Monday, December 27, 2010

Bay Area Huskers E-News 12/22/10

Merry Christmas Bay Area Husker Fans!

We're only a week away from the Holiday Bowl. The University is having a tough time selling their allotment of tickets for the game (see article below). Don't know how many of you took advantage of the Tickets for Heroes promo they did earlier in the week, but one of the Randy York articles below has a pitch from players and coaches to donate tix to the military folks in San Diego that want to attend the game and root for the Huskers!

There is a great article about the new GROW BIG RED program Osborne has started to build on the success of previous farmer support for Husker athletics. It looks like the Big Ten has a little egg on its face for their naming system for the new divisions and is going to rethink the whole thing in the next couple of months. And there is a little humor at the end courtesy of an old Navy friend. Enjoy!

Go Big Red (Santa Claus)!

Here are some Holiday Websites to check out this weekend!

Here's a recent YouTube offering called "A Digital Christmas"...hilarious (and very Silicon Valley) definitely have to appreciate all the Google, FaceBook, Texting and other Social Networking technologies in the area to understand this fast paced video...

My personal favorite...a great collection of Calvin and Hobbes Snowman Cartoons!

NORAD's Santa Tracking (for all those young at heart who want to still believe)...

Christmas Countdown (for the youngsters who can't wait)...

And this is probably my favorite piece of Christmas music...enjoy!
Celine Dion's version of "O' Holy Night"...inspiring! Turn up the sound...

On a more serious note, please take the time to remember the true meaning of this blessed holiday, and please say a prayer for those on watch around the world who are protecting our freedom to worship and our ability to celebrate the season. May they come home safely, and with honor, to eventually enjoy a "belated holiday" with their families.


Lincoln - The Nebraska Cornhuskers continued to prepare for the Holiday Bowl on Friday afternoon, as they practiced in shells and helmets inside the Hawks Championship Center. After practice Head Coach Bo Pelini spoke about a variety of topics concerning his team's practice schedule, the upcoming game and Washington quarterback Jake Locker.

Pelini commented on how great the attitude is for the Huskers, saying, "They're upbeat. They're excited. They've been practicing well and there's been great tempo. That's all you can ask for."

The Huskies have won three straight games to become bowl eligible, including a comeback victory against in-state rival Washington State in the Apple Cup.

"They've gotten better," said Coach Pelini. "They're a lot better football team than when we saw them in September. They're very capable. They have momentum going into the bowl game. It will be a big challenge for us."

In September's 56-21 win over the Huskies, the Blackshirts held Locker to a 4-20 day with 71 yards passing and two interceptions. Pelini believes Locker will have extra motivation to come out and play well.

"I would think so. He's a good football player and they've gotten better as a football team. Give them credit for it. We'll be ready."

Pelini said the Huskers will use some of the same strategy they used in the earlier matchup.

"There are some things that will be similar and there will be some things that will be different. It goes well beyond Jake Locker," commented Pelini. "They're a good football team. They got some good players. It will be a challenge for us."

A win in the Holiday Bowl would be Pelini's 30th win at Nebraska. The Huskers will practice Saturday morning before getting some time off and regrouping as a team Dec. 24. The Holiday Bowl will kick off at 7 p.m. PST on Dec. 30 on ESPN.


Senior Pierre Allen has accepted an invitation to play in the East-West Shrine Game. The 86th game will be held in Orlando, Fla., on Jan. 22, 2011 at 3 p.m. CST with television coverage provided by the NFL Network.

Allen was a 2010 first-team All-Big 12 selection by the league coaches after he totaled 57 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 3 ½ sacks and a conference-leading 13 quarterback hurries. The 6-5 defensive end from Denver, Colo., will make his 39th career start against Washington in the Holiday Bowl.

"The East-West Shrine Game has always fielded players among college football's best," said East-West Shrine Game Executive Director Harold Richardson. "With all 32 NFL teams represented by GMs, coaches and scouts during game week, our players have the terrific opportunity to showcase their talents and get their first glimpse of life in the NFL ... 'Just Like on Sunday.'"

Allen has helped Nebraska rank among the nation's top defenses this fall. NU enters the Holiday Bowl ranked 10th nationally in total defense, eighth in scoring defense and fifth in both pass efficiency defense and passing yards allowed. Allen has 35 career tackles for loss, just three outside of the Nebraska career top 10, and his 166 career tackles put him in the top 50 on the Nebraska career list.

