I have to say a huge 'thank you' to Todd. When Jon experienced his heart attack a little over a week ago, Todd happened to be in Minnesota and immediately swung into action helping Mrs. CN notify people about the situation. When I saw the "Call me - does not matter what time" email, I immediately knew it was bad news. Fortunately, the situation has improved (We got a note from Dear Leader today that he is moving out of intensive care). It really speaks to the quality of people that hang around Corn Nation. There are disagreements and the occasional troll, but I would not trade this place for any other corner of the interwebs. Todd is one of the reasons why.
How did you become a Husker fan?
I became a Husker fan when I went to college at Nebraska in 1981. Prior to that I hated -- HATED! -- Nebraska! I grew up in southwest Iowa except for 18 months in Ames, IA when my dad went to grad school and I LOVED Iowa State. I used to cry all the way back home to Council Bluffs and Oakland from Ames after the Cyclones got their asses kicked. One of the greatest days of my young life was when Iowa State tied Nebraska. I was in the stadium and it was unbelievable! That said, I became a Nebraska Cornhusker because it was my school. My dad became a professor at UNL in 1980 and it became my school when I started there a year later. You know, be true to your school!
If you traveled forward in time and discovered the Huskers never win another conference or national championship again. Would you still cheer for them?
I will always cheer for Nebraska because they are my school, my team. Hell, I cheer for Iowa State and look at all the misery Cyclone fans have endured for decades! I love the Nebraska Cornhuskers and always will. A national title will be great when it happens again, but if I die before they ever win another, they are still my team.
What is your favorite Husker-related memory?
There are a lot of great moments, but two stand out. When Nebraska beat Oklahoma in 1982, me and all my buddies stood on the sidelines ready to storm the field with the other students and there was an incredible amount of electricity in the stadium. That is a memory where I get goosebumps thinking about it! But, Tommie Frazier's run against Florida in 1996 in the Fiesta Bowl is the greatest thing I ever saw watching Nebraska football. My folks were at the game but I was teaching and coaching so I couldn't go. I was in Chariton, Iowa with all of the other football coaches watching the game that night, and of course was the only Nebraska fan in the house. It was amazing to watch, and even all of those anti-Huskers appreciated the incredible athletic feat that it was.
Ranchbabe's note: By now, you have probably gotten used to my usual penchant for finding a clip from the referenced memory and including it here. In a striking bit of irony, my search turned up a certain Corn Nation Post "1982 Nebraska-Oklahoma" in which Dear Leader refers to it as a "near death experience" and he is probably not wrong. I think we have documented at least two lives for Jon. Seven left to go, and if he continues to expend them at a rate of one every 30 years...he will outlive all of us...
A snippet from Jon's usual brilliant writing.
My personal philosophy is that when you’re done, you’re done, God takes you whether 100 people are stepping on you or you’re sitting at home watching the game on your not-burning couch. Let the actuarials determine the odds, but they can be damned, I have God on my side.
Now, for some highlights from the actual game -the "bounce rooskie" which might be the drunk uncle of Black 41 reverse flash...
What is your most prized piece of Husker gear or memorabilia?
My most prized Husker possession is Matt Hooper's baseball uniform. He wasn't my favorite player, but his jersey fit! I am just as much a Nebraska baseball and wresting fan as I am a football fan, and a lot of my "favorite" Husker moments aren't with the football team. For example, sleeping on the street waiting in line for tickets to the NCAA regional game vs. Rice at Buck Belzer is a great memory. My dad, who had all kinds of baseball connections, couldn't get me a ticket, so I camped out with a few hundred other folks to get a ticket!
Do you have any "superstitions" or routines that you have to do on game day? How or why did that particular routine/superstition evolve?
No superstitions, other than I prefer to watch games alone or only with my immediate family. I want to focus on the game. I don't want any distractions.
Among your family and friends, who is the most die-hard Husker fan? What makes you say that?
You know, I have a lot of very good friends that are solid Nebraska Cornhusker fans, but those I know best are not fanatical. They are loyal and "stick together through all kinds of weather" but they are not as screwed up as some of the people who are fanatical. I worry about those kinds of folks because sports cannot dictate one's self-worth or impact one's emotions as much as it does. Because a person gets sick to the stomach or can't sleep for a week because their team gets beat doesn't make them a bigger or better fan than me. It means they need to take a close look at the person they have become!
I've read and studied a lot of sport psychology and social aspects of sport and frankly, this obsession that our country has with sport is crazy, and the craziest are those people that go on these ridiculous rants on blogs and say horrible things about coaches and players when things are not going in the right direction. Corn Nation is a great community, but the fact that some of the posters think that they know more about the game or that they are better coaches than Bo Pelini, Bill Callahan, or any of their assistants are delusional! And the fact that in the off season grown men, and maybe some women, take on a stalker persona with this recruiting business is laughable!
I work with 17 and 18 year old kids a minimum of 180 days a year and have done so for 30 years. They may be big and fast and incredibly gifted athletic specimens, but they are 17 and 18 year old kids with the same fears, anxieties, and maturity of other kids their age!
What is something non-Husker related about you that people here at CornNation would be surprised or interested to know?
It's pretty hard to say what other people would find interesting about me. Most know that Jon and I are buddies back to our college days. I guess that one bit of trivia is that when I student taught at Lefler Middle School, Tom Osborne's youngest daughter, Suzi, was one of my students! And, he came and watched the tail end of a basketball game that she played. I was a college athlete, a D-1 wrestler at the University of Montana, before I transferred to Nebraska after I realized that I did not have the level of passion and commitment to excel in college wrestling. I have coached since 1982 and continue to do so, which is why I get ticked at the criticism that posters level at coaches. Some claim to have coached, but unless you have coached at the same level as D-1 coaches, you don't have a clue! I have been fortunate to spend time with a lot of D-1 coaches, picking their brains with hundreds of questions and I don't care who you are talking about, these guys and gals know so much more about a sport than those of us who have never been there it isn't even close.
What are you looking forward to the most this upcoming season? What are you most worried about?
I am looking forward to seeing the fellas strap it up and get after it this year. I just love the game and I really want to see the team play with passion and a defense play with bad intentions when they meet the guy with the ball. Actually, I want to see what the team can do when the game is simplified for them. Game after game Bo talked about poor execution. It became a joke. If they couldn't execute, why weren't things simplified? It sounds like this staff is doing that. What worries me is that the team with not transition quick enough to be hitting on enough cylinders to beat BYU. I have tremendous faith in Mike Riley and was a fan of his years ago. I believe he will put together very strong football teams at Nebraska. I just hope that they are good enough fast enough to beat BYU. A good positive start is important.
Will Armstrong's completion % improve and about where do you think it will end up (%)?
Armstrong's completion percentage will improve, but I have no idea where it will end up.
Will we get the monkey....errrr badger....off our backs this year and beat Wisconsin? What is the score?
Yes, Nebraska will get the badger of it's back. I'll throw out 24-17.
Which freshman (true or redshirt) has the biggest impact on the Blackshirts?
I think the long snapper, Jordan Ober will have the biggest impact of the freshmen this year. He better! A scholarship to a long snapper doesn't happen very often so he better make an impact!
Thank you Todd for letting us get to know you better! Now, we need those incriminating stories about Dear Leader....