Creative Idea = Full Summer of Good Reads

Eric Crouch surveys Mizzou’s Faurot Field on his 95-yard touchdown run.

Lincoln Journal-Star Introduces 100-Yard Club

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By Randy York

This blog begins with a disclaimer. I worked 18 years for the Lincoln Journal-Star Sports Department, so I know what it’s like to compete daily against a newspaper with infinitely more resources and is now owned by America’s best-known business magnate, investor and philanthropist. But the truth is Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha, didn’t green-light Berkshire Hathaway’s recent purchase of 63 newspapers because they’re a sexy investment. His company bought those weekly and daily publications because he believes in the power of local news, and I must say, few newspapers do that better than the Lincoln Journal-Star. Most recent case in point: The Journal-Star’s introduction of The 100-Yard Club, a creative yet solid idea that launched this spring, will roll through the summer and will whet every Nebraska football fan’s appetite into fall camp.

“Nebraska has such great history, and there so many guys who made it all happen,” said Brian Christopherson, the talented Husker football beat writer who’s “married to a wonderful woman, owner of a mischievous dog” and is closing in on 5,400 Tweets with more than 3,600 followers. “We wanted to try something a little different on Husker Extra, and we thought we could find a meaningful touchdown for every yard on a 100-yard field.” Like every great idea anywhere, the Journal-Star quickly heard that dreaded voice in its collective head, the one that says “Not so fast my friends.” Unfortunately, there were three immediate holes in the Journal-Star’s research of its own voluminous files … no touchdowns for 97 yards, 96 yards or 91 yards. But why let a 3-percent shortage ruin a fabulous idea? Fortunately, Joe Hudson, one of Nebraska’s most exhaustive football researchers, came to the rescue. The former Lincoln Star reporter and now daily proprietor of HuskerMax.com, could verify a touchdown for all three distances. Ironically, all three happened between 1936 and 1938. I would tell you right now who scored those touchdowns, but two of them were Husker legends, and I prefer you take the time to explore the answers for yourself.

The N-Sider has the Journal-Star’s permission to get everyone who hasn’t been involved with this ongoing series into it now. We’ve teased the first three entries of the series to give you an idea of each player’s identity, but deliberately kept the next 17 vague enough so you can open up the link and feel like you’ve just received a neatly wrapped present from the Husker history vault. Use whatever time you can spare and catch up on the first 20 installments of this well executed campaign that’s designed to sustain your off-season interests and build a bridge to the 2012 season. One highlight that will be obvious to everyone is a 95-yard run that became a Heisman moment for Eric Crouch at Missouri. We come clean on that one because we need a picture to put this rocket on the launching pad, and everyone would expect that memorable touchdown to be part of this time capsule anyway. This series will be exciting from the longest yards to the shortest ones and everything in between. Christopherson told me the 50-yard human highlight reel will include a certain Husker who helped beat Iowa … in 1893, for crying out loud.

Christopherson and I agree on many of the best stories, but you’ll have to open the links to see how good you really are when it comes to Husker history. My personal favorite is the 88-yard touchdown because I saw that 1962 game in person, and even though it resulted in a 16-7 Husker loss, it was Nebraska’s first sellout game in an NCAA record streak of consecutive sellouts that continues to this day. The player who scored that touchdown married the daughter of the Nebraska head football coach who preceded Bob Devaney. No. 2 on my list is the 89-yard touchdown by a Husker All-American who paid a price for taunting Oklahoma en route to the end zone. I will never forget Monday’s post-practice after that one, watching Tony Davis walk every yard of the field while asking the perpetrator of that taunt if he thought it was worth having to vomit two days later. No. 3 on my list is the 82-yard touchdown scored on the game’s first play by one of my all-time favorite Huskers. No. 4 on my list is a 92-yard touchdown that was scored in Yankee Stadium, and I remember listening to Dick Perry’s call of that touchdown on the radio. I was in seventh grade, and it was Nebraska’s first bowl game win in school history, a 36-34 thriller over George Mira-led Miami. No. 5 has to be Crouch’s Heisman moment when he turned what looked like a safety into a 95-yard gallop to the opposite end zone, leaving a small platoon of Mizzou players grasping air instead of his fast-moving legs. Check the Journal-Star’s picture of that run above. There’s a laser-like focus in Crouch’s eyes as he surveys the field in front of him. But enough from me; please take your own sentimental journey, one touchdown at a time (and send your favorite personal memories to ryork@huskers.com):

100 Yards: Niles to Go 

99 Yards: A Jolt from Joe

98 Yards: Jet-Fueled

97 Yards: Historic Discovery

96 Yards: Singular Highlight

95 Yards: Heisman Moment

94 Yards: Running Wild

93 Yards: Triplets are Born

92 Yards: Yankee Homerun

91 Yards: One Bright Spot

90 Yards: Long Gone

89 Yards: Bye-Bye, So Long

88 Yards: Historical Day

87 Yards: Butter It Up

86 Yards: Wake-Up Call

85 Yards: Big Jumpstart

84 Yards: Fullback Dream

83 Yards: The Untouchable

82 Yards: Game’s First Play

81 Yards: All-America Run

80 Yards: Easy Street

(Send your favorite personal memories to ryork@huskers.com)

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