Nebraska Cornhuskers football

State of the Huskers Survey – Results and Responses

Dadgummit, Shawn Eichorst.

I worked hard to put together a comprehensive survey intended to get a true pulse of the Husker fan base on a number of hot-button topics.  I put it out there, promoted it (thanks again to 93.7 The Ticket’s Gaskins & Stephens Show for having me on last week), and many, many of you took the time to take the survey over the last week.

I spent a good chunk of time Friday and Saturday night going through the 6,000+ responses, analyzing the data, and working towards putting out the results that so many of you were excited to see.  When I went to bed early Sunday morning, I was about halfway through this post and felt confident that I would have it ready for Monday morning.

And then Eichorst goes and fires Bo Pelini.

The key question in this survey (Should Bo Pelini be fired before the end of the 2014 season?) was answered for me by the one person whose response carries all the weight.

Mr. Eichorst, I understand that you felt you had to make a change – and I’m not going to argue that you probably made the right call.  But couldn’t you have waited until Monday? State of the Huskers header

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Even with Pelini’s firing stealing some of the thunder from this, there is still a lot of good data in here.  Therefore, on with the show!

Before we dive into the questions and your responses, I would be remiss if I did not give proper thanks to everybody who completed the survey, who shared it with others via social media, and who provided constructive criticism for me.*

*The biggest thing I learned is that the Gallup folks make things look easier than they really are.  My site will not be changing from FeitCanWrite to FeitCanSurvey any time soon.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Thanks to your time and efforts, I am thrilled about the sample size of this survey.  You can skip down to the demographics questions (46 – 50) to get more details, but here are the highlights showing how diverse the respondents were:

  • Over 6,000 respondents in under a week.
  • Survey results from 49 states*, the District of Columbia, and 42 locations outside the U.S.
  • Respondents very evenly distributed across age groups 30-39 all the way to 60+.
  • A good mix of UNL alumni, former students, and off campus fans.

*Come on Huskers in New Hampshire – let’s step up our game a little bit.  That said, I’m inclined to say we had representation from all 50 states:  my first non-dorm residence in Lincoln was on New Hampshire Street.  I lived there throughout college and another four years after graduation, so I’m practically a resident of the Granite State (even if I had to use Google to learn that New Hamp is the Granite State).

I think this helps give a great cross-section of all Husker fans, which is exactly what I wanted.

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For each question, I’m going to share the following data:

  • The question that was asked
  • Each of the answer options
  • The percentage of responses each answer option received
  • The total number of responses each answer option received
  • If the question contained an “Other (please specify)” option, I’ll share some of the common responses, as well as others that stand out to me.  I will directly quote these responses.
  • Finally, I’ll provide my interpretation, comments, and other feedback.  Some of these were written before Pelini was fired, but I’ll edit as many as I can.

Also, a full PDF version of the results (including pie charts!) can be found here:  State_of_the_Husker_Results

Finally, if you want to see my responses and a brief justification for each one, you can see my completed survey here.

Let’s get started:

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1. What is the biggest issue facing the Nebraska football program?


Dear LJS Editor: Stop Trolling Us

My e-migo Derek Hernandez of and CornNation has a recurring feature called “#PictureMeTrollin” where he posts statements and opinions (not necessarily his) intended to get a response from readers.  It’s a brilliant feature for a website as it inspires comments, conversation, and back and forth arguments – all of which leads to page views, clicks, and other metrics websites use to get advertiser dollars.  Plus, I like that Hernandez tells you right up front that you’re being trolled for a response.  That kind of honesty is refreshing.

Unfortunately, not everyone is as forthcoming with their trolling attempts.

Yeah, I’m talking about you, Lincoln Journal-Star.

The LJS has a bad habit of trolling their readers via their Letters to the Editor page.  The editorial board is quite fond of publishing letters from…how shall I put this politely…people on the polar edges of an issue, or folks who have an unpopular opinion about something most folks know and love.

Obviously, partisan politics is low hanging fruit for the Letters page.  Newspapers across the country run letters from extreme conservatives bashing liberals (or vice versa), so the LJS is not alone there.  But that’s not what I’m referring to here.

I’m talking about the Journal-Star’s love for publishing letters from citizens who say wildly unpopular things about Nebraska athletics or take issue with how NU’s athletic events are run.  Three recent examples come to mind:

In all three examples, your average Husker fan (a solid majority of the Journal-Star’s readership, I presume) probably rolled their eyes after reading the letter – or laughed at the awesomeness that is “hip-hop hogwash”.*  Some probably took to the comments section on to bash the letter’s writer.  Others may have gone onto social media or their favorite message board to sound off.  As you can tell from the links above, I took the bait and wrote blog posts about them.  Yep, I was trolled.

