Nebraska won't play spring game
LINCOLN, Neb. -- A band of strong thunderstorms brought a premature end to Nebraska's spring football season Saturday.
The annual Red-White Game was canceled, and coach Bo Pelini said the game will not be rescheduled.
Officials initially hoped to play the scrimmage Sunday, but Pelini said too many of his players had conflicts.
Records show Nebraska had played a spring game every year since 1950.
"It wasn't a decision that we made lightly," athletic director Tom Osborne said. "If you have someone get hurt badly or hit by lightning, then you probably saved yourself a lot of grief and personal injury and all those kinds of things. We made the best decision we could based on the information we had."
Fans' $10 tickets are not refundable but can be redeemed for free general admission to any remaining regular-season home baseball or softball game. Osborne said the athletic department stood to lose an estimated $400,000 in revenue from not being able to sell concessions and other merchandise.
A storm with heavy rain, hail and sharp lightning began moving through the area about 90 minutes before the scheduled kickoff. Fans hoping to wait out the storm congregated in the Memorial Stadium concourses but were not allowed to enter the stands.
Officials decided to cancel rather than delay the scrimmage because of the threat of more strong storms and possible tornados later in the afternoon, about the time fans would have been heading home.
"The right decision was made," Pelini said. "You have to look at the safety of everyone involved."
Pelini said he asked the players in the locker room if they would have a problem rescheduling the game for Sunday. Many of them raised their hands, citing conflicts with their academic and personal schedules.
"In the end it's not going to work, as much as I think everyone would like that to happen," Pelini said. "Plus, we could be getting more of the same weather-wise tomorrow. We're just going to move on."
If Pelini wanted, he would have been allowed to hold a practice to replace the spring game. But the coach said the team would move on to the next phase of its offseason conditioning schedule.
"It's not going to make or break us one way or the other," Pelini said. "I don't want to disrupt everything we have scheduled and planned heading into the next phase of our offseason for one practice. And to be honest with you, you worry about the mindset of your players at that point: how much are you going to get out of them?"
Running back Rex Burkhead said he was disappointed there would be no spring game.
"It stinks we don't get to play," he said. "Thanks to all the fans for coming out anyway. Sorry to disappoint them."
Osborne, in an announcement on the video boards, encouraged fans to visit the concession stands on their way out of the stadium for free food.
"Hopefully a lot of them got at least $10 worth of food, maybe $20," Osborne said. "We tried to make it right."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press