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Wisconsin Gets COVID; Nebraska Gets Petulant and Paranoid

Nebraska’s “Greatest Fans” have seemed like anything but great in pushing conspiracy theories.

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When word of Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz testing positive for COVID-19 broke on Sunday evening, it quickly became clear that this Saturday’s game was likely in doubt. When third-stringer Chase Wolf also tested positive, you had to realize that there was a pandemic inside the program. And once Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst got his positive case, Wisconsin’s decision was pretty obvious, especially in light of the state’s worsening outbreak. On Wednesday, Wisconsin’s COVID positivity rate on testing hit a record high of 27.2%.

So let’s cut to the chase: things are bad in Wisconsin right now. And the University of Wisconsin made the only decision they could: shut down the football program for the next week. And the major casualty of that decision? Saturday’s game between Nebraska and Wisconsin.

Yes, it’s unfortunate that Nebraska won’t be able to play this Saturday. I’d love to be able to watch the Huskers this weekend; no doubt you feel the same way. I think all Husker fans are in agreement there.

But what I do NOT understand is the reactions of some Nebraskans to the situation in Wisconsin. Some people think Wisconsin should forfeit the game instead of it being a “no contest”. I don’t understand that at all. The conditions in Wisconsin make it impossible for the Badgers to play this weekend; in fact, I’d prefer that they NOT play under these circumstances, because I don’t want any more Huskers to become infected with this disease. And Big Ten rules make it clear that a game cancelled due to COVID-19 is a “no contest”.

What it’s not is some sort of conspiracy against Nebraska. Yes, some media members (Pat Forde and Desmond Howard, for example) got their facts mixed up back in August and unfairly criticized Nebraska’s position on playing football. But it wasn’t a Big Ten conspiracy against Nebraska. Likewise, it wasn’t a conspiracy when the Big Ten’s eight game schedule retained the matchups against Ohio State and Penn State from the original conference schedule. Those games have been on the schedule all along.

When Nebraska administrators and fans continually complain about a conspiracy that simply doesn’t exist, they look silly and delusional. And it doesn’t help that Nebraska has had losing seasons four out of the last five seasons, either. So you get takes like this:

Nebraska is doing all of this to themselves. Take this petty shot at the Badgers, pointing out that Nebraska’s top three quarterbacks and head coach are still practicing.

Or this now deleted Twitter poll from the Husker Sports Network.

Is Nebraska trying to be the most disliked college football program in the nation? It’s all self-inflected; if we posted our situation to Reddit’s AITA, we’d quickly be told we are the a-hole. We’re making ourselves look bad.

Yes, it’s disappointing that Husker fans will likely have yet another bye week this Saturday, unless Nebraska officials can somehow work out a spur-of-the-moment deal with the Big Ten and another program with a free week, such as Marshall or North Texas. Of course, if you believe there is a conspiracy against Nebraska in the Big Ten, how does making fun of another conference partner’s injury and health status help turn that around?

And that’s the sticking point. If you really believe that the Big Ten is conspiring against Nebraska, what are the options? Some would say return to the Big XII. Well, didn’t Nebraska leave ten years ago for that very reason? And why would Nebraska want to kiss the $20 million each year extra in conference revenue goodbye in order to prostrate ourselves at the feet of Texas? (Oh, and don’t forget those $40 pay-per-view football broadcasts as well!)

2020 really sucks. We’ve got a nasty virus and nasty politics infecting our nation. We don’t need any more nastiness, and the first step is for Nebraska to stop being nasty, whiny and unlikable to the rest of college football.