When Scott Frost was introduced as Nebraska's head coach on Dec. 3, 2017, the countdown was on for his first game on the Memorial Stadium sidelines. Frost, who hails from Wood River, Nebraska, played for the Huskers from 1995-97. Nebraska has always been his home, and there's something to be said about his first official Tunnel Walk as the man in charge.
Frost expected Saturday to be business as usual. For him, he's doing his job well if he's locked in on "game planning, calling the game, and getting our guys ready to play." That doesn't mean he didn't hope to find a moment to appreciate it all.
“Hopefully there’s a moment somewhere when I can stop and take it all in," Frost said on Monday.
And for The Iron N — the official students section of the Huskers — they hoped Saturday's banner would be one of those moments.
Hallie Lockhart is a senior marketing major from Denver, Colorado. She is also the president of The Iron N and the designer behind Saturday's banner.
When The Iron N started brainstorming ideas for the season opener, the idea of "home" kept coming up. Not only is Nebraska now home for Frost once again, but it's home to the students. Adding the snowflake as the 'O' in the word was a way to honor Frost, while keeping the message clear and simple.
“This year, and this season specifically, is driven by Frost," Lockhart told Hail Varsity. "The university and the students as a whole gathered around the idea of ‘home.’ I was able to design this one and for me, Nebraska is home for me. It’s our first home game and everyone coming back together. That’s what we wanted to draw on and obviously the tradition t-shirts this year say ‘home,' too.
"I think it’s something all of the students and everyone pulls from and everyone saying, ‘This is our home.’
The Iron N's mission has always been about innovation and trying new things. It's also about being a place where all students can feel welcome.
For Lockhart, that's what she hoped people would gain from the banner as it was unveiled.
It took three locations to paint the "Home" banner that was unveiled Saturday night in Memorial Stadium. Due to construction in the stadium, the usual painting spot couldn't be used and The Iron N had to adjust.
That included a stop at the 17th and R parking garage, another at Mable Lee Hall gymnasium and one final stop at the councourse of the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
It was the parking garage stop that proved to be the most tricky for the students who worked on it. After setting up on the top of the garage, it started to rain. The group quickly moved the banner down to the fifth floor and parked their cars around it. A few people tried to drive by, but the students did their best to wave them on.
As for letting it dry, that created an entirely different situation.
“We had to take naps in our cars and wait three hours while we watched it dry," Lockhart said.
The Iron N's banners are a labor of love, to say the least. After the "Home" banner dried, for example, the group would roll it up and moved it to its next location. It took many hours over several days and a lot of work.
It's also not cheap to create the variety of banners, but painting does save money. A South Stadium banner, like the one unveiled on Saturday, can cost around $2,000. That's a significant savings to screen-printed versions. There are some banners that are paid for by others — adidas paid for The Iron N's 1997 banner last season — but it usually comes out of the student group's budget.
They don't mind. They're frugal when they can be, but it's ultimately about creating something memorable for the student section and Memorial Stadium as a whole.
"We just try to be innovative and creative all the time, and that’s something we work on so everyone will think it’s cool," Lockhart said.
Before kickoff, the students also particpated in the football team's "Nolia Clap." It's a tradition Frost brought with him from Central Florida, and one he wanted the Nebraska students to embrace with the team.
— The Iron N (@TheIronN) August 31, 2018
The students learned the clap at the annual Boneyard Bash, and Frost is glad the students will be a part of this tradition going forward.
“Our student-athletes are an extension of [the student section]," Frost told Hail Varsity. "They’re a part of the student body and anything we can do on the field that doesn’t just involve our players but the rest of the students I think is good for everybody.”
The Iron N is important to Frost. He was once a student at Nebraska, too. While he never sat in the stands as a student, he remembers what it was like to be on the field and to have the support of your peers.
That's why Frost is all about creating the biggest and loudest student section Nebraska can.
“The stadium is always going to be full but the higher percentage that is students, the better off I think [we’ll be]," Frost said. "They’re the loudest and the most involved in the game. We need to have a home field advantage and most of that comes from the student section.”
That's exactly what Lockhart and the entire student section are striving for. When the "Home" banner unrolled Saturday night, it was the first step in a new era of Nebraska football. Lockhart, who grew up a fan of the Huskers, is just happy to be a part of it all.
Maybe Frost didn't have a lot of time on game day to stop and look around. His team wasn't on the field long due to severe weather (which ultimately canceled the game). But if he did look up for just a moment after the Tunnel Walk, The Iron N hopes he'd see the banner unrolled in his honor.
And the students also hope it will be the first of many reminders that he's home, somewhere he's immensely proud to be.
“Every time I meet a student or someone from around the state, those are my people," Frost said. "I was just like one of them 20 years ago, so I’m just excited to be doing what I love to do in front of so many people that I care about.”
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.