I was walking the dog in the cemetery when Mike Riley lost his job.
I could hear the P.A. at Memorial Stadium from Wyuka, a distant hopeful sound and then, as I strained (and failed) to hear the fireworks that would signal an overtime win, I trudged toward home in my Husker sweatshirt and flip-flops.
It had been the perfect getup for an early November home game with the most imperfect of endings, an all-too familiar postgame walk of shame.
Coach Riley was in my living room when I opened my door, looking like a victim of the opioid crisis at his news conference, many lifetimes older than when he arrived to the hype of all Huskerland.
I felt like I’d watched this trailer before, and not that long ago. Another in a string of weary Nebraska football coaches, knowing the End Was Near, still stunned by what hit them.
Frank Solich, undone by a 9-3 slide into mediocrity.
Bill “Throat Slash” Callahan, who came to save us but didn’t understand the Nebraska Way (or, more importantly, win enough with his West Coast offense).
Bo Pelini, who landed like the second coming -- our savior still on the payroll. We loved his fire (until it turned to spittle on the sideline accompanied by losses to once-unworthy foes).
Bo! How we’d loved you. We’d lobbied for your return with letters to the editor and “Got Bo?” T-shirts in the student section.
Saturday at the Northwestern game, at least one fan was wearing the Scott Frost version: Make Nebraska great again.
Frosty, Frosty you’re our man. Frosty, Frosty, yes, you can!
Enough already. Wake me up when the next athletic director makes a hire that results in rings on our fingers and sand between our toes at the Rose Bowl.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Bill Moos has the Midas Touch, or a pipeline to the next Nick Saban.
Or maybe the Hip Hip Hooray coach I watched ride a Stingray around the turf with a gaggle of Mad Dads kids when he was the new guy in town three years ago will be back in 2018.
But whatever happens, perpetual panic mode is not the best way to run a football program.
We’re like Elizabeth Taylor and her many husbands. Conrad, I love you, no, Michael, no, Richard, no, Eddie, no, Richard, no, wait John, Larry...
We’re stuck in the fade of the honeymoon glow -- he leaves the toilet seat up; she trims her toenails on the couch -- so that when the seven-year itch hits four years early, we call the lawyers and get out our checkbook.
Men in suits stand at podiums to explain that we need “fundamental changes.”
Someone who understands the “culture of Nebraska football.”
Gets more “quality wins.”
Can lead us to a “conference championship.”
Is in the “hunt for the national title.”
Can “compete at the next level.”
“Move us forward.”
"In a new direction."
“Maintain our traditions.”
“Restore the order.”
Who “won’t settle for less.”
Or “set the program backward.”
Shall we get out our line graphs now or later?
To refresh our memories, here’s what a booster had to say about Solich, soon to be fired by then A.D. Steve Pederson in 2003: “We handed him the keys to a Porsche, and now he’s driving a Yugo.”
One wonders what he thinks we’re driving now? A pedal car without a steering wheel?
For the past 20 years, we’ve been humming the chorus to “Glory Days,” still hoping they hadn’t passed us by.
We turned our backs on the run game back when high-flying NFL-style passing was the only way to win. How much did we believe? An incomplete pass to open the spring game at the start of Callahan’s tenure was met with a standing ovation.
A decade later, when Wisconsin’s running backs came to town like bulls in a china shop, we were the dishes shattering on the dinner table and we cried for the loss of our beefy, up-the-gut runners of yesteryear. THAT COULD HAVE BEEN US!
We spend a lot of money on this most entertaining of games. A game that has bound us together for better or worse since before our grandparents were born.
On our most current remake of “The Road to the National Championship,” I’m afraid we’ve determined that nice doesn’t cut it, especially when nice comes with a 4-5 record and a defensive coordinator who speaks in tongues.
I can live with that, although if I got to vote, I’d like to live with it for one more year.
And I’d like to add one small voice to the Big Red chorus of woe.
I’d like to point out that in 2017 -- 13 years and three coaches later -- we’re still riding the long, slow slide into mediocrity that we fired a coach to prevent.