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Official Husker Locker Blog

2009 Aug 24

50 Husker Fans, 50 States: A Husker Fan in Dixie Land


By HuskerLocker

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The next in our series of 50 Husker Fans, 50 States comes us to via Wade Williams, who grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, and yet has been a Big Red fan all of his life!

Known as 0510914D on our site, Wade brings a tale of what it really means to be a Nebraskan, and how it’s about a spirit, and not just where you live. It’s about fathers and sons, integrity, a team attitude and appreciating the leaders of the program, like Tom Osborne. We think you’ll enjoy his moving comments as much as we did.

And remember: If you want to be a part of the fun, or know someone who might be, just email us at sam@ne.statepaper.com , and we’ll shoot out the questions – leave the Big Red light on for you.

Go Big Red!

Q: Tell us a little of your personal history as a Husker fan. Were you born into the Big Red Nation? Did you attend school there? Just decided to follow the program from afar? Did you grow up in Nebraska? How did you get to living where you are today?

A: My late father was a graduate of the University of Nebraska so yes, I was born into Big Red Nation. I did not attend school there as I was born and raised in Mississippi, and at 18 years old out of high school it was a bit too far away from home for my comfort zone. But because of my dad I grew up watching the Huskers and being a huge fan. He was so passionate about it and about the work ethic and the quality of the people in Nebraska, especially Tom Osborne. With those kinds of things being instilled in me at such an early age, it was absolutely impossible not to be a huge Nebraska football and Tom Osborne fan. It's a little like being born into the mafia. The difference is, you stay because you want to.

How hard, or easy, is it to follow the Huskers from where you live? Do you watch the games at home? Listen on the radio? Use the internet? Is there a “watch site” in town you like to frequent? Also: How many Husker fans are there in your area?

I was born in 1970 and up until about the early 90s we didn't get too many Nebraska games on TV in our area. In fact, the typical weekend consisted of about 3-5 games on TV and I guess that was pretty much the way it was with the whole country at the time. We have come along way since then haven't we? Now, everyone all over the country can literally watch college football games from morning to midnight. I watch all the games that are on and if it is a pay-per view game I buy it every time as I am currently batting 1.000 on those. There are three this year and I will again be buying all of them. I can't wait!

I can remember back in the early 1980's when Huskers Illustrated magazine was this little tiny thing about the size of a TV guide. Back then, with no internet, that was the only information we could get on the Huskers and when it arrived I read it cover to cover without putting it down. Unfortunately, we don't have any watch sites in the Jackson, Mississippi area that I am aware of. As far as the number of fans in my area goes I would say it's miniscule but the few who see my license plate frame always honk and acknowledge their fellow Big Red faithful.

How often do you get back for games? What’s the last game you’ve been to? How has the Husker experience changed over the years? Will Nebraska be playing a game in your area any time soon?

The last time I saw a game in Lincoln was the Pigskin Classic against TCU in 2001. It was the first time my wife had ever been to Lincoln and while not a sports fan, she really enjoyed herself at the game. How could she not? It's Nebraska and there's no place like Nebraska! The last game I went to was when we played Southern Mississippi in Hattiesbur. I'd have to say that's probably the smallest stadium Nebraska has ever played in but it was great for me as that is only about 90 minutes from where I live. We are not scheduled to play a game in my area anytime too soon, unfortunately!

What’s the predominant college or pro team in your area? How is that fan base similar or different to Nebraska’s fan base? Hear a lot of trash talk about the Big 12, or anything like that? Give us an example of how Nebraska fans might be the same or different from some of the fans in your area.

Well, there are 3 Division I (sorry, I'm a traditionalist) schools in Mississippi which are Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Southern Mississippi, so fans are spread out among those as well as a smattering of fans from other SEC schools like LSU, Georgia, Auburn, Alabama and a few Florida State and Texas fans as well. The closest pro team that fans identify with and have for years is the New Orleans Saints.

In my opinion, the fan base of any one of the three universities here is nothing like the Nebraska fan base at all. In fact, there simply isn't a fan base anywhere in the country that is similar to Nebraska's. I don't say that because the fans are so much better, although they are in many, many cases but rather because the saying, "there's no place like Nebraska," is true. Its uniqueness is in the fact that it's the only Division school in the entire state and therefore, the population is not splintered into different fan bases for different teams fighting for supremacy over the same territory.

I do hear some trash talk about the Big 12 because that's just SEC fan for you but for the most part, they realize that pretty much year in and year out, the two best conferences are the SEC and the Big 12. Also, when they realize I am a Nebraska fan they don't say too much because despite our recent struggles, they remember all too well how Nebraska beat their league’s elite regularly in bowl games.

