Rewind my life to November 14th, 1992. I am at the Nebraska- Iowa State game in Ames. It's a beautiful day, sunny, not much wind - rather rare for November in Iowa. Sitting next to me in the first row of the upper deck on the east side of the stadium is my wife. She is seven months pregnant with our first child. Next to her are my sister and brother-in-law, and next to them is my good friend Todd and his wife. Todd got his undergrad degree at Nebraska, and his master's at Iowa State. Tammy is an Iowa State alum.
Nebraska is ranked seventh in the nation, fresh off blow-out wins over eighth-ranked Colorado, 52-7 and thirteenth ranked Kansas, 49-7. We're expecting another Nebraska blow-out, as Iowa State was 3-6 coming into the game and starting Marv Seiler, a fifth-year Senior quarterback who'd never started a game. As was at the time, Nebraska was leading the nation in rushing at 351 yards per game, but today the offense is incapable of moving the ball. Early in the game John Parrella sacks the Seiler and is flagged for a fifteen yard personal foul penalty for excessive celebration when he points both his fingers at him as he's lying on the ground. It's a borderline call, but
We snuck alcohol into the game. "Snuck" is a difficult word to use here, because as I'm looking around at the other fans, I see a woman sitting in the front row who has a wine cooler bottle in her hand, out in the open for anyone to see. I see an ISU student below us stand up straight, lift a bottle of whiskey high to drain the last drop, and then throw the fifth-sized bottle into the ISU band. A few moments of glancing around gives me the idea that Iowa State really doesn't care what people have brought into the stadium.
On the kick-off after a Nebraska score the ball sails all the way through the uprights. In a moment of glee, with a beer can in my hand, I stand up, single touchdown, and scream "Field Goal!" at the top of my lungs. At that instant an Iowa State policeman who is ten yards to my left yells at me.
"Buddy, you and YOUR CAN are outta here!"
"You can't bring alcohol into the stadium."
"And I'm the only person with alcohol?"
My voice is rising.
"You're the only one I see."
So is his.
"You must have pretty selective vision."
At this point, he's moved toward me and I have moved toward him to the point that we're just about in each other's face. My buddy Todd saves me when moves between us and begins pushing me towards the exit. The cop follows us, yelling more warnings about jail, fines, charges, and my heritage.
"You come back into the stadium, you're going to jail."
I realize at this point that I have to calm down and leave because the alternative is very bad. I try some witty banter like "Where can I listen to the game?" and it works because the policeman calms down and we have a short, but civil conversation about football as he follows me to the bottom of the upper deck ramp.
As I'm leaving, the thought enters my mind that there are at least 60 exits - there is no way he can guard all of them. I begin to walk out of the stadium, and at the North end, I spot a porta-potty. I have no intention of leaving a game like this, and figure the porta-potty break will give me a moment to see if he's still watching me. Besides, I need the break.
As I'm stepping out, an ISU student bumps into me and says something to the affect of "Hey, come and sit with us" so I do. At that time, there wasn't a building at the North end, but there were temporary aluminum bleachers. I wander up to the bleachers with him and encounter an entire section of drunk students from ISU. They're all very friendly, and we are all standing together yelling at the game. They share their snuck-in beverages with me - we're all having a helluva time.
The game goes on. Nebraska's potent offense can do nothing, ISU leads at half 12-10. With each ISU first down, the announcer is becoming more excited. As he hit the fourth quarter, the guy is screaming so wildly you can barely understand anything he's saying. ISU leads, and on a key play early in the fourth quarter, Seiler breaks free and is running towards us. The guys around me are screaming that he's going to score and I'm screaming "he's not going to make it" and he doesn't. He's tackled at the two yard line, after a 78 yard run. The Cyclones score to make it 19-10.
The students around me start to make plans to storm the field. I inform them that after a win like this, they have to take down the goal posts. The game is nearly over, and the students start to mill about the field, just outside a short wire fence. Being an expert at tearing down goal posts, (I was on the field during the 1982 Oklahoma win, but that's another story.) I start screaming instructions at them.
