On Sunday, following a program-record tenth consecutive loss, Nebraska fans were left with nothing but their 1990s-era Sears National Championship trophies.
By Monday night, they didn't even have that.
Federal marshalls forcibly seized Nebraska's three Sears National Championship trophies Monday, after a federal bankruptcy court ordered the repossession of all Sears assets in conjunction with the legendary retailer's bankruptcy filing. "Turns out that the crystal footballs are three of the most valuable assets available in the Sears bankruptcy," said a bankruptcy expert who spoke on condition of anonymity. The trophies will be put up for auction, with proceeds paid to Sears creditors.
The iconic trophies — which the once-vaunted Cornhuskers won while flouting minimum academic standards, complaints from local residents, and the Nebraska Criminal Code in the mid-1990s — were the last thing mentioned in literally every argument about Nebraska football in the last 20 years. They have become so integral to the regular Nebraskan's way of life that the program's fans fired both the former head coach and athletic director, just to throw $35 million at a coach who can't beat Northwestern or Troy but was in the general proximity of the trophies during his early 20s.
Needless to say, Nebraska was not going to let federal agents take their beloved trophies without a fight. Upon hearing of the court's action, head coach Scott Frost and defensive coordinator Erik Chinander deployed the entire Blackshirts defense to stop the marshals from seizing the crystal footballs.
Unfortunately for Nebraska, one marshal ran to the right, prompting all eleven defenders to follow him. While the entire defense was doing that arm-crossing throw-the-bones thing in celebration of catching the decoy marshal, the ten other agents took the trophies without being touched.
When asked by reporters how his players were so thoroughly and completely hoodwinked, Frost said, "Number One: I don't call the defense."
He added, "Number Two: I guess we'll file a claim."
Nebraska fans, known throughout metropolitan Lincoln for the program's uninterrupted streak of sellouts, have come out to protest the trophies' seizure and pool funds to buy them back. Unfortunately, Cornhusker fans have spent every spare dollar buying twelve season tickets apiece to keep that sellout streak alive, and Nebraska's 0-6 start has rendered those tickets worthless as collateral on a loan or bond. "Gotta support the team!" said one fan, before adding, "Can I borrow a fiver?"
Athletic director Bill Moos said the athletic department's hands are tied. "We spent our entire rainy day fund to schedule Bethune-Cookman for the bye week, just so our fans might actually see a win this season," he said.
Moos did have some good news, though. "I asked Jim Delany if the Big Ten could help," Moos said. "And I think the league is going to buy the trophies."
When reached for comment, Delany confirms the league is planning to pay top dollar for two of the trophies. "We'll send the 1994 trophy to Penn State and 1997 to Michigan," the Big Ten commissioner said. He added, "How's that for restoring the order?" before cackling like a movie villain, throwing a smoke bomb, and disappearing from the press conference.
Other potential bidders for the trophies include recent head coaches Mike Riley and Bo Pelini and former athletic director Shawn Eichorst, who plan to use money from their comically large buyouts to make a bid. Some, such as Mangino-era Kansas football, former Colorado coaches Bill McCartney and Rick Neuheisel, noted grudge-holder Jim Harbaugh, and the guy who was defending that receiver who kicked the ball to himself against Missouri, will likely bid out of spite.
Friendlier sources have been hard to come by. For instance, many former players declined to bid, having long since given what little money they had to Lawrence Phillips' commissary fund.
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz was asked if he would consider purchasing the trophies. The longtime Hawkeye, who has won his last three games against Nebraska by a combined 80 points, replied, "Why would I need the trophies when I already own the whole program?"
Concern spread across the state Monday night, as many searched for what to do next without the beloved trophies. Not only has the program lost three national titles, but it has lost the Freedom Trophy, the Heroes Trophy, and the $5 Bits of Broken Chair. All that remains are two titles from the Kennedy administration that were built in a high school shop class. One man was seen walking near Memorial Stadium, muttering, "We're just Minnesota... we're just Minnesota," repeatedly.
Eventually, officials asked Mr. Osborne to go home.