Allen joins an elite list of football greats, such as John Elway, Tom Brady, Brett Favre, and 62 NFL Hall of Famers, who have played in the East-West Shrine Game, America's longest-running college all-star football game.

For more information about the East-West Shrine Game, please visit


CHICAGO -- Jim Delany has spent more than two decades as commissioner of the Big Ten, overseeing two conference expansions and the formation of the Big Ten Network.

None of it prepared him for the overwhelmingly negative reaction to the conference's new division names.

Leaders Division

Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin

Legends Division

Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern

Delany said during an interview with WGN AM-720 in Chicago on Thursday that the names Legends and Leaders were picked to highlight the conference's rich history, and that "to a great extent it's fallen on deaf ears." Many fans have instead mocked the names and asked officials to reconsider, which Delany said could happen after the first of the year.

"I think we have enough experience with names, and expansion and development of divisions, to know that you never, rarely, get 90 percent approval rating," Delany said during the interview. "But to get a 90 percent non-approval rating was, you know, really surprising."

The league will be split into two divisions beginning next season, when Nebraska becomes the 12th member. The Huskers will be joined by Northwestern, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota and Iowa in the Legends Division. Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin will comprise the Leaders Division.

At least, assuming those are still the names by then.

"We want to breathe a little bit," Delany said. "I don't think you make a judgment in 48 hours or 72 hours. Eventually we're going to have to address the issue of whether or not it's sustainable, but I don't think that's an issue for today."

Delany said the conference chose the divisions based on parity, rather than geography, which made naming them East-West or North-South impractical. The Big Ten also considered using names of historic players or coaches, but Delany said that would have been "too limiting."

The commissioner also said there was little consideration given to changing the conference name from the Big Ten, unlike in 1990, when Penn State became the 11th member.

Delany said university faculty, presidents and alumni supported keeping "Big Ten" and that it represents a brand rather than the number of institutions. The name change also would have affected the branding of the Big Ten Network, which launched in 2007.

"It's humbling, to say the least, because we're trying to build fan bases, not push them away," Delany said of the uproar caused by the new division names. "I was surprised. I've been around this business a long time, and it's one of the more surprising things."


Apathy for the Holiday Bowl matchup with Washington has forced Nebraska to dig deep for ways to spur ticket sales.

This week, Nebraska offered a pair of free basketball tickets to anyone who buys tickets to the bowl game in San Diego on Dec. 30. The school also encouraged fans to buy tickets even if they don’t want to go — they can instead be donated to active military personnel in Southern California.


NU ticket office: 800-8BIGRED or 402-472-3111.

Nebraska had sold just under 7,500 of its 11,000-ticket allotment as of Tuesday, said Holly Adam, assistant athletic director for ticketing. Since the school is contractually obligated to buy unsold tickets at $60 apiece, that meant it owed about $210,000.

“That’s why we’re trying so hard to be creative,” Adam said.

Washington, on the other hand, has almost sold out its allotment, athletic department spokesman Jeff Bechthold said. He said his school, which is bowl eligible for the first time since 2002, is selling only to season-ticket holders.

Nebraska fans, known throughout college football for traveling well to see Husker bowl games, aren’t as eager this year.

For starters, the matchup isn’t new. An estimated 20,000 Big Red fans traveled to Seattle in September to see the Cornhuskers beat Washington 56-21, and the teams will play again next season in Lincoln.

A lot of Nebraska fans also went to Dallas to watch the Huskers lose to Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game. And the Huskers played in the Holiday Bowl last year, too, beating Arizona 33-0.

Another factor is the destination, beautiful as it may be. Flights to San Diego from Omaha and Lincoln aren’t cheap.

Initially, it looked as if Nebraska would go to the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Ariz., and play future Big Ten border rival Iowa.

But the Insight bowl officials chose Missouri over Nebraska, so the Holiday Bowl jumped at the chance to land the Huskers and their fans. Under Pac-10 bowl guidelines, the Holiday Bowl was obligated to take Washington (6-6) because it was the only remaining bowl-eligible team from that conference.

Nebraska ticket sales might be even worse if the school hadn’t pre-sold 5,000 tickets before the bowl and opponent were known, Adam said.

“We didn’t think we’d go back to the same place,” she said. “A different opponent might have helped us draw more interest.”

Ticket sales slowed to a trickle last week, and Adam said school officials brainstormed to get things going again.

