The December 2022 issue of Hail Varsity is on its way to mailboxes now. To preview the issue, here’s this months letter from editor Mike Babcock. Make sure you don’t miss another issue by subscribing today.
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Sellout doesn’t mean capacity crowd on Saturday, as Nebraska football fans understand. That’s become dramatically apparent in recent seasons, as the Huskers’ NCAA record sellout streak has reached 389 games. The last for which all the tickets weren’t sold was against Kansas State in 1962.
Memorial Stadium’s official capacity is listed at 85,458, exceeded by the announced attendance at each of Nebraska’s seven home games this season. According to a recent report in the Omaha World-Herald, however, the most scanned tickets at kickoff this season were 75,051—the Oklahoma game, announced attendance of 87,161—while the fewest were 46,613 for Wisconsin, announced attendance 86,068. The disparity was dramatic.
That every game can be seen on television could be a reason, as could inclement weather, both underscored by parts of the stadium not being fan friendly. The biggest reason, however, and the obvious one, is winning, more specifically the lack thereof.
That can be offset by the optimism of a new coach, where Nebraska now stands. The hiring of Matt Rhule, with a clean slate, should affect attendance in 2023. That’s assuming the Huskers, who open at Minnesota and Colorado, get off to a good start before opening at home against Northern Illinois and Louisiana Tech—presumably scheduled wins, but we’ve seen how that goes.
For now, optimism reigns, and this issue focuses on the source, Rhule. Managing editor Brandon Vogel writes about the numbers attending Rhule’s hire, as well as a column about a coach with a significant impact on Rhule (Grant Teaff), while Brady Oltmans recounts how Rhule grew up a Penn State fan, for whom Nebraska caused disappointment but also earned respect. There’s also a map showing where Rhule and the initial hires on his staff have been and are coming from.
As always, this issue is multi-faceted, with Jacob Padilla’s notebook wrapping up a volleyball season with a disappointing end, and Drake Keeler looks at women’s basketball, which began the season ranked, had a down-swing and now is trending up, despite key injuries.
There are also photo spreads by the best in the business, John S. Peterson and Eric Francis, and the regular features, including a Q&A with wrestler Peyton Robb, Legends with Terrell Farley and Hot Reads, one of which recounts Sam Griesel’s performance in an upset at Creighton. Defense has characterized the play of the men’s basketball team, which Athletic Director Trev Alberts emphasized by handing out “Blackshirts” to Emmanuel Bandoumel and Juwan Gary following the upset.
Success determines fan interest in every sport. Nebraska volleyball’s sellout streak surpassed 300 matches in mid-November. For volleyball, sellout means capacity—even the standing room is filled. Maybe Rhule’s arrival will mean something like that for football.
The season’s fifth game is against Michigan in Lincoln. We should know then.