"Through these gates pass the greatest fans in college football."< /p>
That is the saying engraved in the stone archways above the main entrance to Memorial Stadium on the campus of the University of Nebraska. In one shape or another, it's above every entrance to the stadium.
Saying good things about the Nebraska Cornhuskers is something I don't typically prefer to do, but in this case it's worth mentioning -- and admitting. Their fans are good people.
In 2006 I was also able to make the trip for the last Missouri-Nebraska game in Lincoln. Before the game I came across many Nebraska fans -- young and old -- who wished me a good game.
But back then Nebraska was still the King of the North, which gave me reason to believe that these pleasant exchanges weren't all that sincere and may have been an attempt at mockery.
Nebraska's chokehold on the North Division ended last year and Mizzou took its place on top. For all intents and purposes, the average Nebraska fan had no reason to believe their team would win this year. Surprisingly though, amidst a low point in Nebraska football, their fans have remained the same.
My walk to the stadium this year was again littered with positive comments from Nebraska fans, all interested in making me feel welcome.
Not even a minute after taking my seat amongst the thousands of other Tigers fans in the corner of the south end zone, a Husker fan across the aisle wished me a good game.
I'm not going to be a jerk to opposing fans at Faurot, but to be honest, I would never do something like that myself.
It's certainly appreciated though when it comes across as sincere. These were the same fans from two years ago, only this time I realized I was wrong in the beginning.
I also had the fortune to attend the incredibly hyped Missouri-Oklahoma game last year in Norman, Okla. Compounding the highly disappointing 41-31 loss was the reception we got from the Sooner fans. They were just downright not nice.
I would have had no problem if they didn't say a word to me. There's no reason to expect them to. But the fans were consistently jabbing at us without warrant and turning our seating arrangement into a long ordeal.
This isn't to say that Nebraska doesn't have any mean fans or that Oklahoma is a bunch of jerks. But strangely enough, the first Husker fan to give me grief when I got to my seat inside the stadium was also one of the fans that applauded the effort of our team in the end and congratulated me on our success.
Following an embarrassing 52-17 defeat, one would naturally expect Huskers fans to show some animosity towards my roommates and I as we strolled through downtown wearing our black and gold.
Sure enough, there were a couple guys who felt it necessary to confront us about the situation and offer their two cents. But surprisingly, the vast majority of the college students congratulated us on the victory and urged us to lead Mizzou to a North Division victory.
Several hours after the game, I was intrigued to hear the news about a Husker player spitting in the face of Tigers quarterback Chase Daniel.
If this did indeed happen it's an unfortunate event for the Husker football team, but one I hope doesn't translate negatively onto the fans.
Unlike the Sooner fans in Norman, the Husker fans in Lincoln were able to help keep a great game in a great atmosphere exactly what it was supposed to be.