As I saw Adrian Martinez trotting onto the field after the opening kickoff, I turned to my daughter and exclaimed “HERE WE GO!” Scott Frost’s high tempo offense was about to debut, and after three years of Danny Langsdorf, I was more than ready for this.
Then I saw a guy in a red shirt run onto the field from the southwest corner, wildly waving his arms frantically. Everyone seemed to stop, and then Akron’s players started retreating to the tunnel they had just come through five minutes before. And we could pretty much assume what Butch Hug was trying to say.
And assume was all the fans could do; obviously we were in for a delay. It took about five minutes until we got an announcement that pretty much confirmed what we already assumed and told us absolutely nothing more.
How long would the delay be? We assumed it would be a half-hour of no lightning, because that’s what other groups seem to follow. I waited in my seats for about 15 minutes until I saw a lightning bolt arc behind south stadium, which was enough for me. My daughter was already concerned about the weather during a pregame supper, so I wasn’t about to take any chances. Besides, I wasn’t missing anything on the field...so we headed of the stands.
In the pregame, there was a prerecorded message about things like “no smoking” and “no umbrellas” that mentioned that ushers would advise you where to seek shelter in this situation. When we got to the concourse under north stadium, there was nothing of the sort. So we waited there.
Nothing on the monitors, other than menu prices and generic Husker videos. So I did what everybody else in the stadium was probably doing: tried to bring up a radar image on my phone. And since there were probably about 60,000 phones trying to load radar at the same time, internet access via wifi or cellular pretty much was non-existent.
The lightening delay is one thing, but the real problem is how slow the WIFI is in the press box.— Mike Schaefer (@mikejschaefer) September 2, 2018
Someone reset the damn modem.
Eventually we got enough radar to realize that the main squall would be rolling in around 9 pm. But that was just guessing on our part. If there was any official announcement, I didn’t hear it in the concourse, and they didn’t appear to post anything on Twitter.
Eventually, HuskerVision turned from generic time-killer videos to the Michigan-Notre Dame game, though they periodically cut away during commercials. I get that, but rather than show generic programming, how about an update? Periodically put up the radar on the screen with lightning indicators. Let your fans (the people that paid $4 million for tickets for this game) know what might be happening.
Nebraska officials were in a tough position in this game, but lack of communication was a self-inflicted problem. I’m sure most fans that remained in the stands (and exposed to the lightning) stayed because they wanted to be ready for the game to resume. But if the conditions were too dangerous to allow players to remain on the field, it was too dangerous to allow fans to remain in the stands.
And I’m sure many fans hung around because they weren’t sure how long Nebraska would wait to try and get this game in. Two years ago, Wyoming and Northern Illinois waited until 11:20 pm for storms to clear in a three-overtime game that ended at 3:35 am.
Latest radar imagery shows storms filling in around Lincoln ahead of the strong line with damaging winds.— Matt Serwe KETV (@MattSerweKETV) September 2, 2018
Football will not be played for several hours—it at all—tonight.
Live radar: https://t.co/otajTlqIu8 pic.twitter.com/yDgfn2OKlj
Meteorologists were pretty clear by 8:30 pm that the game wasn’t going to be able to be played Saturday night, so I’m really not sure why the decision took until 10 pm to be made. Especially since these storms didn’t surprise anybody.
I’m telling ya, trying to play football tonight is silly. Even if they get back on the field around 8pm, they might get a quarter done?— Matt Serwe KETV (@MattSerweKETV) September 2, 2018
There are many HOURS of storms possible after 9pm. You can see them lining up to the southwest. pic.twitter.com/sb4O4zh65r
Basically, the hope at kickoff was to get the first half in...until a thundershower popped up to squash that. And when those showers continued to force a delay, the chances of getting the game even started went from slim to none.
Frankly, if I had known much of this around 8 pm, I suspect I would have given up by 8:30 pm, ahead of the severe storm that forced the stands to be cleared around 9:15 pm. (And without functioning wifi, there really wasn’t a way for me to know.)
In fact, I think that Nebraska officials should probably have made that decision at the same time.
Grade for Game Operations: D. They did what they had to, but didn’t do nearly as much as they needed to.
The Tunnel Walk
I was all set to give this year’s version an A+ ... until the actual walk began. The opening sequence with Tom Osborne, Grant Wistrom and Joel Makovicka was amazing. Then Coach Frost appeared, taking the crowd to a frantic level. Great stuff. But a prelude with Sirius seemed awkward, and then Sirius disappeared as Frost and the team appeared on the screens. Some other background music was played, but I had no idea what it was. With the crowd screaming and yelling, it was like Muzak at the supermarket. Whether it was rap, R&B, metal or smooth jazz, I couldn’t tell you. I could only make out a few notes here and there through the crowd noise.
