Like many Nebraska fans, my journey has been a lifelong one that was handed down from my father. Being an NU fan was just a given, and it’s a passion I’ve passed on to my children.
Growing up getting a chance to actually attend a game was a near religious experience, so when I had the chance to win the lottery and obtain season tickets with the North Stadium expansion, you can only imagine the pride I took writing that check. It’s that check and the money that I wish to discuss.
Over the years, it’s been a struggle to save -- and, at times, bust our budget -- to afford the annual ticket purchase, but we did it. There was certain pride in driving four-plus hours one way to attend games, and, yes, the move to the Big Ten Conference and the late games makes that a real late-night challenge.
Now I’m not writing to give you a list of reasons Mike Riley should have not been fired. Was he the answer to the football program's woes? Likely not. But he’s also not the reason behind the drastic downfall.
I believe it’s the kowtowing that happens with the administration and the wealthy boosters that steer this program. They believe money can buy championships. After all the years of having just two coaches, we’ve now run through more than I can keep straight in the past 15 years. Why would any solid recruit come to NU?
Not all the years with coaches Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne were stellar, yet we continued to sell out. All the years where Nebraska couldn’t beat Oklahoma, and yet we continued to sell out. All the years the Huskers couldn’t return to the national championship, and yet we continued to sell out.
We held steady with our coaches, who were committed to our school and committed to the quality of the young men they guided. Looking at the ring of honor that lists Nebraska's Academic All-Americans is proof of that. Yet, now we are in the mode of buying championships -- or at least thinking that’s possible.
Listening to the deep pockets of the boosters has failed and failed miserably. It’s not the handful of coaches we’ve made wealthy for getting put on the two- or three-year win-or-get-out hot seat that are at fault.
As a common man who saved and scrimped to afford the ever-increasing cost of season tickets, I’m done. I can no longer contribute to the coffers of a program that only listens to the wealthy boosters.
My annual $500 donation to the program for the right to purchase season tickets is done. My cherished nosebleed seats that have given my family pride will likely be bought out by donor dollars to keep the sellout streak alive -- and, yes, this does happen, and we all know it.
My frustrations are not with wins or losses but with the heart of a once-prideful program that has sold out. I guess that’s what happens when a college football program becomes a business. I’ll still bleed red, but it just isn’t the same.