The standard $25 handling fee on bowl game ticket orders was waived. Starting Wednesday, the handling fee will be $10 through game day. The “Holiday Bowl Blitz” promotion ran Monday and Tuesday, promising two free tickets to the Jan. 8 basketball game against Iowa State with every bowl ticket order.

Holiday Bowl Executive Director Bruce Binkowski said he anticipates paid attendance of more than 60,000 at Qualcomm Stadium, which will be configured to seat 66,000.

Some 30,000 tickets are pre-sold in San Diego, he said, and about 7,000 tickets have been sold locally since the matchup was announced.

“It certainly doesn’t have the buzz of last year because Nebraska is back for the second straight year and Washington is coming in with a 6-6 record,” Binkowski said. “We do know there is a big buzz in Washington and they’re fired up and coming down here.”

Ticket brokers aren’t seeing much demand for the game, said Chad Carr of Ticket Express in Omaha.

Seats in the end zones or corners are priced as low as $42 on online broker websites, $18 below face value for tickets sold through the schools and $28 below face value for tickets sold through other outlets. Shipping and handling fees that go along with buying from brokers will reduce some of that savings.

Carr said some people have called looking for premium seats between the goal lines. But Nebraska fans he knows who have traveled in the past seem content to watch this game on TV and look ahead to the 2011 season.

“If there’s a secondary market (for tickets),” Carr said, “I’d like someone to tell me where it is.”


Randy York's N-Sider

If you've thought about buying Holiday Bowl tickets and donating them to active military members in the Huskers for Heroes program Monday, Tuesday or beyond, we have five stories that will help you make and reinforce that decision.

The first story is from senior Tyrone "Sarge" Fahie, Nebraska's oldest walk-on who spent 3½ years supporting the U.S. Navy's elite Sea, Air, Land (SEAL) teams that train for special missions at the Coronado Amphibious Base in San Diego.

The second story is from Brandon Rigoni, a former Husker walk-on, captain and now assistant strength coach who vomited more than once trying to navigate the Navy Seal obstacle course at last year's Holiday Bowl. He's eager to give it another try next week.

The third story is from Anthony West, a senior who was born in San Diego and lived his whole life there. He's worn a Blackshirt and knows what it means for active military members to get the chance to see Nebraska play Washington in the 2010 Holiday Bowl.

The fourth story is from Nebraska Offensive Coordinator Shawn Watson, whose daughter has been married to a Navy Seal, Marcus Capone, for 10 years. Marcus and his family of four live in San Diego, and he has Navy teammates who love the Huskers.

The fifth story is from Dave Sundberg, who spent five years in the U.S. Army. His son, Craig Sundberg, was NU's 1984 Tom Novak Award winner and the Sugar Bowl MVP 25 years ago. Dave and his wife, Linda, have decided to donate tickets to this cause.

Let's hear from each one:

Tyrone Fahie: San Diego Sparked Big Red Intrigue

Earlier this month, Tyrone Fahie was the only player in America who played in one game this season (Colorado) and won a national award - the Lott Impact Trophy, which was presented in California to someone who "represents the best of America."

Next week, Fahie will suit up for his last game, one of 23 Husker seniors who would like to become the first school in bowl history to pitch back-to-back shutouts.

As disappointed as he was that Nebraska did not win the last Big 12 Championship Game, the loss enables Fahie to return to the place that sparked his interest in becoming a Husker.

"I met a guy in the military from St. Paul (Neb.), and he kept telling me how wonderful Nebraska was," Fahie said, explaining how he met his friend while supporting communications for the Seal One Team in San Diego during his last 3½ years in the Navy.

"I came out to Nebraska and saw first-hand how wonderful it was," Fahie said. "I fell in love with the atmosphere and fell in love with the university, and that's the only reason why I'm here."

Now, he hopes Big Red fans can help someone else experience what he did. "If buying a ticket can turn someone on to this program, then that seems a small price to pay for a lifelong fan," Fahie said.

"There will be a lot of demand, especially for a game like this," Fahie said. "Nebraska travels well, and I've learned that lot of people have respect for Nebraska, wherever they live. I think it's because growing up, wherever you live, you see Nebraska on TV. I know of several locations in San Diego that order in the games, and when you get inside every one of those places, it's a complete red out."

Someday soon, Fahie will be among the loyal followers. Next July, he will be married. A month later, he will receive his MBA. I've lived a couple of dreams," he said. "I guess it's time to wake up and grow up."

