Just some general thoughts and observations on a day at Memorial Stadium that ended with a rather grim feel:
* That’s four somber elevator rides I’ve taken this year.
With 4-6 minutes left in each game, sometimes later, most reporters on the sixth-floor press box head down to the field, with the elevator stopping on each level to pick up fans. The elevator mood always tells the story.
Radio play-by-play is piped through the elevator speakers, and when Greg Sharpe described Iowa’s final touchdown, one fan rolled his eyes and said, “Just as well,” as if he’d felt the final dagger himself.
Of course, one of those quiet elevator rides was during the Northwestern game, which certainly looked destined to be a loss.
So Husker fans have Ron Kellogg’s Hail Mary pass to Jordan Westerkamp to thank for preventing Nebraska’s first four-loss season at home since 1961, the final season of the Bill Jennings era.
* Boy, these Iowa guys take trophy games seriously.
I’d totally forgotten — as I’m sure many in the stadium did — that a trophy was even at stake Friday, until Hawkeye players, at game’s end, made a beeline to the Nebraska sideline, where the Heroes Trophy sat.
They grabbed it, ran back toward the southwest corner of the stadium, and hoisted it before thousands of cheering Iowa fans. It’s the first time this young trophy has changed hands, so it’s a new scene that had a definite Big Ten feel.
I’m not sure I’m sensing a true rivalry here yet, but when the opposing team puts as many people into your stadium as Iowa did Friday, that’s a sign, perhaps, that one is developing.
* A shoutout to the many stadium workers, concessionaires, ushers, etc., for enduring an eight-game home season. I don’t have the exact number of people it takes to run Memorial Stadium on a game day, but I do know there are some long, long hours, early and late. (My cousin is one of them, and she talked of a 4:15 a.m. arrival Friday.)
Some of the work is thankless. For example, I didn’t realize the people who hold the rope on the Tunnel Walk, separating the fans from the players underneath North Stadium, are merely volunteers.
I’d think that could get hairy some days.
Chad Scott, one member of the event staff, said he used to have that job. He’s now a paid employee who stands near the northwest entrance to the field, guarding a narrow door where hundreds of fans are squeezing through to walk behind the sideline, where they’re allowed before the game.
Their tendency is to stop once they enter, creating a jam.
“Can’t stand there! Gotta keep going!”
Scott said it about 15 times in the five minutes I visited with him.
“They don’t want to move,” he said, “and they want to talk back to you.”
I heard that, too.
* I also heard coach Bo Pelini didn't give the most gracious halftime interview. My thought for a long time on this matter: Do away with those things. They’re trite, and unless a coach is asked about an injury, largely uninformative.
* I can think of only one word for high school players on recruiting visits to Nebraska on Friday: awkward.
* Overheard after the game: “If this is my last Nebraska game ever, I couldn't ask for a better press conference to go out on.”
Those were words from a young up-and-coming TV reporter, but I guess could’ve easily been uttered by Pelini.