#GOG (Go Old Gold)

Golf equipment is a terrible Christmas gift for Nebraskans. Opening a Taylormade driver is always exciting . . . and that is the problem. You are just itching to go hit some balls with your new club then you look outside to realize that there is a foot of snow on the ground.  

I try to find other things to get my mind off of golf. Basketball usually gets me through the winter. Then The Masters rolls around and I spend four days glued to the television, dreaming of sunshine, azaleas and my new driver. As soon as Sunday’s final round is in the books, I’m headed out the door to the range. Then I look outside and realize that there is still a foot of snow on the ground. It will likely be May or June before I get a chance to see if that new driver will add 15 yards and fix my slice.

This year, the entire state got a new driver for Christmas. It’s a Scott Frost model, brought here to correct the monster slice that is Nebraska football. Pandemonium erupted as soon as the news leaked on December 2, in the midst of the Frost-led UCF overtime victory in the AAC Championship. Even after new Athletic Director Bill Moos released a statement confirming the hire, I wasn’t fully convinced.  It was an anxiety filled two days between the announcement and the press conference. Relief set in as soon as Frost appeared at his introductory press conference, then disappointment in the realization that football was nine months away.

So how did we bide our time? Some guy in a cowboy hat sang a stupid “Frosty the Snowman” parody that somehow went viral. Others made T-shirts with cheesy puns such as “Frost Warning.” Similar puns were turned into thousands of memes involving Frost, Tom Osborne and “Brace yourself . . . Frost is coming!” Good Lord it was awful.

There was some relief when UCF faced Auburn in the Peach Bowl. We got a preview of our coach in action. There was a smattering of red in the stadium, representing bored Husker fans that didn’t have a bowl of their own to attend. UCF fans weren’t real pleased. I don’t blame them. We were like the overzealous new step-dad crashing the kid’s birthday party.

I attended a watch party and pretended Nebraska was wearing some weird alternate gold and black uniform. Actually, that would have been somewhat appropriate. The Huskers have worn throwbacks in recent years. In 2009 they commemorated the 300th straight sellout with uniforms commemorating 1962, the year the streak began. In 2012 Adidas created superhero costumes with ‘N’s on the chest, a loose interpretation of uniforms from the “Bugeater” days. Just last year, the team paid tribute to the 1997 national championship team (of which Frost was the quarterback) by taking the stripes off of their pants and adding faux mesh to their jersey numbers.

In the early years of Nebraska “foot ball,” the team went through a slew of nicknames. Nothing was really official. They answered to whatever the newspaper reporter christened them.  In 1900, Lincoln Star sportswriter Cy Sherman borrowed the Cornhusker label from Iowa and began applying it to Nebraska. Prior to that, Nebraska went by the Antelopes, Rattlesnake Boys, Tree Planters, Red Stockings, Bugeaters and . . . Old Gold Knights. Yes, for Nebraska’s first two seasons, they were the Old Gold Knights. Coincidentally, UCF is the Golden Knights. And just like Frost’s UCF team, the Old Gold Knights were undefeated in 1890 . . . 2-0.

Before the Big Red, Nebraska was Old Gold. Judging by a black and white team photo with no hint of metallic shimmer, I’m guessing the wool uniforms were more yellow or cream than gold. Each player also sported a “UN” on his chest, which appears to be applied with paint. The color of that paint, Nebraska’s accent color, is hard to determine. It doesn’t appear to be black and the “Red Stockings” moniker implies the letters matched the hosiery. Over time, the gold and red color scheme morphed into scarlet and cream. That’s my theory anyway.

Nebraska fans will finally get to test their new driver on Saturday. Granted, it’s a trip to the driving range, rather than a full round, but this time of year we’ll take what we can get. The excitement over Frost’s return is palpable. About 90,000 people will attend a glorified practice known as “The Spring Game.” It will be televised nationally and all of the local press has covered spring practice heavily for the past month. It is all a far cry from 1890 when the Old Gold Knights’ first game against the Omaha YMCA was just a footnote in the Omaha Bee.

At least there is some record of the Old Gold Knights. Unfortunately there are few visuals. In an attempt to create one, I did my best to remain true to the era. In searching for inspiration, I came across a knight bust in a St. Agnes Academy yearbook from the 1950s. I liked its simplicity. I did gaudy it up a little with the leafing attempting to play off of the medieval name. Granted, this logo wouldn’t look great on the side of a football helmet, but the Old God Knights didn’t have helmets.

Saturday, as chants of “Go Big Red” fill Memorial Stadium (weather permitting) be sure to remember the OGs . . . Old Gold that is.