The area of the stadium where Nebraska coach Bo Pelini has the closest interaction with fans is in the tunnel between the locker room and the field, and there did not appear to be any harsh reaction toward the Husker coach there Saturday.
Earlier this week, an audio recording was released in which Pelini was critical of some fans and media following a game in 2011.
Saturday, Pelini headed out to the field for warm-ups about 40 minutes before the game just like usual, and there was no negative reaction toward him. He looked into the crowd briefly, and had a slight smile.
Pelini went through his usual routine on the field of slapping hands with each player. He stopped to talk to quarterback Taylor Martinez, who was in street clothes and did not play because of a turf toe injury.
On his way back to the locker room after warm-ups, Martinez went out of his way to slap hands with kids waiting in the tunnel.
Under the North Stadium, hundreds of fans line the path from the locker room to the field for the Tunnel Walk. When the Tunnel Walk music began, many fans held up camera phones on cue.
The team captains come out first, and senior cornerback Ciante Evans carried a child who was part of Uplifting Athletes Day to raise awareness for pediatric brain cancer. Jack Hoffman was there, too. His photo was on the game program.
Pelini came out of the locker room for the Tunnel Walk, walking a few feet in front of the team. Many fans cheered for the coach. He veered from the center of the path to slap hands with a few kids, just before running out on the field.
There were several signs in the stadium offering support for Pelini:
* Team Bo. Stand behind our coach, stand behind our team.
* Then I saw his face. Now I’m a Boliever.
After the game, fans cheered as Pelini walked off the field with his family. He looked up, and waved to the crowd.
Hall of Fame members recognized
The Nebraska Football Hall of Fame 2013 class was recognized before the game, following an induction ceremony Friday evening.
All-America cornerback Keyuo Craver and All-Big Eight safeties Reggie Cooper and Russell Gary anchor an award-winning group of Blackshirts inducted into the Hall of Fame. Also chosen was All-Big Eight offensive lineman John Havekost, who helped his 1978 team lead the nation in total offense.
Nebraska Wesleyan All-America wide receiver Tim Beebe joined the former Huskers in this year’s class.
The Hall of Fame also recognized Ernie and Jan Thayer of Grand Island with its Clarence E. Swanson Meritorious Service Award. Most recently, the Thayers provided a gift toward naming of the Thayer Athletic Research Lab, located in the new East Stadium at Memorial Stadium.
Tom and Mary Hansen of Papillion were honored with the Lyell Bremser Special Merit Award. The Hansens have contributed to Nebraska athletics both financially and with the use of their plane to help coaches in recruiting.
Craver started every game in his final three seasons, and was team captain for the 2001 team that played Miami in the national championship game. His 41 career pass breakups are tied for second in school history.
Craver now works and coaches football at Lincoln High. He said being chosen for the Hall of Fame was humbling.
“It’s a proud moment for me, and I’m just soaking it in and enjoying it,” Craver said.
Nebraska had only one known official visitor for the weekend, DeAndre Scott, a three-star cornerback from Philadelphia. He’s 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, and is making his first official visit, according to Rivals.com. He's received scholarship offers from schools such as Penn State, Maryland, Michigan State, Rutgers and Texas.
Thousands of South Dakota State fans not only in the three sections reserved for visiting fans, but also sprinkled throughout nearly every section of the stadium, wearing blue and yellow. The Jackrabbit fans were easy to spot after SDSU scored to tie the game 7-7 early in the first quarter. Chants of “Let’s go, Rabbits” echoed through the stadium.
It must be getting tougher to sell tickets outside the stadium, in part thanks to there being 6,000 more seats, and because Nebraska has played four straight home games.
One ticket scalper outside the stadium had to use this sales pitch: “Hey, these seats are in the new addition. East Stadium.”