HuskerNation Heads West To Pasadena
Dec 29, 2001
By RICHARD ROSENBLATT
AP Football Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Time for the HuskerNation to head west.
The way people are talking, the Rose Bowl may look more like the Big RedRose Bowl when No. 4 Nebraska kicks off against No. 1 Miami on Thursday night.
The usual sellout crowd of 91,000-plus will settle in to watch the BowlChampionship Series’ national title game, but two out of every three fans couldbe wearing Husker red – a decided edge for a team many believe doesn’t belonghere.
“Sixty-, seventy-thousand fans would be shocking, but it wouldn’t besurprising,” Nebraska coach Frank Solich said. “They do have a way of gettingin the games. We appreciate the great fan support we receive.”
At a time when families are reluctant to travel in the aftermath of theSept. 11 attacks, Nebraska fans are following their beloved Huskers likealways. And they are coming up with tickets, too.
Thousands are arriving on charter or commercial flights, others by RV, vansand cars. And the school’s biggest alumni group – Californians for Nebraska -has set up game packages for hundreds, if not thousands, of its members.
Nebraska easily sold its 21,000-ticket allotment, and came up with another5,000 from the Big Ten and Pac-10 conferences. Those were gone in six hours.
“By the time the game arrives, based on the past, I’d say that number willdouble,” said Chris Anderson, Nebraska’s sports information director.”Forty-thousand is not out of the question. Our fans find tickets. There’s noway to confirm how many, so we’ll just see who shows up.”
In addition to each team’s allotment, the rest of the Rose Bowl tickets aredistributed to the Tournament of Roses (24,000), the Big Ten and Pac-10 (9,000each), public sales (3,000), and ABC (2,000), which televises the game. Thereare another 2,000 seats, but those will be used for media .
On its Web site (www.cal4ne.com), the up to 10,000-member strongCalifornians for Nebraska said it had 343 game tickets, and was trying to comeup with more. A block of 13 seats near the 30-yard line on the Nebraska, forexample, was selling for $300 per ticket. Rose Bowl tickets have a face valueof $150 each.
“It’s been amazing at Nebraska, the fan support,” Solich added. “They notonly fill the stands at home, they fill it up on the road.”
At Memorial Stadium, the sellout streak stands at 247 games, dating to 1962.Road shows have been just as impressive.
Last season, Notre Dame was red in the face when about 30,000 Nebraska fansfound their way into the 80,000-seat Notre Dame Stadium despite the schoolreceiving just 4,000 tickets for the game. There were another 20,000 or so whomade the 500-mile trip from Lincoln just to tailgate in the parking lot.
“When I was on the field before the game I wish I was color blind,” NotreDame athletic director Kevin White said at the time. “Disappointing, verydisappointing.”
In 1998, Nebraska made two trips west during a subpar 9-4 season, with about35,000 Husker fans attending each game – a regular-season win at California anda loss to Arizona in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego.
Miami (11-0) may be favored on the field, but Nebraska (11-1)is the overwhelming winner in the stands.
Despite a perfect record, the Hurricanes sold out only one home game(against Washington), and have never traveled well. The fact Miami sold all itstickets is a major accomplishment, although it remains to be seen how many endup in Husker hands.
“We’re not going to be affected by that,” Miami coach Larry Coker said,reminding that Miami won at Penn State in front of 100,000-plus fans and endedFlorida State’s 10-year, home unbeaten streak before 86,000.
“If there’s 70,000, I’ll be surprised but I know how seriously they taketheir football,” Coker added. “We’ll only be affected by how we play, howwell Nebraska plays.”
Nebraska fans track down ticket brokers and travel agents looking for gamepackages. This year, it took a little longer because only a late-season seriesof upsets allowed Nebraska to move into Rose Bowl despite its 62-36 loss toColorado on Nov. 23.
Joe and Mary Ann Weinert of Omaha, season ticket-holders for 44 years,called six travel agents before landing their package on Dec. 10, the day afterNebraska made the Rose Bowl thanks to LSU’s upset of Tennessee.
“You couldn’t get through on the phone,” Mary Ann Weinert said a few weeksback as she stood at the counter of Omaha’s Travel and Transport Inc. “Youwould just stay on hold for hours.”
The Rose Bowl already has a place in Nebraska’s record book. The largestcrowd to see the Huskers on the road was the 92,000 that showed up for a 21-13loss to Stanford in the 1941 Rose Bowl.
It’s unknown how many Husker fans made the journey then, but you can be sureThursday’s game will be the reddest of them all.