Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were. –Marcel Proust
Though a boxing match might not seem an appropriate subject for quoting Proust, perhaps, it is a place to begin . . .
That’s the start to one of editor Mike Babcock’s features in the Hail Varsity 2019 Husker Football Yearbook, and it is a place to begin here, too. I doubt you can buy another football preview this year that includes Proust and that “might not seem an appropriate subject,” but trust me. It belongs. You’ll see after you read the story.
Imagine if after last football season two members of the Nebraska football team got into a friendly sort of debate over some detail or another. It’s the type of debate that happens all the time when you’re 20, and, as happens as often, nobody is willing to back down. The debate becomes a bet and the bet will be decided by a boxing match. There will be a ring, a real referee, a ring announcer, cornermen and, of course, the two Huskers who will negotiate the weight of the gloves and then slug it out in the Nebraska football facilities for 10 rounds.
No way anyone would let that bout happen, right? Well, it happened in 1971, not even a month after Nebraska had claimed its first football national title. Mike wrote about it. It’s why Proust is in the magazine.
There’s a lot more in the 2019 Yearbook worth considering as well. Here are just a few of the highlights:
>>Recruiting analyst Greg Smith got together with a few members of the Husker coaching staff to gain a better understanding of exactly what it takes for a prospect to end up on Nebraska’s recruiting board. If you’ve ever wondered what it takes for a player to receive a Husker scholarship offer, this story takes you through it from film evaluation to first contact to offer.
>>Mike has another feature in this edition and he delivers in his second at-bat as well, telling the story of Leisa Knudsen. She was a high school classmate of Husker great Roger Craig. Twenty-four years on from her initial cancer diagnosis, Knudsen is still dealing with effects of her treatment, but she has taken on a special project of late: She is trying to get Craig in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and her efforts go far beyond some simple letter writing. (If you already know you agree with Knudsen and that Craig belongs in the Hall of Fame, you can sign her petition here.)
>>Staff writer Derek Peterson has what will go down as the definitive account of the moment that changed Nebraska’s 2018 season (and maybe the seasons to come). You probably know the moment, but here’s how it went down from the perspective of the 2018 Husker captains. There’s a lot to talk about once you get a chance to read this.
>>Deputy editor Erin Sorensen provided our cover feature. She followed Adrian Martinez for a day this spring, from arriving for a spring practice before dawn through to the moment, much later, that Nebraska’s quarterback finally gets to go home. It’s an eye-opening look at the real life of a student-athlete.
>>In addition to the features, we also have a full preview of the Big Ten and Nebraska’s nonconference opponents as well as a position-by-position breakdowns of the 2019 Huskers featuring the stunning portraits of photographer Paul Bellinger. His work also graces the cover.
This is the 100th issue of Hail Varsity. I’ve been fortunate to have been involved with all of them, and I really do believe the 2019 Yearbook represents 184 pages of our best work. You definitely don’t want to miss it if you love Nebraska football.
If you subscribe by the end of the day on June 16, you’ll get the Yearbook as part of your 10 (or 20, or 30) issues. As always, thanks for reading.
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.