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Nebrasketball’s Bench Mob: Bringing Joy to the Sideline

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As Nebraska basketball continues to surprise, its bench continues to delight

Six-Man Bobsled looks amazing. Get on it, IOC.
espn.com

If you’ve watched any part of a Nebraska basketball game in the past month or so, you’ve probably seen it. As Nebraska’s “Bench Mob” stunts grow ever more imaginative and well-executed, the media has fallen in love with a part of Nebrasketball that fans have enjoyed all season long.

Of course, sideline celebrations and “Bench Mobs” are nothing new. Even at Nebraska, the Husker volleyball team has been renowned for its oft-creative and always exuberant supporting player cheering section. But the Nebrasketball Bench Mob is taking the concept to new heights, often featuring choreography that would make a show choir director jealous. (Oooo, new idea: jazz squares and jazz hands.)

Reportedly, Nebraska’s iteration of the Bench Mob got its start a couple of years ago with Malcolm Laws and Johnny Trueblood celebrating ostentatiously when teammates made big plays. The group now includes those two, plus Jack McVeigh, Thorir Thorbjarnarson (yes, his name is cooler than yours), Tanner Borchardt, and Justin Costello.

McVeigh, the gregarious Australian who has adapted to a reduced playing role this season not by pouting, but by becoming his team’s #1 fan and a prolific podcaster whose show (The Jack McTrey Podcast, if you’re interested) usually centers on interviews with his teammates, often serves as the group’s spokesman. “We kind of started as a joke, just for a good laugh,” McVeigh recently told the Lincoln Journal-Star. “And then people requested some more things, and we’re like, let’s give it to the people. Now it’s everywhere.”

Of course, what the people want first and foremost are wins, and happily, Nebrasketball has been churning those out as well. The Bench Mob views itself as a key part of encouraging their teammates on the court, though they’re simultaneously entertaining fans. Watch the shots of the Bench Mob during a televised broadcast, and you can often see whoever is taking a breather on the bench from the regular rotation enjoying the show off to the side.

So far, the Bench Mob’s greatest hits include:

  • Some Winter Olympics love, including bobsled and curling re-enactments
  • RKO OUT OF NOWHERE!
  • Revisiting the 90s with the Macarena
  • Kicking like the Rockettes
  • Awarding a slate of perfect 10s
  • Lifting weights
  • Leapfrogging down the sideline

Malcolm Laws says that the group does some advance planning, discussing possible ideas before the game. Sometimes, after a big play, one member will do a countdown for a certain celebration, but other times, they simply go with the flow when a teammate initiates.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Husker coach Tim Miles, who is well known for his bubbly demeanor and sense of humor, is on board with the Bench Mob performances. “I don’t mind it. As long as it’s not disrespectful to your opponent, I don’t really care. I’m glad to see them having fun,” Miles said. “I think the guys (who play) love it. They’re kind of interested in what’s going on.”

”But these guys have to handle celebrity now,” the coach joked. “They gotta be careful.”

I think they’re handling their celebrity pretty well.

Of course, not everyone is charmed. Twitter, that cesspool of people who eager to bash those who do what they cannot offered up a few criticisms:

If Nebraska’s bench players spent as much time working on their basketball skills as they do planning their skits, their tails might not be nailed to the bench. #iubb

— Ken Bikoff (@kbikoff) February 21, 2018

Their tails aren’t nailed to the bench, Ken. Did you see the air they got in leapfrog?

Nebraska’s bench should get T’d up. You can’t taunt and step on the court to scream at an opposing team’s players as they come up the court. Also, reminder that you’re bench warmers for Nebraska basketball.

— Dave Tucker (@TestudoDave) February 14, 2018

Truly original and scathing disdain for Nebrasketball there, Dave, but might want to dial it back a notch, since your team went 0-fer against said losers this season.

The Nebraska bench is an embarrassment to college basketball. An embarrassment in general. Clown show

— Michael Heilman (@Michael_Heilman) February 21, 2018

You can tell Michael is everyone’s favorite at parties. I mean, assuming he ever went to one.

Trying not to be a sore loser but the Nebraska bench is a disgrace! I’d b embarrassed!!

— Chad (@chouse2070) February 21, 2018

Mmmmm, kinda came off as sore loser-y, Chad, sorry to say. Try harder next time!

But for the rest of us, who enjoy laughter, smiling, happiness, and not being sourpusses, the Nebraska Bench Mob is a fun diversion in a season where most teams were anything but diverting, and we can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

Do you have an idea for the Bench Mob? If you’ve got one, throw it in the comments! Who knows, maybe your wish will be granted!

Poll

Which Bench Mob performance is your favorite?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    RKO!
    (14 votes)
  • 12%
    Bobsledding
    (7 votes)
  • 29%
    Curling
    (17 votes)
  • 5%
    Rockettes
    (3 votes)
  • 7%
    Leapfrog
    (4 votes)
  • 21%
    I prefer my college athletes to have zero harmless fun, thank you
    (12 votes)
57 votes total Vote Now