"There is no place like Nebraska, dear old Nebraska U. . ."
So goes the first line of the ancient anthem of my alma mater. Nebraska loves its football team. Since there is only one state university system (several campuses in Lincoln, Omaha, Kearney and points west of there) the entire state are Cornhuskers. No pro basketball, baseball, soccer or football teams. Years ago there was an ice hockey team, the Omaha Knights. . . But you couldn't pack 80,000 people into an ice hockey match at the Ak-Sar-Ben Coliseum in Omaha like you can into Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.
Nebraska fans are legendary for their good manners and politeness. A Louisiana sportswriter in Lincoln last month for the 55-0 homecoming rout by the 'Huskers wrote things up pretty well. http://www.espn1420.com/SportsBlogs/tabid/3710/EntryID/6695/Default.aspx . Good for you, Nebraskans! May it never change.
But did anyone ever stop to think that we are talking government-run football here? Could we really call it anything else?
Here in Oregon, the highest paid state official is not the Governor, Secretary of State or the Adjutant General of the Oregon National Guard. It's the head football coach at the U. of Oregon. He's a new hire, in the first year of his contract. Salary? Over $500,000 annually.
Apparently, half a million quid is enough to give you second thoughts about suspending a senior player (LaGarrette Blount) for smacking a Boise State player upside the jaw right in front of the TV cameras after the Oregon Ducks were upset by the Idahoans. Coach Kelly suspended Mr. Blount from play for the remainder of the season. But only a few weeks later he backpedaled. Too much at stake for this player's career and future earnings, I guess.
And recently, a high official at Florida State University admitted that some of his football players had received "inappropriate help" with so-called "online courses" in order to not be academically ineligible. They weren't cheating, mind you. Just received "inappropriate help".
Just what is that? Exactly?
Colleges and universities are the minor league farm clubs that fuel the pro teams. Using a hefty injection of taxpayer dollars.
Just why does no one object to government-run football? I haven't yet figured that out.
Meanwhile, there is no place like Nebraska. We knew that back in college.