After Nebraska announced it would join the Big 10 following the 2010-11 school year, an Internet love-fest ensued between the Cornhuskers and partisans of almost every Big 10 program (see generally, here). It was the kind of spectacle that, were it to occur in public, would have caused those standing around, forced by proximity to observe, to yell "get a room!" at the participants.
That this would occur is not particularly surprising, because Nebraskans are, by and large, some of the nicer people you will run across. They will welcome you in, especially because you are a foreigner (i.e., non-Nebraskan), and, well, they just don't see a lot of non-Nebraskans around these parts. You're new. You're different. You're interesting. They want to talk to you and know your life story.
However, as a college football fan, the initial fascination will not last. You will soon learn certain things about them, so I have decided to issue the following PSA to all fans of Big 10 schools, in order that they have a full year to prepare for the onslaught that awaits them. Without further ado, here's a taste of what you can expect from the Big Red, Big 10ers.
They will travel well, and therefore they are better fans than you. I grew up in Nebraska, and like a lot of people from my generation, I left (.pdf). It's not that I'm not proud of my home state, but the flat-out fact of the matter is that there aren't a whole lot of jobs there and there isn't a whole lot to do there.
So, when you're from Nebraska, a weekend trip to somewhere like Columbia, Mo., or Austin, Texas, sounds like a pretty sweet gig. Columbia is larger than all but two towns in Nebraska, and it's warm in Austin when Nebraska has long since frozen over. There won't be a lot of warm-weather stops in the Big 10, but every town in the Big 12 qualifies as "not Nebraska," and is therefore an attractive trip destination for people from North Platte and Crawford. As such, especially in the first few years, Big 10 fans can expect an invasion of Husker fans wearing foam corn cobs on their heads and, quite possibly, oversized overalls.
A simple Google-image search for "Nebraska Notre Dame" pulls up the infamous red invasion of South Bend back in the early 2000s. Take a look at that image, Big 10 fans. You will see some version of it in your stadiums. Afterwards, you will be reminded that Nebraska fans travel better than your fans, and are therefore better fans.
They have won some national championships, and are therefore better fans than you. If you are a fan of Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Purdue, Northwestern, and probably Illinois (pre-Depression national titles probably don't count to Nebraska fans), don't bother starting an argument with your average Nebraska fan. It doesn't matter how badly your team just beat the Huskers, or how many years in a row they've beat them. Nebraska has won five national championships. Your argument is therefore invalid.
They sell a lot of tickets to their spring game, and are therefore better fans than you. Never mind the entirely valid argument that 80,000 people in that state don't have anything better to do on a fine spring Saturday than watch a glorified scrimmage wherein the number-one offense gouges the number-two defense. The fact that they show up shows that they care, not that they're bored.
They are incapable of keeping their expectations in check, even the rational and intelligent ones, and even when they try to do so. For evidence, see here.
Assumptions are perfectly valid on their part, but are hopeless aspirations on your part. Nebraska went 10-4 last year, with losses to Virginia Tech, Texas Tech, Iowa State and Texas. They lost the conference's best player in DL Ndamukong Suh, who was only picked second in the NFL Draft. Their quarterback was terrible last year and had shoulder surgery in the offseason. They didn't have any playmakers on offense last year and were, at best, stagnant. They lose their top three tacklers from last season in Suh, LB Phillip Dillard, and S Larry Asante. Yet, it is perfectly acceptable for them to assume they will fill those holes, no problem, and not only be as good as last year, but a national-title contender.
However, if your team faces such similar personnel losses, the only valid assumption on your part is that you are headed for the tank. Ask Missouri fans.
They are the greatest fans in college football. Just ask them. It's also engraved on their stadium. At every entrance. You know, just so they can be reminded of it a lot. And, so long as their boys (from California and Florida and Texas) beat your boys, they'll give your boys a round of applause as they leave hallowed Memorial Stadium. However, get a little uppity and beat them once or twice, and suddenly they won't like you and won't applaud your team for a game well played and will consider your fans the scum of the earth.
In other words, they're like every other fanbase. Only they think they're different. Have fun!