That was the final attendance tally for Nebraska’s annual Red-White Spring Game on Saturday. The Huskers had up to 40,000 tickets available for the day—just shy of 50% capacity—but Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos wasn’t too concerned. In fact, he saw it as more of a positive sign as the Huskers look toward fall.
“We’re close to 40,000 fans today and that’s pretty good,” Moos told the Big Ten Network during a halftime appearance. “Some people are still a little jittery and that’s understandable. With the vaccine and the pandemic hopefully going in a good direction, I’m confident that our sellout streak will stay intact.”
Moos said earlier in the week that he was “hopeful that we’ll be back at 100% capacity” by fall. Nebraska certainly isn’t the only program hoping that will be so. Other major Power 5 programs—like Oklahoma, who Nebraska is set to play on Norman on Sept. 18—have expressed the desire to have 100% capacity by the time the 2021 season rolls around. That would be a stark difference for the Huskers from just the season before. Nebraska was unable to host fans in 2020 as part of Big Ten Conference rules. The Big Ten opted to restrict attendance across the board, only allowing the players’ families to attend. In some cases—like Rutgers—even families were not able to attend.
Saturday provided some semblance of normalcy for Nebraska, even if it wasn’t quite the same.
“I don’t know who needed that the most,” Coach Scott Frost said post-game. “Us to have the fans in there cheering or the fans or the city of Lincoln, but it’s been too long. The stadium wasn’t full but man, there were a lot of people in there. The sooner we get back to normal, the better for everybody. That was a good first step in the right direction.
“Thank you to the fans. I know it adds a lot to the player experience and the coaching experience when they’re in there. We appreciate you.”
The players also appreciated having the fans in the stands. As the team left the field following the White Team’s comeback win, 21-20, players stopped to sign autographs, toss gloves to the crowd and just say hi to those that had stuck around to see them.
For cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt, it wasn’t just a welcome sight to have the fans back. It was all about the energy that those fans bring with them. When asked, he couldn’t help but smile.
“I don’t know how many times people have asked me that, but it’s crazy just seeing people back in the stands,” Taylor-Britt said. “Walking out in the Tunnel Walk, like last year? You didn’t see anybody but the camera crews and everything else but it wasn’t exciting. Of course you would have the teams’ energies from both sides but the fans’ energy is something else and we needed that.
“You felt that walking into the stadium today.”
The theme for Saturday’s Tunnel Walk video was a simple one. As Frost walked toward the camera, he threw his arms to the side.
“Welcome back,” he said with a smile.
The crowd of 36,406 Nebraska fans cheered loudly for that one. The stands may not have been full, but those in attendance were just happy to be there. Could Nebraska welcome back even more fans this fall? Only time will tell, but Moos sees Saturday’s spring game as a step in the right direction.
“Nebraska needs football and we are Nebraska’s football team,” Moos said. “They’re itching to get back here and we’re going to welcome them just as we did today.”
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.