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Husker Fan Fiction: Shrine of St. RunTheDangBall

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Football is almost here. Rather than subject you to oddball rankings or speculative garbage, I decided to just make stuff up.

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Nebraska V Washington

In case the title did not make it clear, this is a work of fiction, however the historical references to most players are true. At the end, there is a writing prompt where you, the Corn Nation community, get to finish the story.

Joel Makovicka closed the book and turned to face the crowd. "That concludes today’s service. Gooooooo Biiiiiiiiig Reeeeeeeeeeddd!"

"GO! BIG! RED!" the crowd responded.

It was a perfect summer day in Nebraska in the year 2020. More than a thousand people, of all ages, sat in the open air amphitheater near Memorial Stadium. Every last one was wearing red, excuse me, scarlet.

"I do have a few announcements", Makovicka continued. "Tuesday’s film study has been moved from 8 p.m. to 7. If you need extra copies of the study guide, they are available for $5 at the ticket office." He paused, and then flashed a large smile, "And we just received word this morning that Andy Janovich will be here to give the sermon during Denver’s bye week in November."

The entire crowd applauded. Two teenage girls barely suppressed squeals of delight as they looked at each other and kicked their feet in excitement. Some of the boys looked at their arms and unconsciously starting flexing.

The familiar music of Hail Varsity started and Joel walked past the crowd to take up his place near the bronze bust of Tom Rathman where he greeted everyone as they were ushered out each Sunday. He looked around at the various monuments to Husker fullbacks for whom the Shrine of St. RunTheDangBall had been built.

The championship fullbacks had their own alcove near the front of the shrine. Their stone statues a sturdy testament to the selfless blockers that powered the Devaney and Osborne ground attacks to national titles: Bill Olds, Cory Schlesinger, Jeff Makovicka, and Joel Makovicka.

The All-Americans had a special spot too, George Sauer and Sam Francis both played in the 1930’s and their statues flanked the shrine’s main entrance like two lions ready to spring into action.

Fans who trekked to the top row of the North Stadium at Memorial could look over the shrine. Knowledgeable viewers immediately spotted the assortment of statues which were laid out to diagram the 34/36 trap. The pathways were the "arrows" indicating the various ways the play could be deployed. The fullbacks honored in this section were mostly all-conference honorees. Some of those included:

Bill "Thunder" Thornton (1960-62) who was Nebraska’s first black football captain and Tony Davis (1973-75) who ended his college career as Nebraska’s all-time leading rusher. The stops for Roger Craig and Frank Solich were always crowded with onlookers.

There were more, Andra Franklin (1977-80), Dane Todd (2003-06) and Janovich (12-15). Of course, no one should forget Dick Davis (1966-68), who reportedly still holds Nebraska’s career records for carries in a season and career by a fullback.

One was more famous for non-football exploits. Marvin "Red" Layton was only on the Husker football roster in 1921. He doubled as a hurdler on the track team and later stowed away on the ship carrying the 1924 U.S. National team to the Olympics in Paris. For his efforts, he was rewarded with a spot as an alternate for the 400 meter hurdles.

A nearby man remarked, "All these fancy spread offense devotees should come here for a day. They could learn a lot about REAL football".

Joel smiled inwardly. There is no where else a shrine like this could be built but Nebraska. Husker fullbacks occupy a special place in the rich history of Big Red football. Only in Nebraska did running backs get ‘promoted’ to this seemingly inglorious role when they were good enough. Only in Nebraska did fans give equal notice to the men who paved the way for I.M. Hipps, Calvin Jones, and Ahman Green.

To think, this whole monument came about just a few years ago. It started as an ordinary game day in Lincoln, but ended as one where the Husker running game added another chapter to its already legendary history book.

No one expected it, but what happened that day may very well have saved the Husker season.....

——

Alright Corn Nation, give me your best shot at what happened next that led to the creation of the Shrine of St. RunTheDangBall. Perhaps a star was born or perhaps a blue-collar group of non-stars came together in a way that made Husker hearts proud.

You can come up with the entire narrative in your comment or just leave a sentence or two and let the next commenter add more, with the next commenter adding more, etc. (just like those story-building activities you did in grade school). Remember, it does not have to be realistic. This is fan fiction after all. (Just keep it relatively clean and non-political please).