MANHATTAN, Kan. — That was a little too close for comfort. … And Nebraska took longer than it needed to fully secure its 56-28 win against Kansas State here Saturday, too.
If you missed the Huskers’ fourth straight victory against the Wildcats because you didn’t spend $29.95 for the pay-per-view telecast, or didn’t make the trek to give Bill Snyder Family Stadium in reddish tinge, quarterback Joe Ganz had another monster game.
(Ganz, by the way, has been so efficient during his brief stint as the Husker starter that some are starting to argue he belongs with some of the all-time NU quarterback greats.)
Any way, if you had to listen for details on his latest performance — one that included 365 total yards, with two passing and two rushing touchdowns — then your vote for MVP should have gone to Lane Grindle.
No, Bo Pelini didn’t yank the redshirt from the Hastings, Iowa, product. This one’s on Husker Sports Network officials who pulled their sideline reporter into the radio booth to call Saturday’s action.
The reason? Play-by-play man Greg Sharpe, who hadn’t called a game here since 2001, when he was the Wildcats’ radio announcer, learned about 45 minutes before kickoff that his wife, Amy, had gone into labor.
Nine days before her due date.
“Earlier in the week I had made a comment to him, ‘What if this happens?’” Grindle said while he was packing up his gear Saturday evening. “And he basically said, ‘Oh, most likely I’ll just stay and do the game, and then get up there when I can.’
“It’s really easy to say that at the time. And then once the news came, I could see him get sick, like, ‘I can’t miss my daughter’s birth.’ So we went in the hallway, talked to Amy. Dave Witte, our boss, looked at me and I said ‘I can do this. You need to be there.’
So Sharpe got a police escort out of town up to U.S. 77, and made it back to Lincoln in time to be with his wife for the delivery of their third child.
Meanwhile, Grindle tried composing himself for what he said was the biggest moment of his life after his wedding day and the July birth of his first child.
“I grew up on the Huskers as a kid,” said the 27-year-old Grindle. “I bawled when Byron Bennett missed that field goal (against Florida State in the 1994 Orange Bowl) and went crazy when (Matt) Davison made ‘The Catch’ (against Missouri in 1997). Kind of a wild day.”
You want wild? How about the fact that Nebraska executive associate athletic director Marc Boehm took over Grindle’s sideline-reporting duties. And so there was Boehm, who used to do the same thing for K-State back in 1982 and ’83, quizzing Pelini just before the start of the second half.
“Boehm ain’t worth a darn,” Pelini said of Boehm’s interviewing skills.
Ouch! I wonder if he’ll regret that when the time comes to talk contract renegotiation?
OK, so it was all in fun. But if you’re Grindle, as much as you want to enjoy this, you know how finicky Husker fans are about their announcer.
So what was his game plan? How about letting the game come to him.
“In reality, for me, it might’ve been a good thing that I only had 45 minutes to prepare, because I didn’t overprepare, and there is such a thing as doing that,” Grindle said. “All I tried to do was be as simple as possible, and let (broadcast partners) Matt (Davison) and Adrian (Fiala) fill the rest of the gaps.
“I thought the first three quarters went pretty well. I felt in the fourth quarter I started to get a little tired, just because I hadn’t done a football game in a long time. And the energy of the game was obviously a little bit different at that time.”
But just like the Huskers, Grindle finished.
Not long afterward, an infant’s cry could be heard throughout the press box.
Could it really be that Sharpe … OK, now that would be really crazy.
Rest assured, he and his family were back in Lincoln, undoubtedly too worn out to worry about critiquing Grindle’s fill-in performance.
“I was glad to do it, and I was glad I could help Greg get back and be there for the birth of his daughter,” Grindle said. “I just wanted to get us through it and we’ll have Greg back for Colorado and we’ll all be a big happy family.”
Reach Curt McKeever at 473-7441 or email@example.com.