And that’s why Sirius isn’t the problem that critics claim it is. Is it old? (Yes.) Did the Chicago Bulls use it first? (Yes.) But that deep bass is the ONLY track that seems to cut through 90,000 screaming and clapping Husker fans to provide that backdrop. Nothing else has been proposed that can do that.
N O T H I N G
I’m open to more suggestions. But nothing has been suggested that’s powerful enough to handle Husker Power. And until then, I’ll continue to recommend sticking with Sirius. For what it’s worth, the Journal-Star found reactions mixed as well.
And by the way, there were also technical issues. The northwest stadium tower screen was running about a minute behind the others in the stadium. It’s almost as if Facebook was programming that screen. (Wait, that’s not fair. If it was Facebook, it would be Mike Riley’s Iowa tunnel walk finally making it to the screen.)
Grade: B- for that and the thud of a conclusion.
Rescheduling the Game
OK, since Nebraska really should have known by 8 pm that the game couldn’t be played last night, it shouldn’t have been a confusing mess of Fox “Fake News” reports amidst cancellation announcements. (And if Nebraska officials really didn’t know by 8 pm that the game was in major doubt, Bill Moos has to take some serious action with his staff.)
Sunday was never a practical option for this game, in my opinion. I’ll differ with Keith Yaple on our staff because I don’t believe hotel rooms for Saturday night have been available in Lincoln for months. Certainly not for 100 or more members of the Akron traveling party. Any attempt by Nebraska to call hotels this week for Saturday night would have been met with all sorts of sarcastic laughter; when this game was announced for a 7 pm kickoff, I’m sure every hotel room in town was immediately booked by out-of-town Husker fans.
In Omaha? Maybe. But getting Akron back to Omaha in post-game traffic would have taken time. (I got home in west Omaha around 11:40 last night, FWIW.) And if you are insisting on a 10:30 am kickoff, Akron’s players would have maybe had five or six hours of sleep before having to get ready for the game.
That’s not fair to Akron at all. It turns out the weather could have supported an afternoon game, but the forecast was for rain to continue today. But 10:30 am was a ridiculous idea. Could Nebraska have assembled enough staff to operate the stadium on a Sunday morning? I just don’t see it. Mid-afternoon, after you get past church conflicts...maybe. (But that would have bumped the game to BTN instead of FS1.)
It’s really hard for me to criticize Akron for heading for their plane once the game was cancelled. They likely would have had to pay extra to have a plane wait (or return on Sunday after a makeup game), as their charter was supposed to return Saturday night after the game. And where were they supposed to go for the night?
So what are Nebraska’s options? It’s clear from Bill Moos’ statement that Nebraska wants to find a way to play this game. I see three dates: October 27, December 1 and December 8.
October 27 is Nebraska’s bye week. I don’t think Nebraska wants to play 12 straight weeks without a week off, but it’s an option. Finding an opponent available for that week will be difficult; it may require multiple schedule changes to accommodate.
December 1 is the day of the Big Ten championship game. If Nebraska doesn’t play in the Big Ten championship game, this would seem to be the easy choice. Several teams might be available, especially the ones with the Hawai’i exception. Akron as well, if they don’t play in the MAC title game. Iowa State would clearly be the best option for college football fans, but the logistics could be tough to work through. Iowa State had their game against South Dakota State cancelled last night as well. Both schools sold thousands of tickets and are looking for a home game option. Could the two agree to play each other and split the revenue? If that happens, Lincoln would be the most likely option since Memorial Stadium’s capacity is much larger than Jack Trice Stadium’s 61,500 capacity. (It would also be larger than any neutral site option, such as Kansas City or Minneapolis.)
I’ll also throw December 8 into the mix since it’s the day of the Army/Navy game. There are the same opponent options as exist for the 1st, but it eliminates the conflict with the Big Ten and MAC championship games. The one conflict? The Nebraska/Creighton basketball game is the same day. (Of course that’ll be great for Creighton basketball fans going to the game; they can simply wear their blue sweatervest under their Nebraska winter coat.)
When should Nebraska try to reschedule the cancelled game?
This poll is closed
October 27 - Just find someone. Anybody.
December 1 - The B1G Title game is a dream anyway in 2018
December 8 - Give the Jayskers the doubleheader of their dreams.