Freedom Trophy

Husker Hot Takes – 11/15/14

The weather is cold, but the takes are hot:

A teenage boy makes grown men lose their minds.
There has been much hand-wringing over a certain high-profile running back recruit potentially decommitting from Nebraska.  One report said it was a done deal.  Another said not so fast.  A third said “beats me, I have no clue”.

All of this uncertainty, left those who passionately follow recruiting twisting in the wind.  Sadly, the reactions were predictable:  When it appeared as if this kid was not going to honor his verbal pledge to Nebraska he was trashed on message boards and Twitter.  Who needs him?  Then when word came out that he was not necessarily leaving, folks backtracked and started proclaiming him the heir apparent for Ameer Abdullah.

But the worst happened Friday night.  Reports came out that this young man suffered a “leg injury” in his high school game.  I saw more than one grown man suggest that his injury (the severity of which was not immediately known) was – and I quote – “karma” for being less than 110% certain where he wants to spend the next four years of his life.

I find this absolutely disgusting.

If you want to be disappointed that a potential difference-making player may not end up in Lincoln, that’s fine*.

*Although you probably should remind yourself that of the three running backs NU signed a few years ago, Ameer Abdullah was the least touted of the bunch.

But when you find some sort of sick satisfaction in a high school kid getting injured, that is reprehensible – and it’s not what Nebraska is about.  Even worse, are the grown-a__ men who feel the need to tweet or message their frustrations to a kid because they feel like a spurned lover.  Nebraska’s compliance department had to issue a reminder that it is a NCAA violation for fans to have direct contact with recruits.  Besides, it’s creepy and gross.

You probably noticed that I’ve gone out of my way to not name the kid in the middle of this brouhaha.  Why?  If he’s as talented as advertised, I’d like for him to end up at Nebraska.  But would you go (or want your son to go) to a place where the fans will turn on you at the drop of a hat?  Since I believe that most kids (as well as most adults) do search for and read things written about them, I’m not going to help bring this crap to his attention.  The less people outside our fan base know about this, the better.

The Committee hates Nebraska.
Nebraska dropped three spots in the latest College Football Playoff poll, despite a) not playing a game and b) multiple teams ranked ahead of NU losing last week.  As one might expect, this news was met with confusion, anger, and accusations that the Committee (containing a bunch of very respected football minds) is stupid, biased, or is conspiring against Nebraska.

Certainly, there is confusion throughout the nation on what the Committee wants to see and will reward.  “Quality” wins over ranked teams certainly seems to be something they value.  Without getting into a team-by-team scheduling breakdown, Nebraska is lacking.  Their best win (Miami) was almost two months ago.  Since then, NU has beaten who they should beat and lost to the only ranked team they played.

The answer here is simple:  We should ditch this stupid playoff and go back to the BCS.

Or, and this may be even crazier, Nebraska should only worry about winning games.  If NU wins out, I’m confident they will be rewarded for their efforts.  But if NU loses to Wisconsin, Minnesota, or Iowa, then where they were ranked on Veteran’s Day won’t matter at all.

Screw Freedom.  Let’s battle for the right to wear a red shirt.
Since the announcement of the new Freedom Trophy (ugh), fans of Wisconsin and Nebraska have pushed for different stakes on the budding Wisconsin-Nebraska rivalry:  Instead of some generic (and rather ugly) trophy, let the two teams find out who the “real” Big Red is.  They propose that the winner gets to wear their red jerseys next year (home or away).

For those of you pushing this idea, I like where your head is at.  It would be a concept unique to college football (to my knowledge) and it certainly is better than the Freedom Trophy*

*Of course, many of the rejected trophy ideas are better than the Freedom Trophy…

But my fellow Husker fans, let’s be honest with ourselves:  say this winner wears red idea take effect, would you really proclaim any school other than Dear Old Nebraska U as the “real” Big Red?  Given the back story of Wisconsin’s rise (inspired by Nebraska’s success, and led by a NU alumnus), as well as Nebraska’s credentials (five titles, three Heismans, top five in all time wins, etc.) wouldn’t you ALWAYS consider Nebraska as the “real” Big Red, even if they happen to lose the occasional game to the Badgers?  I know I would.

