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Get To Know the CornNation Staff: Jon Johnston

The GTKtCNS finale focuses on Mr. CN himself. Jon is why you are here. Reading this article. On this website. Seriously, this place would not exist without him.

Jon Johnston

Not only is Jon a great writer, but also an excellent photographer. He has a penchant for cool family photos, don't you think? Running this place is a pretty thankless job at times, so I will make sure to sneak in a quick 'thank you' now. The mix of information/news and humor/entertainment is what originally brought me to this site and keeps me coming back. Be sure to follow Dear Leader on Twitter @cornnation

How did you become a Husker fan?

Jon: Born in Curtis, Nebraska, about 35 miles south of North Platte. I didn’t realize the depth of my Husker fandom until 1976, when I was abducted by aliens while hunting alone outside of Farnam.

I was taken aboard a craft, strapped to a chair, probed, and had two devices I can only describe as toilet plungers with wires attached to them stuck to the sides of my head. The aliens attempted to remove my memories, I assume, to replace them with something more compliant to their wishes. They failed, their hideous machine exploding, because I kept replaying Johnny the Jet’s touchdown return in the Game of the Century while hearing Lyle Bremser’s "Man, Woman and Child" call in my mind. Their craft landed, ejected me near Farnam and I made my way home.

Or so I’ve been told.

Honestly, I’m not sure if it was a real alien craft or a covert government operation made to look like an alien craft, the purpose of their experimentation unknown. Many of my memories are jumbled. Each day I wake up, roll over, and think "is this my real wife?", and then start my day as if everything is normal. (My wife informs me that if she were a real government agent, she would have a better man because "I am old and icky and scratched up." That is a direct quote.)

Then again, it could have been my move to Minnesota in 1987 that solidified my love for Husker football. Imaging moving to a state where college football is nearly non-existent (only a few true believers, and most of them from out of state) and people walk around never making eye contact with strangers, but only looking at their shoes. I continue to wonder if this place is a covert government experiment.

While I struggle daily to exist, I know one thing is consistent, real, and that’s my love for Husker football.

If you traveled forward in time and learned that the Huskers never win a Big Ten title or a national title ever again - would you still cheer for them?

Jon: I have traveled forward in time and I can tell you that you don’t have to worry about this question. Everything else, well, let’s just say things won’t be what you think they are. That, and this November, be careful about what you’re doing in the stock market.

What is your favorite Husker-related memory?

Jon: I don’t have a "favorite" of anything. I’ve already mentioned Johnny the Jet. Next up would be the two Corey Schlesinger runs against Miami because that was the greatest game Tom Osborne ever coached - I was here in my same house I’m sitting in right now.

Ranchbabe's note: Holy moly! Man! Woman! And Child!......[you know the rest]

Next up, the 1994 18-16 loss against Florida State. Underdogs by 17.5 points. Expected to be slaughtered by everyone. I remember Lee Corso making fun of our secondary. Early in the game Abdul Muhammad gets taken out by FSU, turns out he had three cracked ribs and a lacerated liver. On the next series (I’m going off memory here), a Nebraska DB (Barron Miles, maybe) destroys a FSU receiver - lights him up like the 4th of July. It was a sign that we were different, that we weren’t going to lie down for those sunsabitchin’ Florida teams anymore. We outplayed them that entire game. A phantom penalty on a block. A William Floyd fumble that was ruled a touchdown. It was a great game that has never been considered one of the greatest games because the officials screwed us so badly. (Go to and search for "1994 orange bowl" and notice what suggestions come up.)

When Byron Bennett lined up to try that last field goal, I looked at my (alleged) wife and said, "It doesn’t matter if he makes this or not", to which she replied, "you’re drunk". I knew the next week people would be talking about Nebraska, even though FSU won. And I knew that things had changed. You could see it as plainly as you could see a railroad locomotive coming down the track.

What is your most prized piece of Husker gear or memorabilia?

Jon: I don’t collect things. I probably could have a fairly decent Husker collection, but, really, it’s just stuff. And when you get more stuff, you have to take care of it. You have to clean it, and then you worry about it. If you move… well, you’re not going to move, are you? And if you decided to run away from your life, you’d say "I can’t do that, what about my stuff?", and so you are trapped. And when you expire, your family has to deal with all your stuff, and if you love them, why would you do that to them?

So the hell with stuff. I don’t need a lot of stuff. Plus there’s all that time looking for implanted listening devices.

I do have a few things. I have some signed footballs. But I have a signed Lawrence Phillips jersey…  and I suppose that’s pretty rare, so regardless of what happened with him, that’s probably my favorite.

Do you have any "superstitions" or routines that you have to do on game day?

Jon: First, I sweep the room for listening devices. Then I swear so much I embarrass sailors. My kids don’t swear much. They had to rebel against something, right?

Among your family and friends, who is the most die-hard Husker fan? What makes you say that?

Jon: Probably community member Todd Wolverton. I’ve known him since college, and he calls me frequently to discuss marital issues and Husker football. I’ve been wondering for a while now if he’s really just another one keeping an eye on me.

What is something non-Husker related about you that people here at CornNation would be surprised or interested to know?

Jon: I’ve been writing for here for nearly nine years. I’m not sure what else to say… hmm..

Well, my mother and I played dances during my teenage years. She was the DJ and I set up the big badass sound equipment (not an exaggeration). We played weddings, bars, homecoming dances, proms, you name it.

She loved music. We had thousands of albums and 45s.

When punk rock came out, she said "This is going to change music forever". We drove to Lincoln, went to Dirt Cheap records and she spent $350 on nothing but punk rock. She bought "She Got Fucked", a 45, "for the title", she said. I thought she was nuts. One night she was gone and I was setting up a new light system to go with the sound system, and I put on "Never Mind the Bullocks" by the Sex Pistols. I loved it, but I couldn’t tell her I loved it, because I was a teenager.

And you all wonder why I’m the person I am now.

You’re on an island with the CN Staff. Who do you kill and eat first?

Jon: I used to think it was Brian because he’s the biggest challenge to my supremacy here, but after reading Ryan’s answers to these questions it’s undoubtedly him. Jealousy, envy, take your pick. He’s gotten to travel the world, interview all sorts of people, what a bastard. I would make it quiet and painless, and the other guys would say "Where did you get this meat? It’s sweet at first with a really bitter aftertaste." (Notice they wouldn’t say "Hey, where’s Ryan?")

I would only smile and think, "Yes, that’s Tweedy.... seasoned with bitterness."

What one thing about the Mike Riley regime has stuck out most to you so far?

Jon: A Prius, yoga, and that he rides a bike to work. I used to get disgusted when people would say that "Bo Pelini hired his buddies", but in a lot of ways, it looks like he did just that when you compare overall experience between his staff and Mike Riley’s.

Right out of the gate Riley’s staff has been recruiting without fear, and really, without excuses. That’s just beautiful.


ICYMI: We all like to talk about Lavonte David and Rex Burkhead and their role in "The Comeback" against Ohio State in 2011. We here at CN know the real hero was Jon and this f-bomb filled rant.

Jon also learned, the hard way to respect the habenero.