Let's be honest, the reason I am on the Off Tackle Empire team has little to do with my charm, good looks, and/or my affinity for the fullback dive. While each of these things might give me a small piece of legitimacy as to why anyone would want to read about my views on the conference, Nebraska-related or not, I must admit I am here because Nebraska was invited and I was a readily available member of the 'Sane-Nebraska' group. Jon and Graham are smart guys and picked me up off the waiver wires and away we have gone. Still, the thing about this whole addition to the OTE team was, as it generally is in the NCAA Conference Expansion world, all about my football fandom. I was/am a generally sane football fan. I understand things are never nearly as bad or half as good as the general public perceives them to be. I can and generally do try to keep to this path. Then we had to go ahead and add basketball to our coverage. Nebrasketball Jesse is an entirely different beast altogether. Fans at Penn State nod furiously in agreement.
A drug person can learn to cope with things like seeing their dead grandmother crawling up their leg with a knife in her teeth. But no one should be asked to handle this trip. -- Raoul Duke
As I discussed towards the beginning of the conference season, being a Nebrasketball fan can be a tough ride. This time, I think of it kind of like being Raoul Duke. You keep taking these drugs and expecting the escape to be worth it, but with each successive pill (game), drop (missed opportunity), and puff (fastbreak that is ultimately blown because you are Nebrasketball), you quickly realize that things have spiraled out of control. This is aided by the already understood horror of a bad trip -- something in Nebraska we call conference play. Of course there are always highlights. Beating Indiana, Kansas, Texas, Texas A&M, Missouri, etc., all have their moments of glory and glimpses of the nirvana we so long for. Ultimately, however, they are overshadowed by those really bad trips -- the losses that just stick with you.
When I came to, the general back-alley ambience of the suite was so rotten, so incredibly foul. How long had I been lying there? All these signs of violence. What had happened? There was evidence in this room of excessive consumption of almost every type of drug known to civilized man since 1544 AD. What kind of addict would need all these coconut husks and crushed honeydew rinds? Would the presence of junkies account for all these uneaten french fries? These puddles of glazed ketchup on the bureau? Maybe so. But then why all this booze? And these crude pornographic photos smeared with mustard that had dried to a hard yellow crust? These were not the hoofprints of your average God-fearing junky. It was too savage. Too aggressive. -- Raoul Duke
All this to say, I am petrified of what happens tomorrow versus Penn State. Look, I get that this is a home game with very little implications for post-season play for either team and that even if Nebraska loses, it means very little about the short and/or long term prospects for Tim Miles and the guys. Still, do I want to be a part of Penn State's potential 1-win season? How about the first win for a 2-win team? Conversely, Penn State fans can probably empathize. Tomorrow is really their most winnable game for the rest of the season. If they lose here, they have much better teams coming. In fact, arguably, Northwestern would be the closest thing to a win after this (or Iowa depending on how good we know them to be). Still, those fans who stick by basketball are just muddling through this murky place -- a dark fear of what is to come. Nobody should have to deal with this trip.
The decision to flee came suddenly. Or maybe not. Maybe I had planned it all along, subconsciously waiting for the right moment. The bill was a factor, I think because I had no money to pay for it. Our room service tabs had been running somewhere between 29 and 36 dollars per hour for 48 consecutive hours. Incredible. How could it happen? But by the time I asked this question, there was no one around to answer it. That rotten attorney of mine, Dr. Gonzo, was gone. He must have sensed trouble. -- Raoul Duke
Look, I don't plan on bailing on my Nebrasketball fandom anytime soon and I do think things will get better. The first matchup between Penn State and Nebraska was infuriating, but the Huskers got a win. Looking at tomorrow's matchup, Nebraska really should pull away, but nothing is a sure thing when you're the dregs of the conference totem pole. We keep talking about the Big Ten being the best basketball conference in the nation, and with all the upsets and depth, that is an absolutely fair assessment. If Illinois goes on a little run here, we can totally see a finish here where seven teams make the tournament. With that said, it's gonna be ugly down here on the bottom for the rest of the year. Personally, I'm just hoping I haven't waited too long to bail. Surely there is light at the end of the tunnel, right?
FWIW: My prediction for tomorrow's game is 62-52 Nebraska with Talley and Gallegos taking 35 shots combined to score 35 points. I have no idea where the other points come from in this scenario, but I'm still hoping. Let's just say I am not overly excited to find tomorrows game on some random sports bar television because Cox Cable doesn't have ESPNU on their first tier and I am too cheap to buy into games like Penn State-Nebraska basketball on a consistent basis.