It's time to find a job, pay the bills and get his own chance to buy tickets for the military. "I'm pursuing opportunities in Southern California, but my fiancé would really like me to stay here. So I'm sure I'll stay here," he said. "Nebraska has great infrastructure for someone with a degree in Information Systems. Plus, it would have to be a phenomenal opportunity for me to leave this state."

Brandon Rigoni: It's Nice to Help Those Who Protect Us

It was a sight to behold last December ... an assistant strength coach who carved his reputation as a fearless gunner on Nebraska's special teams trying to emulate a Navy Seal - something he once aspired to be and still has not written off completely.

Brandon Rigoni "got a little sick" when he tried to do the physical tasks a Seal does on a regular basis - sprint to various obstacles on a beach, hang from high bars, climb awkward heights and complete a series of stations he wasn't quite ready for.

Rigoni took on the famed "O" Course that Seals tackle throughout "Hell Week" - a challenge that is part of the process of becoming a member. It is not unlike trying to climb your way up the Nebraska football depth chart. It's just much more grueling.

"Everything they do, their times have to improve little by little," Rigoni said. "You have to complete the course physically and mentally as quick as you can. You have to think while you're going full bore. It definitely wears you out. They're really good with strength to weight. They whip around and jump from obstacle-to-obstacle like monkeys."

Rigoni said he's glad there's no video of him dragging behind and losing his cookies.

Fatigue is a challenge, so Rigoni went to the same course the next day and tried to improve his times.

"I definitely learned why the Seals always refer to one of their favorite sayings: 'The only easy day was yesterday,'" he said. "They go hard all the time, and every day is difficult. That's the way they think, and that's the way they train."

No wonder Bo Pelini and James Dobson were so enamored with getting an inside view of Navy Seal training.

"We all look at Navy Seals as the cream of the crop. They're a really special, elite group in every way," Rigoni said. "But when we went out there last year, we found it interesting that they look at our football program the same way we look at them. They wanted to know all about what we do, how we train and what the guys are like. They were every bit as curious about us as we were about them. There was great mutual respect.

"They've been so generous with us, it only seems fair for us to open up our doors and let them see what we're all about as well," Rigoni said. "They love football. The game is completely consistent with everything they do. It's all the same mentality."

So yes, if Nebraska fans buy tickets for active military personnel, it would please Rigoni no end. "They would really get a kick out of attending a game," he said. "I look at it this way. The Christmas that we're all able to enjoy and the freedom to live our lives the way we want to live 'em is all because of those folks. Everyone knows that, so this would be something really nice for us to do for them."

If the Seals become the benefactor of Nebraska tickets, "they'll wear red," Rigoni predicted. "There is absolutely no doubt about that."

Anthony West: The Military 'Deserve Everything They Get'

Anthony West grew up and lived less than 10 minutes from San Diego's famed 32nd Street Naval Station. "The Navy has such a huge influence in San Diego, whether it's downtown or up the coast all the way to Point Loma and beyond," he said. "The entire city of San Diego has huge respect for the Navy, and it's so obvious why - they work so hard and do so many great things for our country."

Consequently, any tickets Nebraska fans can donate to the Navy or the Marine Corps "are well earned," West said. "They deserve everything they get. They are so dedicated and so appreciative."

West knows what a hassle tickets can be. "When we went to the Holiday Bowl last year, I think I ended up getting something like 54 tickets," he recalled. "I try to get as many tickets as I can, but it's so hard."

The San Diego native is asking friends and extended family to pursue their own tickets, but is excited about Nebraska reaching out to the military.

"This game is meaningful to me in a lot of ways," West said. "It's the last game of my career, and I get to play my last college game in the same stadium that I played my last high school game. We lost the state championship in high school. It's really important to finish off my last home game with a win in my hometown."

Shawn Watson: Navy Seals are 'The Best of the Best'

Shawn Watson's daughter, Amber, is married to Marcus Capone, a member of the Navy Seal special commando force since 2000. Nebraska's offensive coordinator calls the Seals "a unique group of people because of the way they make 'em and the way they train. They're the best of the best."

Watson says almost all Seals are college graduates with many working on master's and doctorate degrees. "A lot of them are former athletes," he said. "They're very committed people to our country, and I'm glad they're on our team, that's for sure."

