By Randy York
We asked, you voted and it is now official – a Memorial Stadium sunset will be the iconic photograph that will be printed on Husker football tickets for the September 27th Homecoming Game against Illinois to commemorate the 125th season of Nebraska football this fall. “We had seven iconic choices, and the vote was lopsided from the minute we published the photos until the voting ended a week later,” said Kelly Mosier, Nebraska Athletics’ Director of Digital Communications. Lincoln’s Doug Prange shot an aerial photograph from the renovated East Stadium side while the sun was setting behind the West Stadium. The photo became the runaway winner as the NU icon for Homecoming weekend next fall.
Prange’s shot earned 62 percent of the total vote from Nebraska fans, primarily on Facebook and through Twitter. Here’s a breakdown of the rest of the voting: 2) a photo of Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne together (14 percent); 3) a photo of Nebraska’s first football team in 1890 (9 percent); 4) a photo of NU’s five National Championship Trophies (7 percent); 5) a photo of Osborne (5 percent); and 6/7) two photos that each received 1 percent of the overall vote – one of Devaney and one of the 1923 dedication photo of Memorial Stadium.
My reaction to the fans, in effect, saluting themselves is positive. In preparing for our 91st season since Memorial Stadium was built, the home of Nebraska football has nearly tripled in size. In 1962, when Devaney arrived and a 51-year ongoing NCAA home football sellout streak began, stadium capacity was 36,501. In the next three years, Nebraska added South end zone bleachers to create a horseshoe effect while erecting a center section for the North end zone bleachers to increase capacity to 52,455. A year later, capacity reached 62,644 and by the time Devaney was ready to retire as head coach in 1972, capacity was 73,650. The Osborne Era as both a head coach and director of athletics helped boost capacity to more than 87,000 and enabled crowd averages to reach 91,000 consistently.
Through more than half a century, Nebraska has sold out 333 consecutive home football games. Big Red fans are rightfully proud of their unprecedented accomplishment. The Cornhuskers also have the most wins and highest winning percentage of any college football program over the last 50 years. Dozens of Division I schools have Hall-of-Fame coaches and multiple Heisman Trophy winners and All-Americans. But only Nebraska has sold out its stadium since 1962 when John F. Kennedy was president; Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a single NBA basketball game; the first Walmart store opened for business in Rogers, Arkansas; the Cuban Missile Crisis ended; and Johnny Carson, an NU graduate and devout Big Red fan, took over as permanent host of The Tonight Show.
Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom have kept Big Red fans from filling the stadium over the past 51 years. They are indeed the one continuous link that has supported Nebraska football through every one of its first 125 seasons. They deserve to be the Homecoming icon.
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