The Road to Omaha: Day 4
OMAHA, Neb. — It may seem odd to some, but my day started in Lincoln at the University of Nebraska. Hey when you’re this close to a Big Ten school, with as much tradition as the Cornhuskers have in college football, I figured it was the worth the 50 mile drive down I-80 West.
Come to find out, a ton of Ole Miss fans were staying in Lincoln. For those that may not know this, Omaha becomes a huge party town the two weeks the College World Series is going on. Hotel rooms are scarce, and very expensive for the ones that are still available in Omaha. Lincoln is a bit cheaper, if not a bunch cheaper, and there are more rooms, better choices, I’m told. The only thing that fans have to do is drive a little longer.
The facilities at Nebraska are amazing. Joining me on my venture was Brandon Speck from the Daily Journal. We both agreed that Memorial Stadium was as good as any SEC venue. The outside was as nice as Bryant Denny Stadium, or at least close.
The seating capacity is now up to 91,000 I’m told. Of course Nebraska has had over 330 straight sellouts dating back to the 1962 season. So there was a need to enhance and enlarge.
Nebraska’s indoor facility looked great, and the tour underneath the stadium, by the massive weight room, was impressive.
The coolest part was the Heisman Trophy video presentation. All of the trophies come at you from behind the wall. Amazing.
OK, so Ole MIss fans may not want to hear all this about Nebraska, but I’m bringing everyone back to this point. Nebraska fans, people from Omaha, are Ole Miss baseball fans. There are a ton of fans out here from other schools, other places, and SEC teams, and underdog teams, are always favorites.
One of those fans is Kelli Anne Francis, a native of Omaha, but someone who loves the LSU Tigers, and the Cornhuskers. Decked out in purple and gold Sunday, Francis was very aware of coach Mike Bianco and his ties to the Tigers. She also loved her some Will Allen, the Rebels’ starter behind the plate.
Francis was very aware that Bianco caught Ben McDonald, who follows the super fan on Twitter. Bianco’s head coach at LSU, Skip Bertman, was someone she spent time with during one of her trips to Alex Box Stadium.
“I learned to love LSU because their fans are so great. There were so many that came when their team was there and even when their team wasn’t there. So back in the Rosenblatt days, when you had Dingerville and the RVs and all those people, you would walk by and they would say ‘Hey, you need some boudain, you need some shrimp? you need some Redfish?'” Francis said. “You know how it is down there. People in the South know how to tailgate. It’s weird, people don’t know where Omaha is but you go down there (to Baton Rouge), they just want to touch you when you tell them where you’re from. You take it for granted that the College World Series is here, that it just happens here. But in baseball communities, Omaha is the mecca.”
So back to Ole Miss, Francis was getting ready to cheer the Rebels on tonight in TD Ameritrade Park.
“Will Allen, I’ve seen all the guys, and I keep up with him. I’m an SEC fan and I think it’s going to be an SEC finals. Of course I’m not going for Texas. Every Nebraska fan hates Texas,” Francis said. “I think everybody is rooting for Ole Miss. Plus, they have that fun Hotty Toddy chant. I looked it because I didn’t know. I’m like Flim Flam, Bim Bam, Will Allen is my man.”
And with that, we will end this edition. Check back after the game for a full recap, with quotes, as well as videos.