A winter announcement reveals that Big Ten Channel 24 will carry the Nebraska spring football game, starting at 11 a.m., not its usual early afternoon kick-off time, on Saturday, April 21.
We fans feel that this is an honor bestowed on us since our new football coach and his entire staff from Central Florida, Scott Frost et al, are now the Huskers’ teachers and leaders.
Our only problem is to get through the winter, until we can relax in football again, something terrific to fill our days and conversations. I will spare you my favorite sports writer’s quote from Omahan Tom Shatel, which lists the four seasons in Nebraska according to our football team, i.e., winter conditioning, spring game, fall camp, and the playing season. Close enough to give you the idea --- the mass of clippings around this computer are no longer manageable, not letting me put my hand on just the one I need and want.
What I get to do is tell for the umpteenth time one of my favorite stories, of Clarence Swanson, who came to Lincoln to the university to play football at NU, married Lincoln native Helen Hovland, thus Hovland-Swanson, Lincoln’s and the state’s most fancy clothing store essentially for women.
Helen Hovland and Clarence Swanson had two children, Kathryn “Tish” Druliner, and Jim who married Joan Farrar, from a ranching family near Hyannis. Jim and Joannie had four girls, one of whom married Bo Ruud, one of whose sons is now Barrett Ruud, a member of the Cornhusker football staff under Scott Frost.
Is that fourth or fifth generation? I do know that Clarence Swanson is the great-grandfather of Barrett Ruud, which makes it fourth generation, right?
I love the fact that the life of our state is deeply entwined with those who came to fame via our athletic teams. A long time ago, I grew up across the street from Bus Whitehead, his parents and sister, in Scottsbluff, so it was normal to identify with a sports giant in our state of only 1.8 million people, a low population compared to most other states of this union.
All right, getting back to the spring game: thank heaven for basketball, not that it is not important in its own right, but such fun does help us live through the cold and dreary days until time for the Spring Game. Which means, do you not agree, that life is back to normal, and that we can be deeply involved in our latest football team, this time with a heralded player coming home with his staff to lead the Cornhuskers to their former glory?
Evan Bland writes in the Omaha World-Herald that walk-on defensive back Corbin Frederick from Texas followed a friend and fellow player to Nebraska who told the press about his choice: “I’m not really worried about the distance. I want to play for a big-time school like Nebraska so that’s why I was willing to go so far -- for an opportunity like this.”
Ah, shades of earlier days when Nebraska was known as a powerhouse football team. Such music to our ears!
Coach and Wood River native Frost reported to Steve Sipple and other Lincoln sports writers, “It’s going to be a different program. It’s going to look a lot more like it used to look, if we can get it done.” Sipple then concluded: “Frost will bring a toughness and a no-B.S. style back to the program that is sorely needed. Desperately needed.”
Well, here we go. Spring game cannot come soon enough for all the football fans in Nebraska. I love to imagine such hopeful conversations going on in all the small-town cafes and elevator offices.
(Ruth Raymond Thone this week remembered a clipping that used to have a prominent place on the fridge door, given to her by a dear old friend who knew how to capture one’s raw feelings, this from ancient Greek dramatist Aeschylus: “He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.” She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org).