Husker fans cherish the glory days of NU football; at least those whose memory spans decades and more.
It’s been a very long time. Husker basketball has had its moments and I mean ‘moments’ as in mere lightning flashes of dominance, success and glory in my lifetime which stretches back to flashy Stu Lantz and coaches Mo Iba and Slippery Cip doing combat in the Coliseum. This goes so far back the classy old building was long since handed over to volleyball which abandoned it, too.
Fred Hoiberg, with just one player back from last year’s roster, is wonderful medicine long-term, however his first game this week was a 19-point, 66-47 inglorious flop to U.C. Riverside in front of the Husker Nation horde at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The Huskers were drilled by a team that won 10 (ten) games all last season and was picked this year to land in the basement of the Big West Conference. Had you even heard of the Big West until now? That’s what I thought. Me neither.
I retain faith in Scott Frost despite the poor fellow’s dungeon of horrors these first two seasons. Despite the carnage instinct still whispers: “If Scott can’t do it, it can’t be done.”
Women’s hoops enjoyed a nice spike of national relevance under Connie Yori; however the day she was humiliated and sacked we immediately reverted to pedestrian status. A young go-getter coach inspires hope, but hope doesn’t feed the baby.
Baseball? Success has been fleeting at best and softball is gamely trying to tunnel from beneath a pile of coach-related angst right now.
Which brings me to the point, which is indisputable: Beginning the very day Bob Devaney came to Nebraska from Wyoming (at almost the exact moment a kid named Steve Moseley began to pay attention) the program that’s raised the Husker colors highest and longest is volleyball.
This column is officially an ‘opinion’ piece in our business; however the flat statement above is not opinion. It is hard fact supported by an arena filled with banners and trophies. If consistent, reliable Husker glory is that which you seek, search no further than volleyball.
From the program’s evolution since it was founded through last night’s home match vs. Northwestern, the only two coaches in Husker history, Terry Pettit and John Cook, have recruited, coached and nurtured a blip-free legacy of champions in three different conferences. What is it now, five national titles to go with too many monumental victories to count over the elites in a sport of which they are one? Exhibit A came just the other day when our Huskers refused to yield and felled the giant bully that calls itself the Nittany Lions by 15-13 in the fifth set.
Nebraska has swatted the country’s best-of-the-best like bugs and has been doing it for years.
Case in point: The national title match at Omaha when Cook and Co., won it all in a 3-zip yawner over no less than the Texas Longhorns. Nebraska also drubbed Kansas 3-1 in the semifinal round. I know this because I was there at courtside.
The Huskers have made Final 4 appearances seem nearly blasé these past few seasons, yet despite the skull-crushing pressure of insanely high expectations Coach Cook and his endless army of amazing athletes marches on unabated.
NU sports are a sumptuous buffet and always will be in a state bereft of any professional teams or competing NCAA Division I universities.
All the teams have been tasty here or exceptional there, but the entrée is and always has been volleyball. It’s the cherry on top, too.