MINNEAPOLIS — We media folk get flip cards before every football game. They’re sturdy sheets of paper with each team’s roster, depth chart, schedule, pronunciation guide and other important notes, such as where to find the pregame meal.
Any game-time revisions to the flip cards usually are announced on the press box public-address system, or, as was the case Saturday morning, spread by word of mouth down press row.
“Wearing No. 61 for Nebraska today will be Andrew Rodriguez.”
And it will be somebody different next week. And the week after that. And so on.
Nebraska fans have become accustomed to seeing No. 61 worn by Spencer Long, a senior All-America offensive guard.
Long suffered a season-ending knee injury two weeks ago, but members of Nebraska’s offensive line wanted to pay tribute to Long by keeping his number on the field.
A different member of Nebraska’s offensive line will wear No. 61 in each of the Huskers’ remaining games this season.
“Anytime you’ve got a guy like Spencer, and he’s not out there with you, you miss him,” Nebraska junior guard Jake Cotton said. “We wanted to honor him and what he brought to the table and what he still brings to the table, and what he means to us.”
Cotton said he and senior Jeremiah Sirles first talked about doing something for Long, and the decision to take turns wearing his number was a collective idea.
“That was their idea, just out of respect for Spencer, because he’s such a big part of this line, and still is,” Nebraska offensive line coach John Garrison said. “We’re wanting to play for him.”
How much did Nebraska miss him Saturday?
“He’s an All-American,” Garrison said bluntly.
Junior Mike Moudy played every snap in Long’s absence. That amounted to only 60 plays.
“We were planning on doing a rotation inside,” Garrison said. “But, really, there were so few plays, I didn’t feel like anybody really needed a true break.”
The Cornhusker Marching Band made its annual trip for a football road game Saturday, and almost made it inside TCF Bank Stadium.
OK, they did, but settled for upper-deck seats in the far northwest corner of the stadium, an unusual spot, to say the least, for a visiting band.
At least they didn’t have to make the long trek down to the field at halftime. At Minnesota’s request, the Nebraska band did an abbreviated version of its pregame show before the game, rather than do a halftime show.
Members of the Nebraska band also assisted in pregame activities by unveiling the American flag across the field for the national anthem.
* You know you’re in Minnesota when it’s 40 degrees and the press box windows are open before the game.
* The cheering from the stands was only rivaled by that in the press box. Some Gopher press wags were evidently happy about finally exacting revenge for that 1983 beating.
* Basketball season begins a week from Friday.