Special Report - Tough Times on the Plains
Lincoln, NE -
A tin can rolls across O Street in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska, as the cool fall air whips into a frenzy. Sitting quietly on the corner, where 10th street intersects with Lincoln's main drag, 28 year old Myron Willbury keeps vigil with his thoughts and his faith. Tough times have rolled across the plains like a summer thunderstorm, much to the dismay of local residents who have stuck through thick and thin.
Unlike pilgrims of other religions, Myron's religion is Husker football. Clad in his trademark giant red foam hat and striped red and white overalls, the young football fanatic defended his mantra, which just a few weeks ago was shared by fans of Nebraska far and wide.
"Steve and Coach Cal have everything under control", Willbury said to the passing one-finger salutes of passing motorists. "When we're standing in New Orleans picking up the Sears Trophy, you fair-weather (expletives) will be sorry!" The Norfolk native's comments were cut short as a Lincoln city bus nearly sideswipes him a good 8 feet inside the sidewalk.
Willbury and the shrinking minority he represents are a rare sight in this town of just over 100,000. Beginning with the brutal loss to top-ranked Southern California, Nebraska fans awoke this past Sunday morning to the realization that they may have made one of the biggest mistakes in sports history. While increasingly popular in recent months, head coach Bill Callahan has suddenly begun to lose control of the very fans he won over just four years ago with his tales of forward passes and Super Bowls.
"We just need to get better", Callahan stated in his weekly news conference this past Tuesday to the grumble of media members present. "USC is a great team, and we just need to move on."
"What the (expletive) is he talking about?" stated a local media member who asked to remain nameless for fear of losing out on an all-access pass to the only gig worth a sh*t in the state. "I mean, we bought all this 'West Coast' crap for a while, but I think people are quickly realizing he may be way more full of (expletive) than he led us to believe." Callahan nervously continued on for several minutes, jumping from subject to subject quickly, and quoting comedian Carrot Top several times.
"Carrot Top has a saying" Callahan rambled as puzzled media members continued to buzz. "The only way to cope with tough times is to yank a banana out of your (expletive). Anybody got a banana? Anyone?"
To make matters worse for Callahan, rumors continue to swirl locally that the former Super Bowl head coach is actually not Bill Callahan but the grand prize winner of a San Jose based reality show.
"These rumors are entirely false" lisped Husker Athletic Director Steve Pederson in front of the waterfall within the Husker football offices. "The thought that a reality show contestant could coach a Division one football team is utterly ridiculous. Husker Nation is proud of what this program has accomplished, and will not relinquish momentum because of a few wild rumors." When asked to comment on recent allegations that defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove was actually a member of the UNL facility maintenance crew, Pederson feigned a heart attack and was whisked away by security personnel.
Across campus, the mood was not quite as positive. Slumped in his chair at Sandy's Bar and Grill, Cletus Milkweed was subdued. "What the (expletive) am I supposed to do now? I sent hate mail to Frank Solich. I told him he'd never win with the option. What the hell was I thinking?" His wife Myra was by his side to console him. "He's just devastated" said the mother of eight. "He got an 'Air Cornahan' tattoo last week. It was bad enough last year when we had to sell our truck to reverse his plastic surgery he received (in order to look more like former Husker QB Harrison Beck). How the hell are we supposed to go back in time and take all this back huh?!?"
Between sobs, Bartender Mike Porter tried to explain the mood of the state. "It just really sucks you know. We all bought into this 'West Coast' stuff so much; it just hurts to know it was all a bunch of (expletive) you know. This is exactly how I felt when I found out that Prince in Nigeria wasn't going to pay me the 3 million dollars he promised me a couple of years ago."
Back on his street corner, the tin can is crushed into the pavement, as Willbury continued to wage his one man war against passing traffic. "Leave Coach Cal alone!!!" he screamed, dodging pieces of flying fruit and sounding strangely like the transgendered Youtube sensation from a few weeks ago. "Why don't you people just go back to being Husker fans. Can't you see he's had enough?!"
Life on the prairie has always been hard for those who choose to call it home. Although the locals have managed to live productive and happy lives in the past, the simple events of public beatdown on national TV have turned things upside-down quickly. "I'm not sure what I'm going to do" sulked 53 year old Terry Thompson as he slinked quietly down the nearly deserted street. "Most of us thought Husker football would last forever. I guess we just all figured out that we've all been had. That weasely Pederson fella got us good."
(Thanks LA Times for the picture. Like I'm not going to come up with a story around that guy)