, Nebraska native who works for his family's organic farm seed company, Blue River Hybrids, and is a freelance writer and commission photographer. He has been a contributor to Husker Max since 2013, and is a former contributor to the website Husker Locker. Visit his blog, derekjohnsonmuses.com, and follow him on twitter @derekjohnson05 for regular updates.