The coronavirus pandemic has shut down sports for the foreseeable future.
There’s not much for a 40-year-old, self-described sports nerd to do. So what better way to spend some time than to watch the original “Star Wars” movies for the first time?
Where do you begin? Original trilogy, prequel or sequel trilogy? After doing some research and asking those that I would describe as “Star Wars” experts, it only seemed right to start in the order the movies were made. So I had a game plan: Binge watching “A New Hope,” “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi.”
This sports guy was immediately confused. Why were the Jawa’s taking R2-D2 and C-3PO away at the beginning of “A New Hope?”
Then it hit me. This “Star Wars” stuff isn’t so different from sports. Specifically Husker football.
In this galaxy far, far away Scott Frost... err... Luke Skywalker was the answer his program needed, the new hope to defeat the evil empire and return a proud program to prominence.
Skywalker was going to need some convincing to enter into this battle. He would also need some knowledge from a legendary figure to defeat the evil empire. His Tom Osborne was an old guy named Obi-Wan Kenobi. Osborne had assistance from Matt Davison — playing the role of Princess Leia — convincing Frost to help the Husker (Rebel) cause.
To accomplish his mission, Skywalker was going to need a star quarterback and Han Solo was just the guy. After arriving on campus and a strong start to his season, Solo wasn’t so convinced. He went into Skywalker’s office with the idea in mind that he didn’t like the direction of the mission.
The program was trending upward, and they had a star running back in R2-D2. He’s smart and has all of the tools to elude would-be tacklers. (Sadly, he suffered an injury late in what was to become a magical season.)
Before the season, the Millennium Falcon also got some much needed repairs. The minor updates to suites, some touch up paint, updated tunnel walk signage and lighting made the Falcon it as fast as ever.
A trip to the Death Star awaited. Luckily, Skywalker talked Solo into staying the course and completing the mission. With R2-D2 on the sideline, Skywalker and Solo needed to rely on other playmakers. They started with the pipeline: Chewbacca. With the game in the balance, Skywalker and Solo called the perfect play for a game-winning touchdown to beat the favored Buckeyes of Ohio State for the Big Ten crown. Or, you know, destroy the Death Star.
What was looming? Lots more. Think of the empire as longtime rival Oklahoma and the final battle as the National Championship game.
But there was plenty of time to get there.
With a little extra time, Obi-Wan Kenobi convinced Skywalker he would need some more mental training. He would need to go back to the person that trained Obi-Wan. He needed someone like the master of Husker football, Bob Devaney. He needed Yoda.
Solo needed a safe place to take the team, so he decided on a recruiting trip. He headed to Cloud City to convince Lando to join up.
Moments after Solo arrived, he found he wasn’t the only one trying to recruit Lando. The evil empire of college coaches were waiting in the driveway, too. After securing a commitment from Lando, everything changed when they entered the conference room to sign off on the deal. There sat this universe’s Barry Switzer: Darth Vader.
Skywalker was suddenly being asked to transfer. The empire wanted him on their team. First, Vader tried to get Solo, the star quarterback, out of the way. He called on Boba Fett (something like this story’s Dan McCartney) to freeze him and cart him off.
Skywalker needed Solo to win the championship game, so he traveled to a quirky town in the mountains to retrieve him. Skywalker encountered a guy kinda like Shawn Eichorst: Jabba the Hutt. Jabba caused massive damage to the program in the past. He changed the Rebels’ core thinking and way of life.
After saving Solo from Jabba and his cronies, Skywalker had a plan, starting with enlisting C-3P0. This Bob Diaco-like droid had a habit of constant babbling on subjects such as defensive emotions.
It was time for Skywalker and his pals to head for the Death Star. The championship game was to be played on the moon of Endor. When the team arrived, they were encountered by the evil empire. It was one of the greatest games of all time.
Part of the game plan was to use a large number of Husker/Ewok faithful to shut off the Emperor's shield. The game plan worked, and Lando was able to catch the game winning Hail Mary touchdown just as seconds ticked off the clock.
Hours later Skywalker, Solo and R2-D2 joined in the celebration at 72nd and Dodge Streets.