*Seriously, it just refuses to gets old.  Hip-hop hogwash.  Hip-hop hogwash.  Hip-hop hogwash.  

Is this who picks the Letters to the Editor at the Journal-Star?

Regardless of where you share your opinions, you probably included a link back to the original letter, which helps get more clicks.  Maybe you went back repeatedly to read and respond to other comments on the letter.  Maybe in doing that, you used up the 10 free views you get from, so you decided to purchase an online subscription.  Maybe you accidentally clicked on an ad.  Meanwhile, the Journal-Star watches their page views go up and counts their ad clicks.  Whether or not they think the letter is stupid is irrelevant.  They’re just trolling you for a reaction (and clicks).  And it works.*

*Oh yeah it works.  I would love to get Janet and Jay Squires “started on the parking” so I can find out who the heck is parking almost two miles away from the stadium on a football Saturday, when there are thousands of spots downtown and hundreds more on the street in neighborhoods much closer than where I believe the Squires reside.  Husker fans, if you’re parking in the 6th and B Street area for a game, you’re doing it wrong.

I’d also like to point out that when the wind/weather conditions are right, I can hear crowd noise and marching bands from the high school football field (Seacrest) that is approximately 1.75 miles from my house.  I have yet to write any letters of complaint.  And if I did, I’d send them to the Lincoln School Board, not to the Journal-Star, a local TV station, my congressman, or anybody else who ultimately doesn’t care.

Clearly, the Journal-Star is not alone here.  Regardless of if you believe they intentionally publish letters simply to drive traffic and responses, you have to acknowledge that the Journal-Star is receiving some odd letters from people without anything better to do, kooks, and the “Get off my lawn!” crowd who believe that a letter to the editor will convince the NU Athletic Department to turn down the volume at games.

Personally, I like to believe the paper receives at least one letter a week composed entirely in crayon or letters cut out of a magazine. But just because you receive the rants and ramblings of a retiree, it does not mean that you have to print them.

C’mon Lincoln Journal-Star:  Either stop trolling us, or have the courtesy to own it.

How to Appease Husker Fans of All Generations

Nebraska is renowned for having excellent fans who support their Cornhuskers to the end.  The sellout streak at Memorial Stadium will reach 340 by the end of the 2014 season.  But there has always been a divide among Husker fans in the stadium.  There are those fans who want games to be raucous events, and some who would prefer to go, sit, and quietly watch the game.  Typically, that latter group is labeled “blue hairs”, as they tend to be some of the older fans who have had season tickets for decades.  Over the years*, the blue hairs have been telling fans to sit down, shut up, and generally do things that one might consider counter to having a loud, intimidating environment for opposing teams.

*I’ve heard the residents of West Stadium referred to as “blue hairs” since the early 1990s.  Which means that some of the folks who used to complain about blue hairs can now be considered blue hairs themselves.  

The latest example comes to us from the Lincoln Journal Star’s Letters to the Editor page where Charley Ackerman writes to voice his displeasure with the loud volume coming from the new million dollar sound system – it is too loud for him to converse with those in his section.  Charley also is displeased by the quantity of “hip-hop hogwash”* being played from the speakers.

*Seriously, “hip-hop hogwash” might be the greatest combination of letters in the history of the English language.  I cannot adequately express how much I love that phrase.  Hip-hop hogwash.  Hip-hop hogwash.  Hip-hop hogwash.  It never gets old!

Predictably, Charley’s letter has been met with rolled eyes, Internet mockery, and suggestions that he and his fellow blue hairs stay home.  But I don’t think we need to get to that extreme.  Besides, it’s worth noting that the blue hairs – especially those in the West stadium – are often big and long-time donors, whose money is not easily replaced by young alums repaying student loans.

But on the other side, there are fans who think Nebraska is too traditional, too stuck in their ways, too willing to cater to the old farts who have sat in the same seats since LBJ was in office.  They would like to see Nebraska move onto the cutting edge – or at least keep up with other teams that are doing new and exciting things.

So how do we reconcile the wants and needs of these two very diverse sects of the same group?  Simple, we take a page from my hometown church.

The church I grew up in does two services.  The early service is the traditional one with the full scripture readings, old hymns, and beautiful old sanctuary.  The early service at Resurrection Lutheran is almost exactly the same today as it was in 1985, and there is a loyal and devoted crowd (my silver-haired mom included) who would not have it any other way.  It is familiar, it is classic, it is timeless.

The late service is the contemporary one.  It’s held in the fellowship hall and has a small band that leads newer, upbeat songs while overhead screens display scripture and images.  The contemporary service has a more laid-back, fun vibe to it and it also draws a loyal crowd.

