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Mailbag: Thoughts on the Balloon-Less Memorial Stadium and More

May 25, 2022

The mailbag is here, and it’s not surprising the first question touched on balloons.

Red balloons, in fact. The kind that are released after every first Husker football touchdown inside Memorial Stadium. Nebraska Athletic Director Trev Alberts detailed why the balloons won’t be handed out for the 2022 season during his appearance on ‘Sports Nightly’ earlier this week. Long story short, there’s a shortage of helium.

We touch on the tradition of releasing the balloons in this edition of the mailbag and much, much more. Without further ado, here’s the mailbag.

Is it OK to finally let the tradition of the balloons fade away starting this season? (@Sal_Vasta3) 

Mike Babcock: Think so, especially given the potential environmental impact. Technology would probably allow some sort of virtual balloons, and Nebraska is doing other things to enhance the experience anyway. As with the third question regarding uniforms, “traditions” change. This is no different. 

Jacob Padilla: I’m probably not the right person to ask. I only attended a handful of Nebraska games growing up and I never got one of those balloons at the games I did attend. It looks cool on game day, but other than that it doesn’t mean anything to me personally. Still, I don’t think “it’s a tradition” is a strong enough reason to continue the process considering the problems it presents.  

Greg Smith: I do wonder if people’s feelings on this depend on if you grew up going to games and releasing the balloons. My first Husker games were as a college student and then in the press box so I’ve never participated in the tradition. I think it’s fine to let it go.  

Steve: Similar to Jacob, I never attended many games as a fan, so the balloon release isn’t high on my priority list. Traditions come and go, though. This is one of them.

Have you or will you talk to the staff and/or coaches regarding their time with The Program? (@lredeugene) 

Steve: In late April, Scott Frost briefly talked about The Program on ‘Sports Nightly’ and said he was good friends with Eric Kapitulik, who helps run it. Here’s what Frost said: 

“They’re a leadership and team-building group,” Frost said, “and they put our guys through a series of things to get them out of their comfort zone a little bit while teaching them all about how to be a good teammate, how to be a good team leader and how to get the team a little bit better.”

With the many uniforms that the baseball, basketball and softball teams have, will the football and volleyball teams soon follow? (@AirborneRk) 

Mike: Hope not. I’m a traditionalist when it comes to that, translated meaning “old.” For football, once a season is OK, I guess. But in both sports, what the student-athletes want will (and should) determine what happens. That’s the bottom line. I like scarlet and cream strictly, too, the school colors. Again, it’s what the student-athletes want, which probably influences recruiting in some way, too. 

Jacob: Trev Alberts has expressed his desire for a more unified brand across the various programs, so if anything I think we’d be seeing fewer uniform variations than more of them moving forward.

Taylor McDaniel was hired as Nebraska football’s director of recruiting. What does that position all entail? 

GS: That role is generally administrative with varying responsibilities. It usually involves being a point of contact on visits for recruits, coordinating those visits and activities and managing visit support staff. It’s a very common position that the Huskers just didn’t have for years. Senior director of player personnel and recruiting Vince Guinta described the role as someone to get the consistent message and story out about Nebraska football.

Where is the staff camping this summer? (@lredeugene) 

GS: It’s unclear at this point where the staff will be for satellite camps. It’s a safe bet that they will attend camps in the places you’ve seen them during the evaluation period. A stop in Louisiana, Florida, Georgia and Missouri are likely. Coordinating that with a busy summer of visits will be a challenge.

What are your expectations for Nebraska’s women’s basketball team with so many of the key players returning? 

Steve: With the core of the team returning, including the entire end-of-the-season starting five of Sam Haiby, Jaz Shelley, Allison Weidner, Isabelle Bourne and Alexis Markowski, there are naturally going to be lofty expectations for the team next season. Making the NCAA Tournament and winning a game will be at least one, I think. The team looked wide-eyed and inexperienced on the big stage against Gonzaga, and they were because, at the time, Shelley was the only one on the roster who had played in an NCAA Tournament game. Now the team is a year older and knows what it’s like to play in one. There were some departures from last year’s squad, but a few new faces added to the mix too, one of which is Maddie Krull, a transfer from South Dakota. While Krull, who starred for Millard South High School for four years prior to college, might not be relied on to score, to me, she seems like an excellent glue player and will play her heart out for her home state team. She’s a solid addition for head coach Amy Williams’ club. 

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