Published Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 9:32 pm / Updated at 4:44 pm
Football
Shatel: Future is bright for sellout streak

Bear with me, good Nebraskans of 2062. I'm not sure how to do this, where to start.

The 2013 Nebraska football spring game is this Saturday, April 6. To commemorate the new East Stadium addition — that old, run-down slab of seats you're thinking about having replaced — the athletic department is offering 200 time capsules for fans to fill before the game.

They'll bury the capsules under the stairs of the East Stadium entrance. Hopefully, there's a statue of Bob Devaney there now, but that's another story.

It will be interesting to see what folks put into the capsules. Husker hats, jerseys, photos, programs, ticket stubs. A video of the last Nebraska national championship.

Was that the last Nebraska national championship?

The department is asking kids to draw pictures of what they imagine football will look like in 2062. The way the rules are going in 2013, you may see some drawings of tea parties with teddy bears.

I'm going to enter this column into a capsule. With a prediction, to see if it holds up.

But first, I have a few questions for you.

Is Taylor Martinez still playing quarterback for Nebraska?

Did Bo Pelini ever make a Rose Bowl? Did he retire at Nebraska? Or was he retired by Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst?

Did Bo ever hand out the Blackshirts?

Did Nebraska ever win an NCAA tournament game? Sorry, wrong sport.

Did the Big Ten ever expand to 32 schools?

Did the football playoff expand to 64 schools?

Do you travel to Memorial Stadium by bullet train? Or jet pack?

Did they ever put a dome over Memorial Stadium?

Does Nebraska get a National Football League team?

Does Omaha build another baseball stadium or arena?

Do they still have Runzas?

Do you have to take out a loan to buy a season ticket? A second mortgage to make a donation to buy a ticket?

Did they have to attach a PlayStation or plasma TV to every seat in order to keep people coming to games?

Did the sellout streak survive?

OK, here's my prediction. Of course, I won't be around to find out. If I'm still here in 50 years, they'll be using me as a goalpost.

I'll tell you what will be around in 2062: Nebraska's sellout streak.

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Oh sure, it won't be easy. The Streak will have to endure an onslaught of Northwestern, Minnesota, Iowa and Purdue every year. But then, the Streak lasted through Kansas State, Kansas, Iowa State and Baylor all those years. Not to mention Wyoming and Middle Tennessee.

The Streak is a tough, old bird. It's been through the brutal Astro-Bluebonnet and Liberty Bowl years, Bill McCartney, Kansas State clearing out the house in 2003, Bill Callahan, Kevin Cosgrove and Steve Pederson. Don't forget all-red uniforms and black helmets.

Lately, it's surviving a case of the blahs by many Husker fans, who seem less than fired up about the current state of affairs under Pelini. Yes, the Streak will survive Wisconsin 70, Nebraska 31, too.

I know this because the university just opened some 3,000 new seats, and 38 suites, in the East Stadium expansion. The suites were snatched up in a hurry. There were more than 4,000 requests for the new seats. The lucky new seatholders will be chosen not by lottery, but by the amount of their donation.

That's the world we live in in 2013. I don't want to know what it costs to be a fan in 2062.

Do the 4,000 requests seem a bit low? Maybe. Did the athletic department try to draw interest (or awareness) by running a TV commercial advertising new seats? Yeah.

What that tells me is Memorial Stadium is at the top-off point for seats. Tell me, did they ever have to add more in the next 50 years? Considering prices and games available on TV and Nebraska's population numbers, I'd be shocked.

But I do think the Streak is manageable. Did I say it would always be full? That's technically not how you define sellout. In this case, the new 5,000 seat and suite holders are buying the right to not show up. As long as they're forking over money, it's a sellout.

And if, by chance, the Streak is ever in danger, UNL will find a big cigar to come in and write the check to keep it alive. It means that much.

Oh, and if it ever comes to that, the big cigar will be heading a committee to find a new head coach.

Faces and names, coaches and quarterbacks, have come and gone in the last 50 years. And they will change again the next 50. But the one constant rolling through the years is Nebraska passion. For Husker football. For winning.

For some, the games are a social event. For others, about the football. But for all, it's about winning. And always will be.

The fact that Pelini caught heat last year (mostly for bad losses) after a 10-4 season tells you the fire burns bright. The fact that some are worried about the sellout streak ending, about NU becoming irrelevant, means it will never be allowed to become irrelevant.

Then again, you live in the future. Maybe you know different.

All I know is, there could be close to 60,000 fans at the spring game, where the starting quarterback won't play much and the starting I-back won't play at all and a no-name defense will be on display.

If 60,000 fans go to a spring practice, the fire for Big Red football is smoking hot.

By the way, do they still have spring games in 2062? Or did they call it off because the basketball team is at the Final Four?

Contact the writer:

402-444-1025, tom.shatel@owh.com; twitter.com/tomshatelOWH

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>> Video: NU coach Bo Pelini after Wednesday's practice:

Contact the writer: Tom Shatel

tom.shatel@owh.com    |   402-444-1025    |  

Tom Shatel is a sports columnist who covers the city, regional and state scene.

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