Since Nebraska Football is often referred to as the “state religion”, let’s apply these same concepts to the Game Day Experience:

Games with 11 am kickoffs will be the “traditional service”.  The Tunnel Walk will be played, with “Sirius” as the background music.  Speaking of music, most of the in-stadium music will be provided by the Cornhusker Marching Band.  To appease our friend Charley, the speakers will be at a reasonable volume, and no hip-hop hogwash will be played during the traditional service.  (Athletic Department staff will consult with Tom Osborne to see what kind of music he enjoys).  There will be no smoke when Nebraska comes out of the tunnel, no fireworks after scores, and nobody will put up a net when a PAT or field goal is kicked – just throw the ball back down to the field, please.  The large HuskerVision screen in the south end zone will display graphics so it resembles the old First Federal Lincoln scoreboard.  Halftime refreshments will consist of non-alcoholic grape juice and a thin, stale wafer.

Nebraska will always wear their iconic uniforms (red jerseys, white pants, and the white helmet with the sans-serif N), and the congregation will be asked to wear red.  Offensive Coordinator Tim Beck will be asked to limit the number of passes called, and encouraged to run at least three fullback dives as well as an option to the short side of the field.  Prolonged standing is allowed, but will be strongly discouraged.  The wave may occur, but expect it to take several attempts to really get going.  Don’t bother trying to connect to the in-stadium WiFi, because it will be turned off.  But you can tune into Kent Pavelka and Gary Saddlemeyer’s call on KFAB.

Outside of Memorial Stadium on the University ...

Here is the church, those are the steeples…(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Games with 7 pm kickoffs will be the “contemporary service”.  The stadium speakers are cranked up so the residents of Crete can hear what is going on.  Instead of a marching band, Nebraska employs a full-time DJ who spins “hip hop, but no hogwash”.  The big screens and ribbon boards are alive with replays, stats, cat videos, and tweets from @FauxPelini scrolling continuously.  The Tunnel Walk is completely revamped with smoke, lasers, strobe lights, and a new song that gets everybody amped up.  Every game, Nebraska comes out in a new and exciting alternate uniform and helmet, raising the bar for other schools.  Beer vendors will be everywhere in the stadium.

To encourage fans to stand up, the benches in the first 50 rows will be removed.  Depending on the opponent, fans will be asked to wear black, red, or white shirts.  Students will wave towels all game long while performing more organized cheers and chants than a major league soccer team.  The opening offensive play of the second half will be decided by a Twitter poll with #DeepBall being a perennial favorite.  Before the fourth quarter, the entire stadium rocks as the DJ plays the song that puts Wisconsin’s “Jump Around” to shame.

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There.  Hopefully this will keep all of Nebraska’s passionate fans excited about coming to games in Lincoln.  More importantly, it will help make sure that folks like Charley can complain about other more pressing issues, like Beck’s play calling, the price of a slice of pizza, or the number of steps up to his seats in section 34.

Rejected Names for Bo Pelini’s Kitty (K)

Nebraska held their annual spring Red-White scrimmage today.  The highlight of the day happened before the game started.  Head Coach Bo Pelini lead the team out for their traditional Tunnel Walk carrying a cat.

Yes.  A football coach with a reputation for being surly carried a cat onto the field in front of 61,000 fans.  And then proceeded to hold it up in the air Lion King style.

God bless the Internet.

God bless the Internet.

The video can be seen here.

Here is the quick back story:  There is a Bo Pelini parody account on Twitter (@fauxpelini) that is brilliant and hilarious.  The avatar Faux Pelini uses is Bo’s face Photoshopped onto a guy in a sweater holding a cat.  Bo has used Twitter to respond to Faux, and their tweets usually center around the cat.  So far in 2014, Bo has taken the cat on a recruiting trip, and the cat has hung out with Nebraska’s National Championship trophies.

But do we really know the cat’s name?  The Internet appears to have settled on Bo Purrini (which, of course has its own Twitter account).  Some hard-nosed investigative reporting by the Omaha World-Herald shows that the feline Bo raised to the Husker heavens is actually named Anya.

But my sources within the NU Athletic Department tell me that cat previously had some other names that went through a vigorous in-house screening but were ultimately rejected.  Fortunately, I found their list next to a urinal trough in the south stadium:

  • Tomcat Osborne
  • Steve Purrdersen
  • Cornish Rex Burkhead
  • Thank God @fauxpelini didn’t use a snake in his avatar
  • Tabby Frazier
  • John Purrpusschis
  • Nine (lives for the cat, wins for Bo)
  • Kat Purrbstreit
  • Jeff Meowkavicka
  • Kitty Bell
  • Court Ordered Therapy Animal QX935-K
  • Ameow Abdullah

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(Author’s note:  Wondering why there is a random letter in parentheses in the title of this post?  Not sure how this post corresponds to the daily letter in the April A to Z Challenge?  Like clicking on links?  These questions are all answered here.)

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