Preserving Pieces of Husker Football History - One Man's Passion

Paul "Jake" Jacobsen is a fervent Husker fan and like many of us, it was something that was molded in his youth. His hobby consists collecting audio and video from old Nebraska football games. It's an understandable passion - one I certainly can identify with, and I'm sure that's the case with most sports fans.

Seeing the replay of a game you saw two or 25 years ago takes you back to that moment in time. Hearing an audio clip has the same affect, perhaps more heightened because you're left to imagine the scene as it first happened. 

As Jake points out - it's not as easy as people think to find old recordings. The primary purpose of this interview is somewhat sacred. It's to help someone further his quest of finding and collecting old Husker material so that some day it might be more available to all. 

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you became interested in collecting old audio and video of Husker football. 

 

I'm from Firth, Nebraska. I went to Norris High School. My junior & senior years in basketball, we had a 47-game winning streak, which was a Class "B" state record, until Wahoo broke our record winning 114 games in row. Ironic, because now I live in Wahoo.

Probably every Nebraska fan collects something. I happen to collect Nebraska video & audio recordings. It's great way to preserve history and a tangible way to 'relive' great moments in Nebraska football. 

I grew up like any kid, glued to the radio listening to the Nebraska football games. Back then Husker fans had their choice of radio stations to listen to.  KFOR (Dick Perry), KLIN (Don Gill, Tim Moreland, Tom Hedrick, Ray Scott), WOW (Russ Baldwin)...all broadcasted the Cornhusker games. 

In our house, we listened to KFAB and Lyell Bremser.

I listened...very intently...to every play. Even during the rare weeks the game was televised, we turned down the TV volume and listened to Lyell Bremser. 

My hobby started with my interest in the 1971 Nebraska-Oklahoma game. I wasn't old enough to understand the magnitude of the 1971 Nebraska-Oklahoma game at the time. I wanted badly to see the game again, listen to the  radio broadcast again. When I finally did, I enjoyed it so much, I began searching for other games and my hobby grew from there.

Why is it so difficult to find old audio and video?

Not a lot of games survived the years. The radio stations recorded the games on large reel-to-reel tapes. Space limitations didn't allow those tapes to saved. They were erased and reused.

If the TV networks and affiliates saved them, they're in an obsolete format, which is extremely costly to convert to digital. On top of that, there's no demand to convert them to an updated format. 

I and some other insightful Cornhusker fans happen to have the foresight to record Nebraska football and save them. While I didn't record all my games myself, I made enough contacts that I've become 'hub' for old recordings. I'm extremely grateful for the help of the fans who have donated recordings.

You're involved with the Huskers Legends Radio Show - hosted by Husker great Jerry Murtaugh. How did that come about, and what are you doing for them? 

Back in 2004,  my "Holy Grail"  was the NBC-TV Broadcasts of 1971, 1972, and 1973 Orange Bowls. ( Nebraska vs LSU, Alabama and Notre Dame).  I was told they didn't exist.  After 31 years of searching, I got call from a guy in Calfornia who had them. They were made from NBC master recordings. I was so excited!

I was watching the 1971 Orange Bowl, and I thought to myself, 'I'll bet some of the former players would like to see this.' I simply looked up Jerry Murtaugh in the phone book, left a message, and within minutes, he called me right back.

He had the concept of 'Legends Radio Show' back then. We stayed in touch off and on over the years. When the show was about to be launched, he asked if I would help.

Jerry tells me who his guests are, while I find clips and e-mail them to him. A couple weeks into the show, he calls and tells me, "...you should see the guy's eyes light up when we play your clips..."  He constantly tells me how much the former players enjoy hearing the old clips.

What is the most interesting project you've done to date?

I've done a couple of projects that were fairly extensive. The 1959 Nebraska-Oklahoma game, the 1964 Orange Bowl vs Auburn and the 1964 Minnesota game. The most comprehensive  project was the 1941 Rose Bowl.

The NBC radio audio was at the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress said I could have it, but I had to get copyright permission from NBC and pay engineering fees to convert it to CD.

NBC graciously granted me copyright permission. The recording has the following conditions:

1) I can't  use it for commercial use...in other words, I can't sell it.

2) I can give copies to surviving team members.

3) I gave a copy to the University of Nebraska....I offered a copy to Stanford, but they declined.

Once I got the audio, I synced it up with the silent film and created my own 'broadcast' of the 1941 Rose Bowl.

Here's a related story... I synced up the film and radio for the 1964 Nebraska-Minnesota game. I contacted Fred Duda and sent him a copy. He was so appreciative, he sent me tickets to the Western Michigan game last year. I used the opportunity to take my four-year old son to his first game, so my son can always say he saw Bo Pelini's first game as head coach and we got the the tickets from a former Nebraska quarterback, Fred Duda. My friend, that's connecting past, present and future!

Are the items you have for sale to Husker fans, or what are your plans for your material?

Unfortunately, no....not yet.

You can hear clips on The LEGENDS Radio Show -- Saturday 8 to 9 am on Big Sports Radio 590am (Note - out of state Husker fans can download the shows from the Legends web site. We need to pressure them to put the shows up on iTunes for easier access). I have had discussions about making a 'greatest plays' CD, but those talks are in the infancy stage. There are a lot of hurdles to be cleared.

How can fans help you with your cause, whether they be Husker fans or fans of opposing teams?

If any fans have have any recordings, visit me site at HuskerTapes.com and shoot me an e-mail. This hobby is driven by insightful Cornhusker fans. There is a chance we could use your recordings on the Legends Radio Show. The former players really appreciate it! 

I got away from recording games during my college years. So,I'm weak on some Kent Pavelka years, 1984 - 1992. 

Some historical games on my 'most wanted' list are the 1966 Nebraska-Colorado and 1969 Nebraska-Kansas game. I'd love to hear some radio audio on Bobby Reynolds! I've watched his highlights...staggering! He did it all! Essentially, anything older than 1969 would be greatly appreciated!

Samples 

Jake was kind enough to send some samples of his collection. The samples are rather large, so they're not included on this page to allow for faster loading. Click on the links to hear the audio samples and see John Rudd's hit against Oklahoma in 1978.  

Freeman White vs Minnesota 1964 - 

1978 John Ruud Hit - Regarded as one of the hardest hits in Husker football history, here's the audio featuring the great Lyell Bremser

John Ruud Hit - video of the John Ruud hit, taken from Best of Big Red's "Greatest Plays of the of the 20th Century" by bestofbigred.com

Ken Clark 1988 - Ken Clark scores on the first play from scrimmage against Oklahoma State.  Call by Kent Pavelka with his signature "Touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdown!" 

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