When almost all of Nebraska's football team took advantage of last December's opportunity to visit the Seals on their beachfront training ground, Husker players were in awe. The inside look not only showed them the rigor required to be a Seal, but also demonstrated how committed they are to our country.

"They have great pride, and it doesn't take long for you to understand that they're all in," Watson said. "They're all in so much that they put their lives on the line for us every day. They're the ones who chase the bad guys. They do things that no one else really wants to do, but has to be done. Any way we can help this special group and all other military groups would be awesome."

Thanks to Watson's son-in-law, Rigoni said Nebraska's strength and conditioning staff has been invited to continue an expertise share on the art of physical training with the Seals. "He's such a great guy, as tough as they come," Rigoni said of Capone. "We all see him as a class act and everything a Navy Seal should be."

Dave Sundberg: Husker Family Supports 'Heroes' Program

Dave Sundberg went to this year's Big 12 Championship Game with his son, Craig, a former Sugar Bowl MVP, and two grandsons, Husker senior golfer Brett Sundberg and older brother Aaron, another former college golfer.

Nebraska bowl games always have been important in the Sundberg household and not just because Craig threw three touchdown passes and scored another on a 9-yard run in a 28-10 win over LSU on Jan. 1, 1985.

Bowl games are rewards for hard work, and Dave and his wife, Linda, are eager this year to support the Huskers for Heroes program that will enable Nebraska fans to donate tickets to active members of the military.

The Sundbergs were a military family for five years in the early 1960s, and they know how appreciative they would be if someone donated tickets so they could watch a bowl game anywhere, let alone San Diego.

An Army aviator that flew reconnaissance planes in Germany for three years, Dave was fortunate to live with his wife in Europe while deployed. When he was sent to Vietnam, she moved back to Lincoln.

"We have fond memories of being a military family, and we both feel that anything we can do to thank those serving our country is important," Dave said. "We think this (Huskers for Heroes) program is a great thing, and we both want to support it."

There you have it. Tyrone "Sarge" Fahie. Brandon Rigoni. Anthony West. Shawn Watson and Dave Sundberg ... five different perceptions, but all say the same thing: Go ahead and buy those military men and women tickets to the Holiday Bowl.

They deserve it.


Former Husker Lombardi and Outland Trophy winner Dave Rimington was honored this week when the Big Ten Conference announced his name would be part of a new set of trophies created to recognize the league's rich and storied history.

Rimington, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, and Ohio State's Orlando Pace were chosen to represent past legends and leaders on trophies that future generations of Big Ten athletes will compete to win. The Big Ten Offensive Line Player of the Year will be awarded the Rimington-Pace Trophy.

The awards are part of a lineup of 18 new trophies unveiled Monday in conjunction with the Big Ten's announcement of new football division names and a new logo for the 2011-12 academic year.

"I'm honored and I'm humbled to be the only guy from Nebraska on this list," Rimington said. "But I was kind of shocked by the whole thing because we've had so many great players at Nebraska ... guys like Johnny Rodgers and so many others. I never even thought I was the best athlete on my team. I guess that's one of the advantages of playing a position that nobody wants to play. I know they probably took some heat from people who might say this guy has never played a down in the Big Ten, so why is he on an award? I guess they're trying to figure a way to integrate Nebraska into the Big Ten, so I think it was a good gesture, and I am appreciative."

Only Back-to-Back Outland Winner in History

The only player ever to win the Outland Trophy in consecutive years (1981 and 1982), Rimington is one of the most decorated offensive linemen in college football history.

The 6-foot-3, 290-pound center was a two-time first-team All-American in 1981 and 1982 and is one of just 17 Huskers to have his jersey retired. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1997, while his jersey was retired by Nebraska in 1982.

Tom Osborne, Rimington's head coach at Nebraska and now athletic director, said the honor was well-deserved. "We have a lot of great players the Big Ten could have selected, but I guess when you think of center, usually you think of Dave Rimington, and that's not just Nebraska, but nationally. Dave probably combined size, speed and strength about as well as anybody. He was one of the quickest guys off the ball we've ever seen here. He was amazing at center and did a great job for us every game. The Big Ten is obviously trying to be inclusive and have every team that they can be represented. So I think it's an interesting and probably appropriate that they could pick somebody like Dave out as someone who is symbolic or emblematic of Nebraska football."

