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Husker coach recalls another tragic event

He played one day after JFK assassination

SHARE Husker coach recalls another tragic event

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. 22, 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 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, called off its game at Purdue 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-five I-A games were postponed, and three were canceled. Games that won't be made up are Navy at Northwestern, Bowling Green at South Carolina, and Marshall at TCU.

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 Friday, there were still three Division I-AA games scheduled Saturday. New York City schools Columbia and Fordham canceled their scheduled game in the Bronx. Two other games were called off Friday — Clark Atlantic vs. Morris Brown, and Delaware State vs. North Carolina A&T.

The three remaining games were Morehead at Jacksonville, Wisconsin-Eau Claire at Valparaiso, and Southwest Missouri State at Southeast Missouri.

In the lone game Thursday night, Tennessee-Martin beat Kentucky Wesleyan 54-14.

Among the most prominent games postponed were three matchups in Florida: No. 13 Washington at No. 1 Miami, No. 8 Tennessee at No. 2 Florida and No. 10 Georgia Tech at No. 6 Florida State.

Saturday's schedule had featured 18 games involving 22 of the AP's Top 25 teams.

Just as the NFL was making its announcement Thursday morning, four games involving Top 25 teams were postponed — Utah State at No. 11 Fresno State, Bowling Green at No. 18 South Carolina, Montana State at No. 22 Oregon State and No. 25 Louisville at Illinois.

It was the first inkling that schools disagreed with earlier conference decisions to play. In addition to the NFL's decision, college player reaction and travel concerns played a role in the postponements.

"There was real anxiety as the week went on the part of our football team about traveling by air," Bowling Green athletic director Paul Krebs said.

Friday, Oregon State replaced the Montana State game by adding Division I-AA Northern Arizona to its schedule on Nov. 17. That leaves the Beavers with one weekend off before the Dec. 1 game against rival Oregon, instead of two.

In announcing the ACC's decision to call off its games, commissioner John Swofford said, "I'm sure everybody's preference would be for life to be normal and therefore play the games that were scheduled. But life isn't normal."