WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Bill Moos wore a grey overcoat and an easy smile as he stood near an entrance at the southwest corner of Ross-Ade Stadium before the Nebraska football team took on Purdue.
He stood to the side as Huskers began to trickle out of the small building that serves as the visiting team’s locker room, blending into the background while NU began final warmups.
Later, six floors up in a suite high above the field, Moos conversed with Dee Riley, wife of Husker head coach Mike Riley. He munched on a sandwich. He milled about in a common area with UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green.
Then the game started. Moos took a seat. The “football guy” leaned forward in his chair, hands clasped on the table in front of him, as Nebraska took its opening drive down the field for a field goal.
As others in the suite cheered the Huskers’ plays, Moos was mostly silent. The former Washington State offensive lineman stayed expressionless as the Huskers ran 15 times for 8 yards in the first half.
It was Moos’ first night of evaluation of NU’s football program, and Nebraska’s new director of athletics watched the Huskers fall behind 14-6 at halftime in a performance that did not exactly inspire confidence from a restless fan base.
Through it all, Moos watched. There was no jotting of notes. For a guy in his sixth day on the job, this was about seeing the flagship program of his new department in live action for the first time.
Moos watched Nebraska on TV as a kid. One had to imagine it looked a little different in person.
After sending some texts at halftime, Moos made his way to the television booth for an interview with the Big Ten Network.
Then, with the smoke still hanging in the air from a halftime fireworks show, Moos returned to his suite to watch through the haze.
Pierson-El remembers 2015: More than an hour before kickoff, Nebraska receiver De’Mornay Pierson-El walked into the south end zone of Ross Ade Stadium.
Stopping at the top of the “K” in “BOILERMAKERS”, Pierson-El knelt, patted the ground, then pointed to the sky.
It was at that spot in 2015 that Pierson-El suffered the horrid leg injuries that ended his sophomore season and continued to slow him as a junior.
A torn knee ligament. A fractured left leg. It was a gruesome end to a frustrating season, and the low point of a dark day for the Huskers in a 55-45 loss.
Saturday, in his final trip to Indiana as a college football player, Pierson-El appeared, finally, to get a little closure.
Grass takes a beating: The grass field looked mostly pristine two hours before kickoff.
Then the players began moving around on it.
The turf began to show wear in warmups, and was pockmarked with divots by the third quarter. Footing wasn’t a huge issue, but it was a reminder of how rare it is to see the Huskers play on a natural grass surface.
Nebraska will play two regular-season games on grass; Saturday’s game against the Boilermakers and the Nov. 18 road trip to Penn State.
Reach the writer at 402-473-7436 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.