A three-time first-team All-Big Eight choice from 1980 to 1982, Rimington was named the Big Eight Offensive Player of the Year in 1981, marking the only time in conference history that a lineman has earned the prestigious honor. During his career, the Omaha South grad helped the Huskers win back-to-back Big Eight titles in 1981 and 1982. Nebraska led the nation in rushing during his senior season.

A four-year letterman and three-year starter, Rimington was named team captain and capped his senior season by winning the 1982 Lombardi Award. Also, a two-time first-team academic All-American, Rimington was honored by the NCAA as a Top-Five Student-Athlete and was selected as a National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame Scholar-Athlete in 1982. He was also a three-time first-team academic All-Big Eight choice from 1980 to 1982. In 1999, he was selected to the Walter Camp All-Century team.

First Husker Ever in CoSIDA Hall of Fame

More recently, Rimington became the first Nebraska student-athlete in history to be inducted into the CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Fame. Rimington claimed that distinguished honor in 2004.

A first-round draft choice of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1983, Rimington played five seasons with the Bengals, and played two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles before retiring in 1989.

Rimington is the president of the Boomer Esiason Foundation and resides in New York. In 2000, the first Rimington Award sponsored by the Boomer Esiason Foundation to honor college football's center of the year was presented to Nebraska center Dominic Raiola, whose jersey No. 54 was retired in 2002. The annual award is presented in Lincoln. This year's Rimington Banquet will be held at the Rococo Theatre on Jan. 15, 2011.


Randy York's N-Sider

Courtesy Scott Bruhn/NU Media Relations

When Tom Osborne spoke Tuesday at the Adams County Fairgrounds in his hometown of Hastings, the audience was an estimated 1,200 "owners" of Cooperative Producers, Inc. (CPI), a group committed to growing partnerships through agriculture.

By the end of Osborne's address, those CPI owners understood why Nebraska's athletic director was asking them to make "Grow Big Red" as catchy and well-known as "Go Big Red"... so the Huskers can continue to enable a walk-on program that has made Nebraska the Land of Opportunity for hundreds of players both in the state and across the country.

Amazing what a luncheon chat can do when you count down the days left in a year to make donations.

Osborne's CPI Ag Expo keynote address explained why he believes Nebraska farmers and Husker Athletics are almost "a mirror image of each other" in terms of values and work ethic. He pointed out how they can work together to benefit Nebraska's Cornhusker Cooperative program, a partnership between Nebraska Athletics and state farmers.

In describing the role the Beef Club played in helping Nebraska compete for decades, Osborne expressed equal optimism for the Huskers' first venture into a Grain Club. The state's agricultural economy, he said, has been a stabilizing influence and has helped Nebraska absorb the recessionary impact felt by so many other states.

Cornhusker Cooperative - headed by Nebraska Athletic Department Staff Members Mike Dobbs and Doak Ostergard - makes it easy for farmers to donate grain to Nebraska Athletics.

"About two-thirds of the state's grain elevators are involved in this program, and we think it makes a lot of sense," Osborne said. "We hope we get a lot of cooperation."

Farmers Make 18 Donations at Ag Expo in Hastings

If Tuesday was any measure of success, the program is headed in the right direction. Dean Oberle, the marketing manager for CPI, took 18 donations from farmers back to his office for processing.

"This has been a grand day - our biggest CPI Ag Expo ever," Oberle said. "We've never had that kind of turnout. Tom was a big draw. He talked to a lot of people and really did his homework. He was up to speed on all the new technologies our farmers are using or considering to grow their crops. He talked about increased opportunities for agricultural research as Nebraska moves into the Big Ten Conference and even mentioned how important it is to keep up with the Big Ten schools that have those big stadiums and the big athletic budgets that go with those stadiums."

Osborne told a captive audience how important walk-ons are to the success of the program because of the tone they set every day in practice.

Count CPI as on board and in the game to help farmers make donations that can help Nebraska transition into the Big Ten over the next 6½ months. CPI's efforts to raise money from grain sales also can help the Cornhuskers sustain a walk-on program that has catered to many from CPI's wide coverage area in grain, agronomy, energy, seed and other retail businesses.

Some of the best walk-ons in Nebraska history, in fact, have come from CPI's area. "Kyle Larson walked on from the tiny town of Funk and became an All-America punter," Oberle said. "Andy Means, Todd Brown and Scott Strasburger all came from Holdrege. Then, of course, there's Derek Meier from Campbell. He walked on and played here, and he works for CPI now. Heck, the secretary of our Board of Directors, Dean Luehr, walked on in the 1980s. We have all kinds of reasons why our cooperative members would want to support the University of Nebraska Athletic Department."

