e crowd mentality, which afflicted humans long before layout of the first gridiron, is beaten back in Nebraska.
"Fans around here have a long enough memory, they don’t appreciate a lot of booing or negative thoughts being said about our players or other players,” said Tom Osborne, Nebraska’s coach from 1973-97 and now its athletic director.
"When you go through losing, the worst comes out in people. But there’s enough positive tradition here, it would take awhile for it to take hold.”
The stories of Nebraska class — from Bobby Bowden’s thank-you letter 30 years ago to Jay Walker’s blog — feed off each other.
About the only thing Nebraskans disagree on is how the traditions started.
Knowles believes it began with Osborne. No doubt Osborne was as gentlemanly a coach as the game has seen. Midwestern values never had such a classic icon.
"He never viewed an opponent as the enemy,” Knowles said. "You treat people the right way. Osborne was around for so long, was such a big influence and beloved. I think people take their cue from him.”
But others say Nebraska’s tradition pre-dates Osborne.
"It’s kind of a Nebraska thing,” said Barry Moore, who was on the Husker sideline crew from 1967-88. "We’re a pretty courteous lot. Through the years, we’ve had to battle weather and crops, working hard. We appreciate having fun.”
Moore says the same atmosphere can be found at Nebraska volleyball crowds.
"They’ll applaud an opponent in the middle of a point if she digs one out,” Moore said. "They appreciate good effort of young people.”
And so tonight, the Sooners, win or lose, will saunter off the field and through a tunnel, where they will be lined by Nebraska fans on both sides, shouting not "you suck,” but "good game;” using their hands not for a one-finger salute, but to clap for a game well-contested.
Maybe the Sooners will feel the way some of us have felt after seeing the remarkable Nebraska tradition. Maybe they will wonder why every place can’t be like Lincoln but be glad that at least one place is.
405-760-8080; Berry Tramel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.