It Starts in the Trenches as Nebraska Prepares for Ohio State
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska’s Coaches, Boulder Memories and When Oranges Fly

September 06, 2019

“Holy crap, they’re throwing oranges on the field.”

It was 2005. Bill Callahan—Nebraska’s coach at the time—had declared the trip to Boulder, Colorado, as the ‘Restore the Order’ game for the Huskers. Callahan wanted to “restore” Nebraska’s place at the top of the Big 12, so he created the slogan. There were even T-shirts. 

But there were also oranges. You see, Nebraska defeated Colorado 30-3 that Black Friday at Folsom Field. But it was what happened with 10 minutes left in the game that became particularly memorable. The Buffalo fans were upset with the way the game was going, especially sections 115 and 116 of the Colorado student section. That’s when the debris started to hit the field and those on it. There were bottles, tennis balls, golf balls.

And, yes, even oranges.

“I remember getting an orange thrown [at] my head,” offensive line coach Greg Austin recalled earlier this week. “I got hit with an orange. I think they got at least one crowd penalty, they had to clear the student section. It was pretty crazy.”

Austin visited Colorado twice in his Nebraska career: 2003 and 2005. It was that 2005 matchup that was particularly memorable, you know, because of the oranges.

Austin isn’t the only Nebraska coach who has played—or coached, for that matter—at Colorado. Coach Scott Frost, running backs coach Ryan Held and inside linebackers coach Barrett Ruud all played at Folsom Field during the heyday of the two teams’ rivalry in the Big 12.

Offensive coordinator Troy Walters never played at Colorado, but he did coach there from 2013–15. For him, the memories in Boulder are a little sweeter than those of his fellow coaches. Two of his children were born in Boulder.

However, even Walters understands the animosity between the Huskers and Buffs.

“When I coached there, you couldn’t wear anything red,” Walters said. “Great rivalry. I told our guys to embrace it all.”

There’s always been a debate over whether or not Nebraska and Colorado are truly rivals. Even former Nebraska coach and athletic director Tom Osborne questioned its validity. When former Colorado coach Bill McCartney declared the Huskers a rival and banned red on campus, Osborne just shrugged it off. He didn’t take it personally, but he did call it a “so-called rivalry.” Osborne even went as far as to say there were “good memories” with Colorado, but that it was “probably never a rivalry for Nebraska.”

The Huskers’ current coaches feel a little different. At least Austin does.

“It’s certainly . . . the rivalry is there and the bad things that come along with the bad blood of this rivalry,” Austin said. “I think Bill Moos wants to bring all of these Big 12 opponents back to our nonconference. I think we have Oklahoma coming up. 

“I’m pretty excited about particulaly this rivalry because as an old Husker who played in the Big 12, this was the last game. It was the Thanksgiving game, this was the Friday after Thanksgiving. You were amped up for this game no matter what the records were.”

Nebraska and Colorado may not meet every year anymore, but there’s something to be said about the history between the two. It’s not over yet either. Regardless of what happens on Saturday, the Huskers and Buffs will meet again. In 2023 and 2024, to be exact.

For now, Frost is focused on the matchup of 2019. That doesn’t mean there isn’t something to be said about it all, even if it looks a lot different than it did when Nebraska and Colorado were members of the Big 12.

“This year is different, this team is different, their coaching staff is different, their team is different,” Frost said. “But any time Nebraska plays Colorado, there’s a little extra juice on both sides.”

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