LINCOLN, NE—The shouts of “Go Big Red” echoed off tall buildings Sunday in downtown Lincoln as the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team celebrated its first conference championship since joining the Big 10.
The title (Note: this reporter was explicitly told not to put that word in quotation marks) came about earlier in the week when the Big 10 Conference announced it would not hold a fall football season because of Covid-19, thus creating a 14-way tie for first place.
“Big Red is back!” athletic director Bill Moos declared as an estimated crowd of 20,000 roared. “I knew when we hired (head coach) Scott (Frost) he’d lead us back to the glory days.”
Frost played for the Cornhuskers’ National Championship team in 1997, back when such things were decided with actual games. This is the school’s first undefeated conference season since then, and the first league championship since winning the Big 12 in 1999.
Frost told the masses that he considers this team to have finished with a 10-0 record. Sources reported that league schools voted 12-2 to call off the season; Nebraska and Iowa were the dissenters.
“See, we wanted to play and the rest of those guys didn’t, so clearly we won by forfeit,” Frost said.
When asked later whether Iowa should also be considered champions since it, too, wanted to play, Frost paused and then said, “Big 10 champs, baby!” before hurriedly walking away.
Most fans embraced the championship unironically. Fred Gering, a season-ticket holder since 1983, said there was no doubt Nebraska would have earned the trophy had it not done so via administrative action.
“Those other teams are just using Covid as an excuse. I look at our roster and I’m pretty sure we’d have beaten Ohio St., Michigan, Penn St., Wisconsin; no problem,” Gering said while buying a souvenir t-shirt. “The only teams in the country that I think could give us a game were Alabama, and maybe Clemson, but I wasn’t too worried about it.”
Brad Tomasek, holding his six-month-old daughter, Chelsea, in his arms, said he wanted to make sure she was a part of the moment.
“She doesn’t know it now, but someday she’ll appreciate that she was here,” he said. “Just part of being a good dad.”
Others just wanted to see what was happening.
“Honestly, I haven’t been out of the house much in a few months,” Amy Joseph said. “I saw something on Facebook about a parade for the football team but I thought they’d cancelled everything.”
The only other celebration held across the Big 10 was in New Brunswick, NJ home of Rutgers University.
“We made a big asterisk out of old beer cans and paraded it across campus,” Kappa Sigma Tau president Blaine Chalmers said. “Most of the guys were stoked not to have to sit through another [expletive deleted] football season. We heard about Nebraska doing a parade, too. That’s pretty funny…wait, they were serious?”