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Coach recalls playing after JFK death

SHARE Coach recalls playing after JFK death

Coach Frank Solich played fullback for Nebraska the day after President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.

On Saturday, four days after terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, his Cornhuskers — and every other major college team — won't be running onto the football field.

"I don't think it was necessarily easy for anybody to move forward with that," Solich said of Nebraska's game against Oklahoma the day after Kennedy was killed on Nov. 23, 1963.

"When you have things happen like happened recently to this country, or like Kennedy, there is concern, and there are different ways to possibly go on it. The decision was to go. We went forward, and I guess that's it."

Oklahoma-Nebraska was one of just a few games played that day. Most others were called off.

The fourth-ranked Huskers rescheduled Saturday's game against Rice for Sept. 20.

On Thursday, all 58 weekend games involving major college teams were postponed or canceled, along with NFL games and every other weekend sporting event.

All 11 Division I-A conferences, including the ACC, Big East, Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC, and most I-AA leagues called off their games. The Big Ten did not officially postpone games, but its 11 schools either suspended home games or had road games postponed for them.

On Thursday, the Big 12 and Southeastern conferences reversed field and postponed their games, just hours after the NFL called off its 15 games. The ACC, Big East and Pac-10 made the decision to postpone on Wednesday.

Karl Benson, commissioner of the Western Athletic Conference, said the NFL's decision weighed heavily with the colleges.

"It had a very significant impact," Benson said. "We haven't been able to the go five minutes without seeing or hearing reports from the World Trade Center. No one has ever had to face this crisis before, not the commissioner of the NFL, the PGA or myself. The longer you can wait to make a decision the better decision you can make."

The WAC, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, Sun Belt and Western Athletic were the other major conferences postponing games.

Notre Dame, an independent, and Purdue called off its game and rescheduled for Dec. 1.

SEC commissioner Roy Kramer said its league changed plans after the NFL made its call. But he added it's important to get back to a normal routine. "We can't allow these terrorists to totally stifle our way of life," he said.

Fifty-four I-A games were postponed, and four were canceled. Games that won't be made up are Navy at Northwestern, Bowling Green at South Carolina, Marshall at TCU and Appalachian State at Troy State.

Other teams will try to find a way to reschedule, hoping to find common open dates, add a game around the Thanksgiving weekend or play on Dec. 1, the final day of the regular season.

The SEC left open an option of moving its Dec. 1 league title game to Dec. 8 to give teams a chance to fit in postponed games.

As of early Friday, there were still six Division I-AA games scheduled Saturday. New York schools Columbia and Fordham planned to make a decision today on whether to play their scheduled game in the Bronx.