What one thing unites the state of Nebraska most?
Of course, in this day and age, nothing completely unites any group of humans – we’re made to disagree. That being said, there’s a lot that Nebraskans can bond over. For example, there’s our agriculture tradition – soybeans, corn and beef are popular across the state. But, this is an unfamiliar science to many in the urban Omaha area. Another example is our unique unicameral state legislature – but politics is hardly something that unites an entire state.
However, there is one thing that used to unite the entire state under one banner – Nebraska football. And it’s becoming that way again.
In December 2017 at his introductory press conference, Scott Frost (the new head coach of Husker football – haven’t you heard?) talked about the unity of purpose that the program once had.
“The state is hungry for unity,” he said, adding “We can get this entire state behind this football program, get this entire state pulling for these football players and excited for what’s going on.”
That may be easier said than done – especially with the presence of two other Division I programs in the Omaha area, namely UNO.
Already, a rivalry has formed between Lincoln and Omaha in every other sport. But when it comes to football, there’s only one Division I program of consequence in the state, and it’s under the same Nebraska system.
Even in the ‘90s, when UNO had a football team, everyone was a Husker fan – Omaha played in Division II, allowing for locals to cheer for both without hindrance. Back when the Cornhuskers were competing for championships every single year, everybody would watch. Now, with the program heading in a new direction, UNO should spare no expense to encourage its students to be Husker football fans.
It’s not as if UNO has discouraged students to be Husker fans. But when UNO moved to Division I athletics, it was implied that students should only cheer for the Mavericks. Last semester, a student group on campus even went as far as to hand out mock citations to people who wore the “N.”
If it really is Frost’s plan to unite the entire state behind Husker football, a good place to start is with the rest of the University of Nebraska system. For example, Lincoln could offer discounted student football tickets to UNO students. A more plausible suggestion would be for UNO student involvement to host screenings of Husker football games on campus.
Husker football does more to unite the state than anything else. If you’ve been in the state for any long amount of time this year without hearing that Scott Frost is the new Husker football head coach… you most likely live under a rock. Tom Osbourne is a state hero, and the quarterback is a household name every year.
In a world of uncertainty, conflict and strife, a lot of fun can be had by letting an entire state celebrate football together – united.