Oberle didn't have to bring up the next name. Last weekend, Joe Broekemeier, his nephew, was named the Walk-On MVP at Nebraska's 2010 Football Banquet.

"I don't want to sound like this is Uncle Dean talking, but Joe has a lot of athleticism. He's a very, very talented kid who worked his butt off to walk on and ended up starting the Colorado game and the Big 12 Championship Game (at wide receiver)," Oberle said. "Very few could have done what he did. With all the hurdles he faced, most would have taken the easy way out. Not Joe. When the going gets tough, he gets going."

From Basketball to Baseball to Football Walk-On

Talk about your proverbial long shot. Until two years ago, the 23-year-old Broekemeier hadn't played a down of football since his injury-plagued one-game sophomore season at Aurora High School. The leading basketball scorer among state Class B schools as a junior, Broekemeier accepted a scholarship to play baseball at Nebraska.

When injuries cut that dream short, he was encouraged by friends to walk on in football, and after five non-football-playing years, Broekemeier shattered the odds of becoming a Husker.

He will never forget when Jeff Jamrog, Nebraska's assistant athletic director for football operations, called him the Friday night before his big brother Matt's Saturday wedding in Kearney.

"I have good news and bad news," Jamrog told Broekemeier. "The good news is Bo wants you on the team. The bad news is you have to be at practice at 6 o'clock tomorrow morning."

Broekemeier told Jamrog his brother's wedding was the next day, and he couldn't be in Lincoln.

"You know Bo," Jamrog told him. "If you can't practice, you can't play."

Broekemeier said he would figure out some way to get there.

"No, Joe," Jamrog said, chuckling over the phone. "Get your brother married, and we'll see you Monday morning."

Doing Everything Possible to Achieve a Dream

Oberle loves that story because it defines how far his nephew had to go just for the chance to play. "The thing about Joe," Oberle said, "has been his willingness to do whatever it took just to put that Nebraska uniform on, strap on that helmet and step onto that field, let alone play. He was Scout Team MVP the week before last year's Oklahoma game and the Scout Team MVP the week before this year's Washington game. It's never been about him. It's always been about finding a way to help out his teammates. The only thing that mattered to him was to experience his dream. It was gratifying to see everything he worked so hard for come to fruition to the point where he even got to start as a Husker."

For both personal and business reasons, Oberle couldn't wait to introduce Osborne, so Nebraska's AD could educate CPI owners about the importance of supporting the walk-on program..

"Our 34 locations stretch from York to Holdrege and from the Kansas state line all the way north to Grand Island," said Oberle, who introduced Osborne with the help of a stirring Husker Tunnel Walk entrance.

Oberle is an agricultural advocate who for years was known for playing in a local band. He said he wanted Nebraska's fight song to set a tone for an important speech from a Hall-of-Fame coach and the pivotal leader charting Nebraska's athletic future.

"The University of Nebraska is big, and Nebraska Athletics is big," Oberle said. "Football is big and means everything to this state. Agriculture is big and means everything to this state, too. I see agriculture as the lifeline to what we do in Nebraska and football as the lifeline to how we express ourselves. It's about the environment and the people across this great state. They're the ones who support it all. They're the ones who create an atmosphere around here that others only wish they could have."

From Devaney to Osborne and Now Bo Pelini

For Oberle, the conclusion is simple and straightforward. "The people of Nebraska, the university, the players, the coaches and the fans have high standards, principles and values," he said. "Bob Devaney brought us all together as one, and then Tom Osborne came along and just put an exclamation point on it for everyone. Now, Bo Pelini is getting those same standards and values instilled into the program and moving us forward again."

Oberle believes Nebraska natives might just be the hardest working kids in the country. "They grow up knowing how hard you have to work just to get on the field," he said. "Nebraska is this entire state's team - a team that reflects our strong work ethic, our character, morals, integrity, commitment, honesty and passion. Day in and day out, I see those values at work, and if I've heard it once, I've heard it a million times. Every Nebraska farmer knows someone who dreams about playing for the Huskers."

That brings us full circle and back to Cornhusker Cooperative.

Who better than Broekemeier can extol the virtues from both a walk-on and an agricultural perspective? His dad and uncle, after all, both work in the commodity grain business.

