Sunday, April 10, 2011

Nebraska's Spring Game is a Week Away: Does Anybody Care?

I have to admit that I'm somewhat surprised by the relative lack of interest in this weekend's Husker spring game. I say "relative" because ticket sales actually aren't that bad.  It appears that the two end zones are two-thirds sold out at this point, so I'd guestimate ticket sales at roughly 65,000. A pretty good total, mind you...but considering the interest in recent years, it's a little lower than we've seen.  Heck, three years ago, it was sold out at this point.

My guess is that we're seeing a little bit of the hangover from the depressing end to the 2010 season. In early October, Nebraska fans were thinking that the Huskers could enter the national championship discussion. Even in early November, Husker fans still held out some hope. But after the A&M meltdown, that hope disappeared. A BCS bowl berth looked reasonable until the offense went AWOL at halftime against Oklahoma.

Then there was that Holiday Bowl performance that looked like something out of one of the National Lampoon "Vacation" movies with Clark W. Griswold. The offense reduced to the football equivalent of the WagonQueen Family Truckster, a mere parody of it's earlier season production. So exit Shawn Watson and the remnants of the West Coast Offense.  Exit Ted Gilmore and receivers who, frankly, couldn't catch a cold.  That should rekindle interest, right?

Perhaps. But I get the feeling that people now realize that the spring game isn't so much a preview of the upcoming season, but rather a celebration of Husker football. We're not going to see much of the new playbook, if anything. In fact, what we will see will look somewhat familiar to what we saw last season in terms of X's and O's. I don't think the new playbook is going to be different in the what the players do, but rather the players will have a better idea of why they do it, and hopefully be better schooled in how they do it.

In the end, it's still a scrimmage. Bill Callahan pretty much destroyed my interest in the spring game with his sacrifices of the scout teams. Bo Pelini tries to make things more competitive, but he also doesn't want to show anything either. (Hence, why we won't see the game televised, though I think that's also because they want fans to buy a ticket instead of stay home and watch on television.)

What does interest me about the spring game? Simple: kids. They don't care that it's a scrimmage. They get to tailgate, clap along with the band, run on the field at halftime, and get a taste of football.  All for only $10 (unlike a regular season game), which makes it a great deal for families. So we've got our tickets, and hopefully the weather holds. (Initial weather forecasts don't look so hot; temperatures in the upper 40's.)

If anything, it's just a reminder that we're nearly halfway through the offseason; just four and a half months until the season begins. (OK, since the first game is against Chattanooga, we'll just say it's five months from today until the first "real" game against Fresno State...)

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