(Earlier this week, I shared Part 1 of my experience going to Husker games, which I had written a couple of years earlier. Here now is Part 2.)
Within two or even three hours before kickoff, I’m back to wandering the streets looking for potential ticket sellers, if I don’t already have a ticket, and I usually don’t. The first corner of seller inhibit Ninth and “P”, but these are mostly scalpers who I never buy from if I can help it. Many scalpers also make up most of the ticket selling crowd at Tenth and “P” by the Embassy Suites, although occasionally there are some individuals selling tickets. (I purchased the Missouri ’08 here). I head up Tenth to take “Q” over to the bookstore, and by then time I get to Twelfth, I have a good idea of what the market is like. I try to keep myself from buying until I can judge the market, no matter how excited I am for the game.
At the Alumni Center, I stop to watch whatever games are on. This is what I love the most about game day: the greater college football landscape. Across the nation, literally hundreds of college football games are being played, and here, I have my window into a few of them. Sometimes, I’ll cross the street to Nebraska Bookstore and watch games in the basement, hopefully sitting in one of their comfortable chairs or browsing the racks of Husker shirts while I watch the games. Most days this is just a waste of time; I have so much Husker gear already, it takes something really special to grab my eye.
Within ninety to sixty minutes to kickoff, I’m heading up campus, with an occasional stop by the union to use the restroom or purchase a snack or drink that I will sneak into the stadium in the pocket of my long-sleeved T-shirt (beats the two hundred percent markup inside the stadium.) Sometimes, I even buy my Gatorade from the vending machines inside the library, which is great. No lines for the vending machines or the restroom in there. I’m surprised more fans don’t know about it.
As I continue on my way to the stadium, I’m always struck by the number of older people who go to the games. I understand this typical of most programs that have been good for at least forty years, like Nebraska, Michigan, or Alabama, that the affluent professionals bought up the season tickets forty years ago and have held on to them all this time. I’ve been games at Iowa State, and their stadium is mostly young people, some with families. Here, it’s an odd mix of twenty-somethings and grandparents.
When I get to the sidewalks that surround the stadium, I start to look for a ticket if I haven’t bought one yet. This is where I find the private sellers, and by this point, they’re desperate. My preference is always to buy from an older person, someone who won’t bargain much. I’ve done pretty well here; sometimes as much as twenty dollars of a ticket to a conference game (Kansas ’08), and once I got a pair of tickets for free (Iowa State ’07). But I always try to be fair to my fellow Husker fans. We are on the same team, after all. Once my ticket is tucked into pocket of my gray t-shirt hoodie, I take to the soccer practice field and watch whatever game is being shown over the Husker Nations Pavilion, as fathers and sons amuse themselves on the field.
Husker Nations Pavilion in 2008
I try to wait until there are about twenty minutes until kickoff, watching as much of the games outside as I can. So I head in, my drink tucked safely inside my shirt and head for seat. On bad weather days, it always take so long to get to my seat, because people have to open their coats for security. I always hope for a seat that isn’t in the north end zone. Those seats usually mean that I will have to allow extra time to get to my seat, plus longer lines at the restroom. Usually, when I sit in the north, I just go around to either the east or west side to use the bathroom, where there’s no line whatsoever. Stadium expansion is great-as long as you have enough infrastructure to handle the extra people.
So with fifteen minutes to go until kickoff I’m in my seat in the sea of red, watching the people file into through the holes in the ranks of bleachers while the team preps on field. The part of pre-game that I love is the mass huddle of all the players before they rush into the locker room. The band routine is less important to me. Not that the Cornhusker Marching Band isn’t great, but I never count it a loss if I miss the band’s opening numbers. Tunnel Walk is a different story.
Band on the field prior to the Virginia Tech 2008