"I think there's a good link between the mindset of a walk-on and the mindset of a farmer," Broekemeier said. "We're so much alike. Farmers in coops can't just watch something magically get planted into the ground and expect results. They have to go out there and work it every single day. Walk-ons have the same challenges. If we're not going to give 100 percent every single day, it's pointless to even try. We have to have the same kind of determination as farmers do. They're paying to put their crops in the ground, and we're paying for a chance to play football - with our own money and our own time.

"We're not bound to be here. It's our choice to be here," Broekemeier added. "One thing I've learned. If you're a walk-on at Nebraska, you love the program, you love the school, and you love the state. That's why it takes so much passion to make the grade here. You have to want it more than anyone else does. Sometimes, scholarship guys, especially from states not in the Midwest, don't understand that passion when they first get here. But eventually, over time, they start to feel the same love and the same passion we have. Just being around the walk-ons, they start buying into the program. When they see what getting on the field means to players like Jim Ebke, Tyler Legate, Lance Thorell and the rest of us, they get it."

Broekemeier says walk-ons play a big role in Nebraska football, motivationally and otherwise.

Uncle Dean Puts His Whole Heart into It, Too

"I think it's cool that my Uncle Dean is involved with Cornhusker Cooperative," Broekemeier said. "He used to have quite a band back in his day. He could sing and play guitar. Whether it was weddings, graduations, whatever, he was the electric guru you could always go to. We'd just let him go to work, and he made everything a miracle. If he wants to get something done, no matter what it is or what it takes, he'll get it done. That's just the type of person he is. He puts his whole heart into it."

So, Mr. Oberle, how do you feel about such a compliment from your successful walk-on nephew?

"I think Cornhusker Cooperative is a very good program and will be successful," he said. "We're going to get behind it, promote it and be persistent about it. They always say, all good things take time, and this program is no different. It's going to take time for people to understand what it's all about, and when they do, it will get the kind of traction you need for long-term success."

Like a good walk-on story, the Cornhusker Cooperative story needs daily development, constant improvement and bona fide performance. "Personally, I prefer that it doesn't come on real quick, move too fast and then die out," Oberle said. "It's been my experience in this business that anything that takes time to get going has a much better chance to become something really special."

Tuesday's Ag Expo was critical for awareness. The Athletic Department even had a booth at the Expo to help farmers understand why it's important to donate grain and show them how easy it is.

The process has been simplified to accommodate farmers.

"We're a big cooperative with $750 million in annual sales," Oberle said. "We'll move 80 million bushels of corn through our company this year. Some will be in farm storage, some using our storage, some in ground piles and some in bins."

Making a Timely Financial Donation Decision

Now that farmers understand the process, Oberle expects them to make decisions to donate, some before Jan. 1 and others in the coming months when it makes the most sense for their personal business ledgers.

"Having Coach Osborne here today was big for us and for the success of Cornhusker Cooperative," he said. "When you see who's involved in this program and how it can benefit the cause, we'll have all the commitment, persistence and passion we need.

"Cornhusker Cooperative is a great way for our farmers to share their success and to help our walk-ons in the big picture," Oberle said. "Nothing means more to farmers in Nebraska than knowing that walk-ons will always have an opportunity to show what they can do. Farmers and walk-ons really do kind of mirror each other because both know that you can only measure success one day at a time."

No wonder "Taking Care of Business" was one of Oberle's favorite songs when he and his band would play 150 dates a year and win various local, state and regional music awards.

"Maybe 'Taking Care of Business' should be the theme song for Cornhusker Cooperative," Oberle said.

Maybe, just maybe, it should be the theme song for Nebraska's walk-ons, too.

(from Swannie)...doesn't have anything to do with Nebraska but its still punny!


Did you ever wonder why there are no dead penguins on the ice in Antarctica - where do they go ?

Wonder no more ! ! !

It is a known fact that the penguin is a very ritualistic bird which lives an extremely ordered and complex life. The penguin is very committed to its family and will mate for life, as well as maintaining a form of compassionate contact with its offspring throughout its life.

If a penguin is found dead on the ice surface, other members of the family and social circle have been known to dig holes in the ice, using their vestigial wings and beaks, until the hole is deep enough for the dead bird to be rolled into and buried.

The male penguins then gather in a circle around the fresh grave and sing:

"Freeze a jolly good fellow"

"Freeze a jolly good fellow."

Then they kick him in the ice hole.

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