Confusion Rains on Husker Football Opener
Nebraska was forced to cancel Scott Frost's first game at the helm of the program due to lightning.
A normal fall weekend for Nebraska head football coach Scott Frost involves football, as it has dating back to his high school days at Wood River High in Wood River, Nebraska. This weekend, however, Frost came out three hours of football short due to something the longtime Nebraska native hadn’t seen in his home state before.
Cancellations are becoming a normal thing for the Frost coaching regime, as his teams have now had a game cancelled due to weather in three straight seasons. In 2016, Frost began coaching at the University of Central Florida and had a game against Tulane canceled due to Hurricane Matthew. Last year, the Knights were forced to cancel their game against Memphis due to Hurricane Irma.
Two hundred and seventy-two days after being introduced as Nebraska’s head coach, Frost was prepared to coach his first game in Husker red after years of coaching in colors different from his alma mater’s at places including Northern Iowa, Oregon, and Central Florida.
Mother Nature, on the other hand, felt another week of waiting might benefit him, his team, and Nebraska fans.
Saturday afternoon, Frost, senior linebacker and captain Luke Gifford, and the rest of the Nebraska program readied for their first game of the year. All afternoon, the seats in Memorial Stadium were painted red by fans clad in their team’s main color.
Also painted red was the Doppler radar scan of Lincoln.
All week, coaches, players, and fans braced for the possibility of a storm front passing through Lincoln on opening day. As the game approached, the skies grew darker and rain began to fall, causing all involved to worry about the fate of the game.
Ninety minutes before kickoff, players from Nebraska and Akron took the field to warm up. About 30 minutes into that period, lightning struck within a 7.5 mile radius of the stadium. The strike caused officials to add 10 minutes to the clock for safety reasons.
As it turns out, those 10 minutes meant much more than extra time to warm up.
The remaining pregame time came and went without incident, and the two teams lined up for the opening kickoff. Akron kicker Jerry Fitschen booted the ball through the end zone, so the Husker offense and Zips defense lined up at the Huskers’ 25-yard line, ready to get the game officially underway.
As Nebraska freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez got his offense lined up, a Nebraska athletics staffer ran onto the field and signaled that the players should clear the playing surface.
Lightning had struck again.
Gifford said the moment killed the mood on the team.
The teams left the field and sat in their respective locker rooms as fans were left to their own devices, sitting in the torrential rain and gusting winds.
After about two hours, the PA announcer told fans the game was cancelled and instructed them to walk to safer areas on campus than the elevated metal bleachers of Memorial Stadium. An hour after that announcement, the official ruling was handed down- the game was off, and unlikely to be rescheduled.
Meanwhile, Frost continued to go over the game plan with his assistants, preparing for the game to be resumed. He also addressed his team, a normal weekend occurrence, but it happened many more times than usual.
After a Saturday that blew his emotions every which way, Frost was thankful the rest of his weekend turned out to be normal.
While rain was on its way to becoming a Saturday norm in Lincoln on football Saturdays after another game day was threatened by rain on Sept. 8, Nebraska head football coach Scott Frost hopes the only deluge that becomes normal is the one his offenses pours on opposing defenses.