Full disclosure: I was born in the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, lived the first and best three months of my life there (mom was awesome), and then dad moved us to the Chicago area (thank you dad for saving my soul). We have lived in Ames, Iowa for 18 years and are huge Iowa State fans. Among other things, that means we hate Nebraska, our border state to the west. We don’t just dislike them, we despise them. For decades, we got beat up by them in the old Big 8 and Big 12 North (before they bolted for more money in the B10). Their fans were so obnoxious. Thousands of them would infest Ames when they played Iowa State because our tickets were cheap and plentiful back then (and theirs were always sold out). Some would even buy season tickets, use only the Nebraska one, and toss the rest. Essentially, they treated us like a bonus home game (or the only one that their fans without season tickets could attend). Finally, I have an opportunity to go to a game in Lincoln to cheer against our former rival (and I use the term "rival" loosely because we weren’t very competitive). Even though on Saturday afternoon, we have our true rivalry game, the in-state battle of Top 10-ranked teams with Iowa State hosting (Eastern) Iowa, I’m thrilled to be able to go to the Bulls game and cheer in person.
Thus, I want to offer some contributions toward effective trash-talking against Nebraska:
1. Bugeaters. Originally, Nebraska’s team was called the bugeaters. Seriously. Most of their fans don’t know this, so they get really bothered when you say it, as if you are calling them varmints that roam around the ground sucked up insects. Well, yeah, that is what we are saying. But we are using their own history against them.
2. Fuskers. This is an abbreviation of "F*** the Huskers." In Iowa, you are much more likely to hear them called "Fuskers," than "Huskers." A variation is the family-friendly "Huck the Fuskers" which also plays off the concept of what cornhuskers do (they "shuck" the husk from the ear of corn).
3. Living the 90’s. You won’t find a more delusional fanbase. They are still just as arrogant as they were in the 90’s when they were actually good. Seriously, they have no sense of reality regarding what has happened in the last 20 years with their team. They still think they are "this close" to being a contender for a national championship. This is vividly illustrated by their favorite attire – a Starter jacket that was purchased in the 90’s. Seriously, if the weather was cooler, you would be shocked by the number of fans in Starter jackets.
4. Scott Frost. He is their dream coach, a decent player for Nebraska who stumbled into some coaching success with UCF. Fusker fans still ooze with hope that Frostie is just what they need to return to the glory days. Here is an excerpt from huskers.com that describes their perspective on his coaching career: "Nebraska posted a 3-5 record in 2020, with three losses to teams that finished in the top 15 nationally." It’s not that they sucked, they just lost to a bunch of national contenders, as if they were one too.
5. Lil Red. This is not a mascot. Lil Red is an amalgamation of Nebraska fan genetics. He is them! https://www.blackshoediaries.com/2018/6/11/17447238/worst-mascot-in-college-football-lil-red-nebraska-creepy-inflatable-nightmare-fuel-stanford-tree
6. Cooter Ray. A local TV station in Des Moines, Iowa has a running bit that is brutally hilarious in mocking Fusker fans. Google "Cooter Ray Nebraska" and you won’t be disappointed. Here is a link to get you started: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=En6gGKjxICw
7. The Iowa Nice Guy. Similarly, there is a guy in Des Moines who did bits for ESPNU a few years ago that included slams on Nebraska. Here is a good one to start with: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpU-AYZSoqc
8. Sellouts. Announcers love to talk about Nebraska’s streak of 377 consecutive sellouts. Take a look around the stadium on Saturday and tell me if you think it is a sellout. For decades, they have had boosters and sponsors that don’t directly donate, but buy up the extra tickets to make sure it is a sellout. If you want to see a true sellout, come to Ames, Iowa on Saturday and try to find a ticket in the lower bowl for less than $500 and upper level for less than $200! Fusker fans absolutely hate it when they look bad in comparison to Iowa State.
9. Red State. Nebraska is a solid red state. They voted for the Republican presidential candidate at a rate of nearly 60 percent since 2000. Regardless of your politics, knowing this can help you have some fun. For instance, the bluest part of the state is Lincoln with those liberal tenured faculty members and student services staff members who hate it when you remind them about how red the state is. And the red folks hate it when you point out that the highlight of their year is coming to the bluest place in the state. Don’t get into the actual politics, just use it to poke at them.
10. New AD. Trev Alberts, their new Athletics Director is best known for cancelling the football program at the University of Nebraska-Omaha just a few years ago (and then reinstating it under enormous pressure). You can imagine how fun it is to suggest that he was hired because of his expertise in shutting down football programs! Also, it is noteworthy that UNO definitely made an upgrade by hiring my son’s namesake, Mike Kemp, to take his place.
11. Tom Osborne. Blasphemy in Nebraska has nothing to do with their nominal Christianity. It is all about how you speak of Tom Osborne. Not only was he the national championship-winning coach, but he went on to be elected to Congress. He is a clean-looking guy (think Lil Red with freckles), but a major power broker that nobody in the state crosses. The stories of paying players and lax law enforcement are endless. Coach Osborne "didn’t do it," but he also "didn’t prevent it." Don’t use this one unless you are willing to get punched.
12. Stinkin’ Nebraska. Most maps have typos for the city that hosts the university. It’s not Lincoln, it is Stinkin’! Don’t worry, though, about offending anyone by pointing this out. Only a fraction of their fans actually live there. Nearly all come from Omaha, Council Bluffs (Council-tucky), or the gazillions of farms in the state. They don’t like Lincoln, I mean Stinkin’, either.
13. West Wind. This one is PG-rated. Why does the wind blow from the west in Ames, Iowa? Because Nebraska blows and Iowa City sucks. For those who need some geographic reference, Nebraska is to our west and Iowa City (home of Eastern Iowa U) is to our east along I-80.
14. East Coast Arrogance. Midwesterns hate it when you east coast folks come to town as if we are in the middle of nowhere (mostly true) and totally out of touch with the civilized world (only partly true). Bringing some New York State "better than you" attitude is sure to be received poorly, but it is expected, so don’t let them down. If you east-coasters are nice, it will ruin our ability to think better of ourselves because we are not like you.