Paul Jacobsen Husker historian

Paul Jacobsen shows a few of his favorite Husker game replays, on both film and radio, in 2016. 

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In a world dominated by screens — small screens, big screens, larger-than-life screens— sometimes it is better to listen.

I know, it sounds crazy. Why listen to something, anything, when you can see it, right in front of your face?

"You get more caught up in the emotion," says Husker historian Paul Jacobsen of listening to a game on the radio. "You have to pay attention. Also, it's really all we had was the radio back then.

"If you wanted to follow Husker football, you were listening to the radio."

OK, so that's one reason. There was no other choice "back then" — or more specifically, during the 1970 Nebraska football season, which culminated in the program's first-ever title and catapulted the Huskers into a national powerhouse. 

Jacobsen, who manages Husker Tapes, has an unrivaled collection of radio broadcasts of vintage NU football games. Not just the defining games, such as the Game of the Century in 1971 or any of the various bowl games, but the oft-forgotten contests that quietly play a part in each special season.

Not surprisingly, the 1970 tapes have a heightened replay value.

"I've listened to them over and over again," he says. "I can pretty much rehash every game for you if you had the time."

Listening to a game is a unique experience. There's just something pleasantly different about being able to close your eyes and vividly picture a roaring Memorial Stadium as Johnny Rodgers rips off another chunk of yards or Jerry Murtaugh crunches a quarterback. 

Jacobsen's listening loyalty belonged to Lyell Bremser.

"Lyell was great at conveying the excitement," Jacobsen says. "There was something about the way he would describe things that you could relate to."

Jacobsen's favorite game recording to revisit from the 1970 campaign is a game the Huskers neither won nor lost. Nebraska, ranked No. 9 at the time, played third-ranked USC to a 21-21 tie in Week 2 action Sept. 19 in Los Angeles. 

"It had everything," Jacobsen said. "It was a close game, key turnovers, it had fourth-down stops, it had 70-yard runs. I mean, it was just an exciting game to listen to."

Another matchup that comes to mind when Jacobsen ponders the program-altering season is the Huskers' 21-7 triumph against Missouri on Oct. 10, 1970, at Memorial Stadium. Not far behind that game is a lopsided NU win, 51-13, against Kansas State on Nov. 14, also at Memorial Stadium. 

"Nebraska had not had a lot of success against Missouri," Jacobsen said. "That Missouri game was a slobber-knocker. They just hit each other.

"Kansas State was in the top 20 and back then, if you had a quarterback that patterned himself after Joe Namath in Lynn Dickey, you really thought you had something. Nebraska absolutely annihilated him."

Jacobsen has been a popular man during the pandemic, especially when the Big Ten voted to postpone the football season Aug. 11. Staring down a fall without football, many turned to Jacobsen for their Husker fix.

"I had a sports bar ask me for everything I had on the 1977 season," Jacobsen said. "I had the Husker Sports Network ask for the entire 1994 season."

Due to copyright concerns, sharing tapes becomes a sticky situation. But Jacobsen takes pride in preserving the program's rich history to pass along to the younger generation, especially his son. 

"He Googles them, and he looks them up," Jacobsen said. "He looks at the stats and the scores of the games. I guess I have kind of immersed him in it."

With football back on the table — Nebraska opens its season Oct. 24 at Ohio State — the tapes might take a backseat, at least for a moment. But that doesn't mean the collection stops growing, especially if it's for a game that continues to elude his stash: Nebraska-Colorado, 1966.

Have that game? You know who to call. 

Heartwarmers... and heartbreakers in Nebraska football's history

This article originally ran on journalstar.com.

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