As far as an example of how NU fans might be the same or different from some of the fans in my area I would have to say that it's just an entirely different dynamic altogether. Where I'm from the fans spend a lot of their time arguing amongst themselves over stupid things and making baseless predictions about the upcoming year. They simply don't comprehend that the people of Nebraska live and die with the Huskers and that the morale of pretty much an entire state is dependent on the performance of a football team. Not necessarily whether they win or lose, although we do much prefer to win, but rather on whether or not the team plays with the kind of effort, grit, heart, determination and perseverance that makes up the majority of the population in the state. Therein lies the difference. NU fans look out onto the field and see an extension of themselves, a kind of extended family, and they want that part of their family to play in a way that represents them honorably, win or lose. The fans in my area and really, any other part of the country, look out onto the field and they see 70-80 kids, strangers who are there to entertain them for a few hours and if they lose they would just as soon cuss them as anything. There's no comparison!

What’s one or two unique things about where you live? What makes it stand apart from other places?

Well, if you like fried food you are in the right place and we have some of if not the most beautiful women in the country. If anyone reading this has never been to an Ole Miss game in Oxford, you need to go one time. Go tailgate in the Grove and you will see more gorgeous women in 2-3 hours before the game than you will for the rest of the year. I guarantee you that! Just ask the guys on the College Gameday crew, they know exactly what I'm talking about.

Give us one or two of your favorite Husker memories. They can be from any time period.

Well, I can remember going to the NU vs. WSU game in Lincoln with my dad during the 1995 season, a 35-21 Husker victory in which a freshman by the name of Ahman Green happened to have a pretty darn good game. For me this was really special because despite being 24 years old at the time, I had never been to a game in Lincoln before. My dad was ill with cancer and here we were together watching our beloved team in person. It was the greatest experience in the world and I was really glad we got to do that as he would pass away less than two years later.

Another thing that I'll never forget goes back to the 1994 season. It was the night of the national championship game in Miami and dad was sick and I went over to the house to watch the game with him. Early in the third quarter we both started kind of getting that sinking feeling of, here we go again syndrome, when Miami made it 17-7 with a TD. When it was all over and Nebraska had finally done it for Osborne (although we got robbed the year before by the officials against FSU) I saw my dad's eyes tear up and I didn't even need to say anything. Although he was extremely happy that NU had just won the title, those tears were for Tom Osborne, a man he had never met, yet loved and admired so much so that his success meant that much to him. My dad got to see the back to back titles and I am eternally grateful for that. Unfortunately, he didn't make it for the 1997 championship. I miss him a lot, but during football season, when I'm watching the game and I'm jumping around cheering by myself, I know he's there with me. I know he's saving me a good seat up in heaven because we are definitely going to all of the games then.

Besides Husker football, what other Husker sports do you like to follow? How do you follow them?

I enjoy the men’s basketball team, especially now that Doc Sadler is the coach and it's much more exciting to watch. I think he's going to do good things at Nebraska. I don't really follow college baseball too much, but I keep up with how they are doing as well as the women’s volleyball team.

Feel free to add anything you like. It can be a story, an anecdote, a saying, or a simple “Go Big Red!”

I got to meet Osborne one time in Jackson, of all places. He was there to speak at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes luncheon and this was shortly after my father had passed away. I got in line and waited to shake his hand. I didn't realize that he was a much more physically imposing person than what you imagine just seeing him on TV or from afar. Big hands, a firm shake, and warm smile with what seemed like the most sincere, genuine eyes I had ever looked into. I got to tell him about my father and his reaction to the end of that Miami game, how much it meant to him that Osborne had gotten the championships and had the success that he deserved. It was interesting because even though I had never met the man before, it felt like I had known him all my life.

To this day, it still bothers me how the media and fans of other schools threw him under the bus for the way he handled the Lawrence Phillips situation. I know he is a Christian man and did what he thought was right and in the best interest of a young man’s future. It was not about personal gain but that was the way it was portrayed of course. I think the team pretty much proved during the six games he was suspended that they didn't need Lawrence Phillips, Lawrence Phillips needed Nebraska, and apparently a whole lot of psychiatric help as well.
Osborne said something once that I'll never forget because it really is so true and it's a valuable life lesson as well: "It's interesting to me how quick people are to formulate opinions based on very few of the facts." I immediately became more cognizant of this fact and can just about bet you that if you pay attention, you can point to an example of this from the people around you at work every single day of your life. It's so very good to have T.O. back at Nebraska where he belongs.


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Tags: 50 husker fans 50 states, tom osborne, ahman green

Comments (3)

Profile image for stoltzdl

Was a Husker fan club started on the Gulf Coast? We've just arrived in Pascagoula and are die-hard Husker fans. We need to be able to cheer for Big Red! Looking for fellow fans here along the Gulf Coast.

– Aug 12, 2012 at 10:49 pm

Profile image for Cornbred

Awesome to hear the experiences of another husker fan in MS! True that they are hard to find down here, but I have found also that the college football fans here in Meridian where I live a very respectfull of Nebraska and I think are hoping for us to get back to our winning ways again. We need to form a Husker fan club in MS! GBR!

– Aug 25, 2009 at 1:23 pm

Profile image for mississippihusker

Great story,welcome to Mississippi,from another HUSKER fan from OLIVE BRANCH, Miss.. Fan by marriage,we do about 4 games a year. The rest, TV. GBR

– Aug 25, 2009 at 7:58 am

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