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The Inside Track | T.J. Simers

Finally, He's Boarded the Big Red Bandwagon

January 03, 2002|T.J. Simers

I'm rooting for Nebraska today.

To be honest, the feelings were probably there for the Cornhuskers all along, you know, like Richard Gere picking up Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman"--Gere a little crude and misguided in his initial overture to Roberts but coming to his senses in time to express his true love.

So I kind of think of myself as Richard Gere here, and while it's probably a stretch to link a pretty woman with Nebraska in any way--certainly shape--or form, I have to admit, I've flipped for Nebraska.

I'm an American, after all, and Americans love calamity, chaos and controversy, and with Oregon's smashing victory over Colorado, we have the makings of a wonderful disaster. Take Titanic, for example. Everyone knew the boat was going to sink, and yet it did big-time box office business like almost no other movie because it promised calamity, chaos and ended in controversy.

To this day my wife insists Kate Winslett was speaking from the heart when she said, "I'll never let you go," and then promptly let go of Leonardo DiCaprio's hand so he'd drop to the bottom of the ocean. I say she already had the expensive necklace in her coat pocket and had no intention of making it a two-way split.

Of course, it's passionate disagreements like this that keep a marriage fresh. I remember offering to take my wife on a cruise and then climb the railing at the front of the ship and hold her high over the water just like Leonardo and Kate--if she agreed to lose just a few pounds, and you should have seen how that fired her up.

AT SOME point I expect my wife will begin talking to me again, and a win by Nebraska could be the icebreaker (that's a little Leonardo humor). A Nebraska win entitles every sports fan to have an opinion of who should be the national champion. The coaches, obligated to declare Nebraska champs, will probably be in direct conflict with the writers, who figure to declare Oregon No. 1 in the Associated Press poll.

Since it's pretty widely accepted that sportswriters know everything, that favors Oregon's claim as the legitimate winner.

A Miami win ends the college season without dispute, and with The Times sending 12 writers and Bill Dwyre to the game, I can't imagine anyone reading all those stories without at least a hint of controversy to make them compelling. I can't imagine anyone reading Dwyre, but I'm not about to tell the sports editor that.

Two days ago no one liked the Huskers--even though Nebraska gave us our first TV dinner in 1953, which means Nebraska is responsible for feeding me dinner more than anyone else I know. (She's already not talking to me, so what do I care?)

Nebraska also gave us Cliff Notes, which is appropriate, because it appeared the Cornhuskers were taking a short cut to winning the title. That upset a lot of people, but now after Oregon's win, everyone is rooting for an upset and chaos.

That means most of us will have to rally around Lil' Red, and while I thought that was the Huskers' nickname for quarterback Eric Crouch, who bears a strong resemblance to Tom Thumb, I'm told now Lil' Red is Nebraska's mascot.

I'm also told the Cornhuskers have a lovely Spirit Squad--comprising I'd imagine young ladies recruited from out of state, who will lead us in cheers.

As for the University of Nebraska fight song--"No Place Like Nebraska"--which would explain why President Clinton visited 49 states before going to Nebraska, I'd ask you to sing along with me now:

"There is no place like Nebraska, dear old Nebraska U

Where the girls are the fairest, the boys are the squarest ... ."

"WHERE THE girls are fairest?" Woo Pig Sooie ... oops, wrong school. Anyway, it's going to be crucial for everyone to pull together to bring this season to a chaotic conclusion. Miami is really good, and the other day I ran into a few of their players at a news conference, and you have to wonder about college players wearing more jewelry than Georgia Frontiere collected from her seven husbands.

Wide receiver Daryl Jones was wearing his Miami jersey and football pants, along with a diamond chain around his neck attached to a diamond-crusted cross, a diamond-studded school ring, wedding ring, bracelet, watch, and diamond earrings.

"The diamond cross was a gift," Jones said, and too bad UCLA's DeShaun Foster didn't think to call the loaner Ford Expedition a gift. "My wife got me the bracelet on our cruise." I went on my first cruise when I was 47 years old.

Miami cornerback Phillip Buchanon and running back Clinton Portis were wearing so many diamonds you have to wonder if Miami awards a jewel to everyone for a good play like some schools award helmet decals. I can only imagine what their girlfriends are wearing.

The guys from Miami obviously don't need puny little championship rings, which bodes well for our Huskers, who can win them and then spend the rest of their lives sitting around the pot-bellied stove explaining how they swiped them from the Ducks.

TODAY'S LAST word comes in an e-mail from Roy:

"I work near a hotel where Nebraska fans are staying. Herds of Nebraska females with nasty looking cattle prods are roaming the streets inquiring about your whereabouts."

What's the mystery? I'm at every Kings game.

*

T.J. Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@latimes.com.

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