In my opinion, a big part of the fun of these trophy games is seeing the winning team race to the opposing sideline to reclaim the trophy before parading it around the stadium.  How would that work here?  If Nebraska losses this year, but wins in 2015 would they change into red jerseys on the sideline after the game?  Run over to the Wisconsin sideline and force the Badgers to remove their red jerseys?  Waiting until next year for the reward is anti-climatic.

Besides, if Nebraska is going to play for something other than a true trophy, I still like the idea that the winner of the Northwestern series gets sole use of “NU” for the following year.

The Huskers hit the gym.
CornFedSports put out a very amusing video showing several Nebraska football players* taking part in a training session with the Nebraska Women’s Gymnastics team.

*Specifically, Jake Cotton, Derek Foster, Jack Gangwish, Andy Janovich, Alex Lewis, Josh Mitchell, and Johnny Stanton.  All of them are good sports for being filmed.

If for no other reason, you should watch it to see Jake Cotton’s floor routine*.

*Sadly, Cotton does not incorporate his Michigan State false start move into a reverse somersault or back hand spring.  Such a missed opportunity.  But he does maintain the Women’s Gym tradition of “throwing the bones” during the floor routine.  

Believe it or not, you’ll see the bones thrown more often at a Nebraska gymnastics meet than any Husker football game since Jason Peter graduated.

As a fan of both programs, I really enjoyed this video.  The stereotype is that the football players are supremely conditioned athletes, capable of excelling in just about any athletic endeavor, while the gymnasts are the little pixies who do cartwheels and flips.  The video does a great job of showing that these ladies are just as tough and strong as their classmates on the football field (as Jack Gangwish’s bloody hands will attest).

Of course, since turnabout is fair play, there is a second video showing some of the gymnasts taking part in football drills.  Let’s just say that Drew Brown and Josh Mitchell do not need to worry about anybody taking their jobs.



Rejected Freedom Trophies

Nebraska and Wisconsin unveiled the “Freedom Trophy” that both teams will play for on Saturday.  The bronze trophy has a football stadium (half of Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium, and half of Wisconsin’s Camp Randall) with a giant American flag blowing above it.  It is breathtaking in it’s generic beauty, forced patriotism, and lack of meaningful connection to the two schools.

But the current Freedom Trophy was not the only design considered by the Big Ten’s Nondescript Trophy Committee.  They also considered several other freedom-inspired trophies including:

  • A 40 pound bronze bust of Husker freshman tight end Freedom Akinmoladun.
  • Free tuition awarded to any Wisconsin or Nebraska student who can correctly spell “Akinmoladun”.
  • A slightly used cassette tape of George Michael’s “Freedom ’90” from Barry Alvarez’s glove box.
  • A bald eagle wearing an Uncle Sam top hat, clutching Hitler and Bin Laden in its talons.
  • A stuffed Bucky Badger wearing a Free LP shirt.
  • A bronze sculpture of Mount Rushmore that plays “America F__ Yeah!” when you press George Washington’s nose.
  • a 1:100 scale replica of the NYC Freedom Tower.  Measuring 17.76 feet, it is the tallest trophy in sports.
  • The Heroes Trophy (presented by Hy-Vee!) with “Iowa” and “Heroes” crossed out and replaced with “Wisconsin” and “Freedom”.
  • A football helmet filled with Freedom Fries.
  • A paper mache head painted to look like Mel Gibson in Braveheart.  If you pull the mullet, it recites the classic “Freedom” speech.

    I’d rather play for this meme than the actual Freedom Trophy.

  • A VHS copy of Rocky IV, recorded from WGN, circa 1996.
  • A statue of Abraham Lincoln (the “father of freedom”) wearing a badger head and stove-pipe hat.
  • A bumper sticker that says “Merica – Love It Or Leave It.”
  • The keys to every home and business in Freedom, Wisconsin (pop. 5,942).
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