Herbie Claus will greet Husker women’s and men’s basketball fans Saturday.
By Randy York
It’s a good thing Connie Yori and Tim Miles like each other, support each other and share a funny bone. When two Division I head basketball coaches office right down the hall from each other, they better be friends who can share a laugh or two in between the extreme pressure points of a non-conference season. Both coaches, after all, are fully aware that things will only get tougher when both programs begin their respective grinds through the Big Ten Conference.
No wonder Saturday’s women’s-men’s doubleheader at Pinnacle Bank Arena will welcome both sets of fans with Herbie Claus before the game and then share the costs of a Flippenout Halftime. Flippenout is world-class athletes using trampolines to soar as high as 25 feet in the air so they can perform triple flips and amazing twists. We’re talking synchronized performances with snowboards and skis without extra fees.
“It’s the holidays, and we want our fans to have some fun and enjoy an extra little present from us. It’s our way to support what both fan bases deserve,” said Ethan Rowley, Director of Fan Experience for Nebraska Athletics. “We’ve also invited Herbie Clause to greet both sets of fans, so they can use their cell phones and cameras to take a picture before tipoff.” It’s a festive bit of cheer for fans who are supporting the Huskers at one of the busiest times of the year. “Our Spirit Squad has some seasonal surprises of its own,” Rowley said.
Herbie Claus: 60 Minutes & 90 Minutes before Tipoff
Herbie Claus will be in the Pinnacle Bank Arena lobby 60 minutes before Nebraska’s 10-2 women’s team hosts South Dakota at 2:30 p.m. He’ll be in the same lobby 90 minutes before the 7-3 Husker men host The Citadel in a 7:30 p.m. nightcap. “Even though we’ll have a little photo booth set up for Herbie Claus, fans have to bring their own devices to take pictures,” Rowley said. “It’s not just for kids. I think we all know some adults who would enjoy posing for that picture just as much as the kids.”
Too bad both coaches can’t be part of the fanfare. Yori and Miles would make a pretty good tag team for comedy. Husker donors know what I’m talking about. Miles and Yori, along with Nebraska Wrestling Coach Mark Manning, who also has an office in the Hendricks Training Complex, share a bond. They’re three Husker head coaches who all grew up in small towns and face the daily pressure of Division I athletics.
“It’s really fun to work with Tim Miles,” Yori told the luncheon crowd. “I very much enjoy him and we have camaraderie amongst all three programs who office together. It’s not always that way between men’s and women’s programs. We all have something in common. We all like to laugh, and we all enjoy supporting each other.”
Quick Response: Miles Is a Professional Comedian
After a Huskers Athletic Fund luncheon in West Memorial Stadium, I stepped on an elevator and made a quick remark as the door closed. “I think Tim Miles could be a professional comedian,” I said to no one in particular. The guy standing right next to me turned around and quipped: “Tim Miles is a professional comedian!” Twelve heads, counting mine, nodded affirmatively.
Give Yori some comedy club credit herself. Even though her team was flying to North Carolina that afternoon to play the Tar Heels the next night, she took a few jabs of her own to warm up the conversation for Miles, who would follow her at the microphone.
“If you don’t know Tim Miles’ hometown by now, you must not be listening,” Yori said. “Doland, South Dakota is so small, Coach Miles lived on Second Street and it was right at the edge of town. There were six people in Tim’s graduating class, and five of them were girls … and he still couldn’t get a date. He did have a 4.0 GPA, but the problem was it was on a 10-point scale.”
How to Trump a One-Liner: With One of Your Own
Donors laughed and then roared when the quick-witted Miles got the microphone and trumped one of Yori’s lines. “Connie’s right,” he said. “There were five girls in my class. I mean, I ended up taking the art teacher to prom, but it was all by design.”
That bada bing, bada boom exchange keeps two head basketball coaches laughing, and truth be known, it helps alleviate their daily stress. Their mutual respect has not gone unnoticed. “When you have two head coaches who play off one another in a very friendly way, it creates a good working relationship and a positive atmosphere,” said Marc Boehm, Nebraska’s Executive Associate Athletic Director who has overall responsibility for both basketball programs.
“Players for both teams feed off that kind of electric energy,” Boehm said. “They take the lead from their head coaches and find ways to intermix themselves. You see it at the training table, in the study hall and inside the Hendricks Training Complex. Connie and Tim both attend each other’s games whenever they can. They take great ownership in pulling for each other, and when that happens, people notice. Coach Yori and Coach Miles are trend-setters in our department. Other coaches notice and want to show their support, too.”
Historic Moment: Give Ed Hightower a Standing O
There’s another tidbit that Husker men’s basketball fans should be interested in. Saturday night’s Nebraska-Citadel game will mark the last time NCAA basketball official Ed Hightower will referee a game in the state of Nebraska. Before admitting you don’t know who Ed Hightower is, please check this out. Even Ed’s detractors will miss him after he announced his retirement last June. In his 36 years of officiating, including 32 in the Big Ten, Hightower has called games when Nebraska was a member of the Big Eight, the Big 12 and the Big Ten Conferences.
Yes, Ed Hightower has a flair for the dramatic. Yes, fans from everywhere have disagreed with his calls. But know this: The familiar face in a striped shirt has a doctorate degree in education from St. Louis University and is the superintendent of district seven schools in Edwardsville, Ill. Whenever the opportunity presents itself Saturday night, let Hightower know how much you appreciate his 36 years in a business that guarantees disagreement in every half of every game every year. Because Saturday will mark his last game in Nebraska, Hightower deserves a standing ovation. Before rejecting such a thought, think about it. Is there a better way for Big Red fans to welcome Ed Hightower into an elite club? You know what I’m talking about – a club of people who don’t live here but still know what it means when they hear people say: “There is no place like Nebraska.”
To borrow another famous line, let’s all join together and Git’R’Done!
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