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'Twas the Night Before Kickoff

Coach receives a visit from a ghost of Huskers past.

"You learned you can come back. Remember that. That's the lesson of life" ...Bob Devaney
"You learned you can come back. Remember that. That's the lesson of life" ...Bob Devaney
Eric Francis

Twas the night before kickoff, and all through Husker Land,
Not a creature was stirring, not even the marching band;
The jerseys were hung in the lockers with care,
Knowing that game day soon would be there;
The fans were nestled all snug in their beds,
Visions of championships danced in their heads;
Head coach in his sweatshirt, never far from his cat,
Had just settled in for a long Twitter chat,
When from the stadium there arose such a clatter,
He sprinted out to see what was the matter.

The carefully groomed turf with its beads of dew
Sparkled and shined like a crystal football when new,
When what to his wondering eyes should appear,
No, not a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer,
But an Irishman with a glass that did not contain water
And he knew in a moment it must be the Bob-father.

More rapid than Martinez, the cuss words they flew,
Coach thinking "I hope no one is taping you",
Now Rodgers, now Alvarez, now Murtaugh and Kinney!
On Newton, on Glover, on Brown and Tagge!
To the top of the scoreboard, to the top of the polls!
Now offense, and defense, and special teams roll!

As nerves before the 'Game of the Century' shake,
When you meet with an obstacle, the direct route take;
So to the corners of the stadium, the jolly man flew,
As though he were hunting for just the right clue;
And then in a heartbeat, Coach heard to his right,
The rustling and bustling of this visiting sprite.

While turning his head and looking to the side,
Coach was greeted with a contagious smile;
Dressed all in red, blazer and fedora just right,
Pants with a sharp crease and shoes shined bright;
Ah, the memories that swirled in that night air,
The history, championships, the games won there.

The eyes how they twinkled! Steps sure and quick,
Turned to Coach with advice that should stick,
Never, ever be afraid to try something new,
And always, always, show the true you;
This is a game, you should always have fun,
But it's a helluva lot more when you have won;
Respect your foes, always give your best shot,
Honor and pride can never be bought;
These are kids you're turning into men,
When they get knocked down, you get them up again;
Teach them to do something and do it right,
Make sure your opponent knows they've been in a fight.

He spoke no more words, but walked into shadows deep,
Mind racing, Coach headed back up for some overdue sleep;
Woke up wondering if he had imagined his guest,
No one around, but ‘twas time to meet the press;
Then a smile across his face grew more and more,
When he saw the red blazer hanging on the door;
And then came a faint voice as though from a story,
"...Not the goal but the game; In the deed the glory"