Nebraska AD confident in safety at Penn St. game
Nebraska AD Tom Osborne said he is confident in safety of Penn St. game
A Nebraska regent grew concerned of safety issues after Wednesday riots
Penn State police chief says extra precautions will be in place Saturday
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne feels certain his school's football traveling party and fans will be safe at Saturday's game at Penn State.
Still, he thinks folks might want to keep their red Cornhuskers gear at home, or at least wear a different colored coat over it.
"I just don't know if it's a good idea in this circumstance to stand out," Osborne said Thursday night.
Crowd control for Saturday's noon EST game became a concern for some after hundreds of students gathered on campus and in surrounding State College, Pa., following the firing of coach Joe Paterno on Wednesday night.
A Nebraska regent said earlier Thursday that he feared there would be hooliganism in Happy Valley by people upset about Penn State's handling of the child sex abuse scandal involving former assistant Jerry Sandusky.
Osborne said PSU officials assured him safeguards are in place for fans.
"I'm 99 percent sure this is going to be pretty much like a normal game and they're not going to be treated any different there than they would be anyplace else," he said. "That's just my instinct. I guess you can't promise. There's nothing sure."
Police in riot gear dispersed about 2,000 people who took to the streets after Paterno's firing Wednesday. Crowds toppled a television news van and kicked in its windows, and at least one photographer was pelted with a rock. Officers used pepper spray at times to control the crowd.
"Happy Valley is a pretty interesting place on a normal football Saturday," Nebraska regent Tim Clare said. "Given what's developed the last several days, particularly last night, we have a duty to ensure that our football student-athletes, staff, coaches and our fans are safe."
Penn State police chief Tyrone Parham wrote in an email to The Associated Press that his force is "taking extra precautions and has added additional resources for the game." He didn't elaborate.
Penn State interim coach Tom Bradley urged students to treat Nebraska fans respectfully.
"I think the message is clear: Let's show them what Penn State is really all about ... Let's show class; let's show dignity," Bradley said.
Bradley and Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said they weren't worried about the safety of their teams.
Neither is Pelini concerned about his team playing in an emotionally charged atmosphere.
"It's something we can't control," he said. "I don't care. Whatever it is, it is."
Osborne said no serious consideration was given to postponing or moving the game.
Nebraska season-ticket holder Jeff "Rocky" Sisel of Arlington, Va., who travels the country following the Huskers, said safety concerns won't stop him from attending the game.
He said he was at the Huskers' previous game at Penn State, a 40-7 loss in 2002, and he and other Nebraska fans were treated rudely. Sisel said Nittany Lions fans had a vendetta against the Huskers, who were voted national champion over unbeaten Penn State in 1994.
Sisel said he will go with four or five friends to Saturday's game. He's considered renting a car for the trip because he's worried his own vehicle will be targeted for vandalism.
"I wouldn't have thought about it otherwise, but I'm worried about the spirit and the feeling that these students are having," Sisel said. "Are they going to take it out on Nebraska people?
"I'm a little nervous, but I'm fine," he said. "I'm going to wear the Husker red proudly and hope for the best."
So will Jana Gross, a 1987 Nebraska graduate who lives in Baltimore. She said she and her husband have had their tickets for two months and are planning to go unless more unrest develops.
"I really think cooler heads will prevail," she said.
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