No balloon tradition at Memorial Stadium in 2022

Nebraska Athletic Director Trev Alberts announced on his monthly Huskers Radio Network appearance that there will be no balloon tradition in Memorial Stadium during the fall of 2022.

With the increasing difficulty of getting helium, the university administration asked the athletic department to save the helium they do get for the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC).

Alberts said the university has had many conversations about the environmental impact of the balloon tradition as well.

He said the athletic department and the department of marketing and fan experience are working to keep the tradition alive in a new way.

“We’re going to work with Brandon Meier and our marketing department to try to come up with something whether its digitally or something to designate and keep it alive,” Alberts said. “We’re working really hard for something for the future.”

In other news, Alberts said he doesn’t see the Big Ten eliminating divisions this upcoming football season. In light of the PAC-12 scraping their divisions, many conferences are considering doing the same.

The athletic director said many of the other Big Ten ADs he’s talked to are in favor of scrapping divisions and allowing the two best teams to play for the conference championship.

Alberts said leagues like the Big Ten are in the middle of media rights negotiations that will impact divisions and the number of conference games. He said the negotiations also impact what future schedules look like.

Recently, the NCAA eliminated the 25 scholarship players per class for football. Now, teams will only have to operate under the 85 scholarship players on the roster rule.

Alberts said he was neither ‘here nor there” on the matter but said it makes sense to him in the transfer portal era college football has entered.

Speaking of the transfer portal, Nebraska football has picked up three defensive linemen transfers which Alberts said he and the coaching staff are pleased with the young men they’ve added.

“Now the challenge is when you have so many different players from all over trying to bring them together, meld together a team and culture because that’s still very important,” he said. “You can have great talent but you’ve got to find a way to take that talent and put it within a system, learn the system and create some unity amongst that locker room. I know our coaches are excited about getting the opportunity to do that.”

The biggest, most recent news for Husker athletics is the softball team winning the Big Ten Championship.

“They just reminded me of a team that losing was not an option to them,” Alberts said. “In really critical moments when they really needed a win, they were able to get it done. Really proud of them and I think (Rhonda Reville) has a really strong team coming back next year. They took a tremendous step forward with the softball program.”

Alberts said he’s never seen so many home runs in his life. Nebraska hit 76 home runs in the 2022 season which ended in the NCAA tournament regions.

While the softball team was soaring in Bowlin Stadium, the baseball team was struggling in the stadium next door.

In order to get to the Big Ten baseball tournament in Omaha, the Huskers need to defeat Michigan State on Saturday, which they did 10-9. They also needed Purdue to lose to Maryland to clinch the No. 8 seed.

Purdue and Maryland did not play on Saturday due to weather, sending Purdue to the Big Ten tournament.

While many fans were upset the teams didn’t play, Alberts said Dennis LeblancNebraska’s executive associate AD of academics, made a few phone calls and concluded the two schools “reasonably did what they could to get the game in.”

Alberts said head baseball coach Will Bolt said there was “nobody to blame but ourselves.”

“We had multiple opportunities this year to win a couple of games, to get ourselves into the tournament,” he said. “The real lesson here is to make sure in the future we don’t put ourselves in a position to have to hope that a game gets played where there is a chance and a threat of weather.”

Another issue that was addressed was the parking situation at the Bob Devaney Sports Center for Husker volleyball games.

Alberts said the long-term solution is a parking garage but those are “expensive” and “difficult”. He said there are some things to do to make parking easier in the short term.

“In the immediate term, I don’t think you’re going to see a drastic change in a positive perspective in the parking at volleyball,” Alberts said. “I don’t feel good about that, to be honest with you because that fan base has been as loyal as anybody.”

***Alberts said there is a football three-game package where a buyer could pick North Dakota or Georgia Southern in September, either Indiana or Illinois in October and choose from Minnesota or Wisconsin in November.

The package goes on sale on Wednesday, May 25.

***Alberts said there was a 92 percent renewal rate for football season tickets.

He thanked the fans for their dedication in light of recent years. He said they roughly have between 3,700 and 5,100 tickets to sell for a game depending on that game.

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