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Husker truck

Selden Trucking of Shelby has been there for the Nebraska football program for every road game and bowl trip, hauling the team’s equipment to the game since 1996.

You know how it is when you travel with family or friends.

“Who’s got the plane tickets? When do we leave? Where are we going to eat? Can I make a pit stop?”

It seems like it never ends.

You need Dan Van De Riet and Hilary O’Bryan working for you.

The director and assistant director of football operations at Nebraska take care of everything, kind of like the old Greyhound bus slogan “Leave the driving to us.”

Some 70 or so players and more than 100 others, including coaches, cheerleaders, mascot, HuskerVision staff, athletic trainers, and more, can sit back and relax, knowing everything is under control and there’s even a Plan B if the original doesn’t work.

NU equipment manager Jay Terry has the necessary equipment already loaded and on two semi-trailers headed to Chicago this weekend. He packs shoulder pads, helmets, jerseys, shoestrings and anything else a player may need into his portable world of large, indestructible trunks.

Everything else, except the game and whether to go for it on fourth-and-9, is in the hands of Van De Riet and O’Bryan and what they can do with a $1.1 million budget for five road games and six home games.

Van De Riet (known as DVD by many) has been in the business since he was promoted to director of football operations at Oregon State in 2008. O’Bryan, an Oregon State grad, worked with Van De Riet at OSU and came to NU with coach Mike Riley two years ago.

“You get to where you put out the bids for airplanes and hotels in the spring and by the time the season comes around, all you do is double-check everything and Hilary puts out the room keys and an agenda of meeting times, bus times and all that,” Van De Riet said.

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He makes sure snacks for the players, pickle juice for Tommy Armstrong, if needed, and the supplements that players take are packed.

“Pretty simple,” O’Bryan said. “I get to the site a day before the team. I meet with the hotel staff, check everything else — menus, meeting rooms and everything else — and we make everything go as smooth as possible for the team.”

She has the four team buses already at the airport before the team lands and has the buses running and waiting after the game is over.

Van De Riet added: “We take the troubles out of travel so everybody else, the student-athletes and the coaches and all the staff, can do their jobs on the field.”

O'Bryan has already set up plans for travel to Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Iowa.

She talks with the opponents' operations staff and enjoys the logistics of moving the part from Lincoln to the road game site.

“I love the behind-the-scenes stuff and I try to be ready for anything else that could cause a panic,” she said. “My family leaves it up to me on vacation, too.”

Van De Riet said he and O’Bryan work on flight seating charts so two offensive tackles are not sandwiched around a defensive tackle.

“That’s where knowing who the 5-foot-9, 160-pound guy needs to fill in the spaces on the plane helps us a lot,” he said.

“It’s a beautiful thing when it works and nobody comes running to us with something of a complaint,” he said. “And when the team takes the field and is done about three hours and 47 minutes later, we’re all set and ready to go home.”

Reach the writer at 402-473-7313 or khambleton@journalstar.com. On Twitter @PanchoHam

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Ken grew up in Chicago and is a Doane College grad. His Mr. Sportsknowitall column appears Sundays, and he covers a variety of beats.

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