About 100 die-hard Husker fans proved their patience Thursday, waiting and re-waiting for the Huskers to return home from the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio. Talk about it at Life in the Red and Scarlet Fever | How about that last play?

Mechanical problems with the plane, reportedly something in the braking system, delayed the Huskers’ arrival at Lincoln Municipal Airport about four hours.

As the team, coaches and other supporters entered the terminal, the crowd chanted “Go, Big, Red!” and whipped out signs with the same or with the new Husker catch phrase, “Order Restored.”

Matt Eberspacher, 17, of Lincoln worked through the frenzy to catch Coach Bill Callahan’s signature and say a few words to the man he hopes to call coach someday.

Eberspacher, a senior at Waverly High School, said he told Callahan that he’ll do anything to walk on to the Husker football team.

“That’s kind of what I want to do,” he said, holding the Husker hat he had signed for his father.

Said Eberspacher of Wednesday’s game: “They knew it needed to be done, and they did it.”

Tracy Klein, 39, and his wife, Melissa, 27, didn’t mind the delay. The two had just arrived in Lincoln for a cousin’s wedding and when they heard of the Huskers’ anticipated arrival, they had a few drinks and waited.

Klein lives in Long Beach, Calif., and bleeds Husker red, listening to every game on the radio, watching the ones he can and even scheduling his recent marriage for Sept. 24, the team’s only week off during the football season.

He couldn’t wipe the smile off his face Wednesday night after Nebraska defeated Michigan, a 10-point favorite, in its bowl game, 32-28.

“I think they’re back, and the future’s bright,” Klein said of the Huskers’ 8-4 season.

He agreed with a sportscaster’s comment after the game, “‘This isn’t your daddy’s Huskers just because of the style of offense and everything.”

He said the Huskers’ resilience and heart reminds him of former Husker national champion teams.

Avid Husker fan Kevin Schneider, 42, of Lincoln voiced similar sentiments as he awaited the team’s arrival with Addison, 7, and Jacob, 8, Schneider, along with his friend, Keith Turner, 42, and Turner’s son, Nathan, 11.

“I thought we had great character,” Kevin Schneider said. “I think they were really close together, and I think we have a great coaching staff.”

Turner, who now lives in Dothan, Ala., said he’s looking forward to going home to “get my puffy chest out” for critics in Alabama.

“I was afraid we’d get walked over,” he said. “The defense did a great job.”

While fans relished the victory of a wild football game, players like freshman free safety Leon Jackson wearily, but happily, walked off the plane and looked to snag some of the Famous Dave’s sandwiches being handed to them.

Like the patience and preserverance it took to get through the 2005 football season, so it was for Thursday’s travels.

Still, Jackson apologized for being a little late.

“We appreciate the support,” he said, waiting for his luggage. “It was a great game and Michigan is a top-notch team. We weren’t going to give up. We weren’t going to give up no matter how much we were down.”

Reach Gwen Tietgen at 473-7242 or gtietgen@journalstar.com.