LINCOLN — A crowded sideline Saturday included a coach who is used to being near a different sort of bench.
Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey was standing around about 30 minutes before kickoff, taking in the entire atmosphere of Memorial Stadium.
Brey's son, Kyle, is an offensive graduate assistant for NU. The Irish coach said it was the first time he had ever been in the state.
“I just came off the recruiting trail and had to check this out,” he said.
His first impressions?
Brey had gotten the message from Kyle about Saturday's blackout. He said he snagged an Adidas polo — the company makes his team's uniforms, too — and said he had only one real choice.
“My only other one was blue,” Brey said. “And I couldn't wear that today.”
Brey said he had seen the fresh digs of Nebraska basketball (the newly opened Pinnacle Bank Arena in downtown Lincoln) on his way to Saturday's game.
He was planning to check out the Huskers' new practice facility as well, jokingly saying he was going to “spy and get some ideas” for a future facility for the Irish.
As for the state of Husker hoops, Brey said there are whispers in basketball circles about something building in Lincoln. While Brey said he doesn't know NU coach Tim Miles personally, he is familiar with new Husker assistant Kenya Hunter from his days with Georgetown.
“I do think in the college basketball world there is a little buzz about Nebraska basketball,” he said. “It's kind of the perfect storm right now for Nebraska hoops.”
Brey also had some praise for a Creighton team that joined seven of Notre Dame's ex-league mates in the new Big East.
He said that teams taking a trip to Omaha lightly will be in for a rude awakening.
“That's a tough place to play,” Brey said. “I don't know how many teams are going to get out of there with a win.”
Wearing black catches on with some fans
It wasn't quite the Black Hole in Oakland — but Memorial Stadium on Saturday probably was closer than it's ever been.
Nebraska fans — some guessed about half of them in attendance — showed up in black to match the special uniforms the Huskers wore against UCLA.
The NU student section was almost entirely decked out in black.
As for the uniforms, Nebraska wore their classic white pants, a dark top and a white helmet with a red “N” on the side.
But the Adidas alternate uniforms had a much more modern feel. The tops were black with white, more futuristic-looking numbers and names in red.
The helmet and pants each featured a black stripe instead of the traditional red.
Short list of recruits takes in UCLA game
For the biggest home game of the season, Nebraska's list of official visitors was light.
The early kickoff played a large part in that as only four prospects took officials on Saturday. And two of those were in-state prospects already committed to the Huskers.
Lincoln Southeast's Luke Gifford and DJ Foster were joined by Brandon Powell, a running back from Florida, and defensive end Ricky Walker of Hampton, Va.
Gifford and Foster led the Knights to a win Thursday night over Millard South. On Saturday, they were doing their part to help boost the 2014 Nebraska recruiting class.
Foster was close by Powell during much of the pregame festivities. Powell, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound back, is a Miami commit. He looked to be enjoying himself, especially during the Tunnel Walk entrance. Both Powell and Walker pulled out cellphones to record the happenings.
Walker, a 6-foot-2, 275-pound lineman, was making his first official visit of the year. He has offers from the likes of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Penn State, South Carolina and Michigan State.
Husker transfer draws crowd of old buddies
Players and coaches don't make special trips to the fan areas during pregame warm-ups for just anyone.
On Saturday, a handful of them did just that for one of their own.
Former Husker Brion Carnes, who transferred to Northern Iowa in May, was in attendance Saturday, cheering on NU.
Carnes got the attention of defensive backs coach Terry Joseph before the team came onto the field. The two shared a couple of words.
Just before the teams started warming up, receiver Jamal Turner came sprinting over for a hug.
Carnes, a junior out of Florida, has played in both of the Panthers' games already, including a season-opening win at Iowa State.