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Review: Nebraska Football Vault by Mike Babcock

 The Nebraska Football Vault is more than a mere coffee table book - it’s more like a Nebraska football souvenir book. It's a gorgeous book that delivers a little more than just text and photography.

Author Mike Babcock is well-known to Husker fans, having written about Nebraska football for 30 years. He is currently a contributing editor for Huskers Illustrated, and writes for the Grand Island Independent, York News-Times, and The Reader. He’s authored several Husker books, two of which I’ve previously reviewed; "Heart of a Husker: Tom Osborne’s Nebraska Legacy", and "Stadium Stories: Nebraska Cornhuskers".

Babcock does an excellent job of detailing Nebraska’s football history, beginning with its start in 1890 and continuing through the hiring of Bo Pelini. He introduces you to great players, great coaches, and the greatest games of each era of Husker football. Husker football fans should know the names - George Flippin, Guy Chamberlain, Sam Francis, Ed Weir, Tom Novak, Bobby Reynolds - and what they meant to Husker history.

Babcock makes it clear that Nebraskans fell in love with football and their football team from the very beginning. Knowing the history of Nebraska football helps us understand our Nebraska heritage - something Roger Aden points out in Huskerville - so Babcock's book could be seen as something that transcends mere football but leads to an understanding of why the sport is so important to the state.

The foreward is provided by Tom Osborne as he talks about the importance of history, while the afterword is provided by Bo Pelini as he talks about what makes Nebraska unique amongst college football programs, again pointing out why Nebraskans hold football so dear.

The book is rich in it’s coverage of Husker football history with plenty of interesting photography to go along with the text. What makes the Nebraska Football Vault unique are the pouches attached to pages throughout the book. Each pouch is like an envelope containing reproductions of football paraphernalia pertinent to the historical period on the page. There are many of these reproductions throughout the book.

A few examples:

- A photograph/postcard with a picture of the 1907 Nebraska football team, complete with signature on the back by "Mr C.L. Swanson". Hand-written on the front is "How many of these boys do you know".

- Postcard reproductions of game day program covers throughout the years.

- Ticket reproductions from games throughout Husker history. Cool not only to see the style of the times, but to track the ticket price as it progressed. Cost for the 1941 Rose Bowl? $2.50. The 1964 Orange Bowl? $5.00. The 1998 Orange Bowl? $80.00. My how times have changed.

- And my favorite from the World War II era, a bomb leaflet stating:
"Cornhuskers Surrender! You Are Fighting for A Lost Cause! Forget While There Is Still Time! This Leaflet Guarantees You Safe Conduct Behind The Lines. Present it to Any UCLA BRUIN".

At $49.95 list, the price tag may seem a bit steep (although the Amazon discount isn’t too bad), but Babcock’s complete coverage of Husker history plus the photography along with the reproductions makes the book worth it. It's truly a gorgeous and unique book.

The Nebraska Football Vault  is a perfect Holiday present for any Husker fan. It's well-known that Steve Smith’s Forever Red is THE Husker fan book every Husker fan should own. Mike Babcock’s Nebraska Football Vault is now THE guide to Husker football history that every Husker fan should own.