"Make sure you all get over the fence at once, otherwise the cops'll pick you off if you go one by one! Make sure not to go onto the field. Stand at the edge of the field, but don't go on it!"
So sure enough, about 30-40 guys jump the fence simultaneously. As the last one goes over, he looks up at me and says:
"Aren't you coming?"
I pause for a moment and answer:
"Hell yes, I AM!"
I am wearing Nebraska red clothes, a Nebraska hat, and I jump the fence and get to the edge of the field. The game ends, and I'm on the field with a mob of students, trying to tear down the goal post. It's pandemonium. It's like festival seating at a rock concert, with everyone smashed together in a mass and moving in the same direction. A student next to me sees me, and says "You're Nebraskan?". I nod yes and he laughs and I realize how odd this must look
Apparently, a week or so before the game someone had driven onto the field and used a car to tear down the real goal posts, so they've put up some pretty fake, wimpy goal posts in their place. They come down pretty easy, fortunately, so no one gets injured.
The students are running around the field, and I'm running around with them for a moment until I see the Huskers, dejected and walking off the field. I run up to Tommie Frazier, and I hit him in the chest, tell him to get his head up and that we still need to beat Oklahoma and get to the Orange Bowl. I run up to every Nebraska player I can find and do the same, hit them, tell them to get up, and keep going for the season.
I turn and see that the group carrying a goal post are the same group of guys that I've just spent most of the game with. I run up to the head of the procession and yell at them:
"What the hell are you doing? You can't just parade around inside the stadium! Get the goal post out of here!"
"Where do we go?"
"I don't know, go to the bars, use it to pick up women, go to somewhere where you can cut it up and keep a piece, just get it out of the stadium!"
And off they go, out of the stadium. I heard later that the goal post was found thrown in a fountain or something like that - the perfect place for a goal post graveyard.
I have my camera with me, so I walk around on the field, taking pictures. The other goal post has been confiscated by Iowa State policemen, and they're guarding it as if it's Fort Knox. As I'm taking their picture, I turn around so see my buddy the policeman coming towards me. He's coming towards me with a look on his face like cops had when they went after hippie protesters during the Vietnam war. He has his hand on his nightstick, and he's pulling it out. I'm not thinking about jail at this point, I'm thinking about brain damage.
I feebly lift my camera to show him I'm just taking pictures, and then I turn away from him and take another picture, thinking I'm about to be bludgeoned from behind. I turn to him again when he's close enough and say:
"Did you really think I would miss Iowa State's only victory over Nebraska since forever? I'm just taking pictures, man, just taking pictures."
At the last moment, he calms, laughs and says
"Go ahead and take your pictures".
I try to maneuver him into a picture, because I don't ever want to forget him, but I'm not successful. I take a few more pictures, and then I suddenly remember that my wife is very pregnant. I make my way out of the stadium to find my wife, sister, brother-in-law, Todd, and ISU alum Tammy. After a few minutes with Tammy, I decide that being thrown of the game was divine intervention because if I'd spent the whole game sitting next to her I might have committed murder.
Iowa State's '92 victory over Nebraska was the only loss that Tom Osborne suffered against a team with a losing record. It was the first time since 1978 that Nebraska has lost to another Big Eight team besides Oklahoma or Colorado. It was the only Big Eight loss for Nebraska quarterback Tommie Frazier, the greatest quarterback in college history. After the Iowa State loss, Nebraska didn't lose a regular season game for another six years.
I'm still married. I still tell this story. I leave out the part about my wife being very pregnant, as it's her part and she never forgets to tell people how pregnant she was at the time. I had her read through the story before I posted it. Her only response was that it pissed her off all over again - how bad my behavior was. We're raising kids, and I guess I can understand that response.
Jon Johnston - University of Nebraska Class of '87
Maybe I'll see y'all in Ames this Saturday.