Tom Osborne’s last official day as an employee of the University of Nebraska is Sunday, but his last day in the office was Thursday. To honor his career and mark his retirement, we’ll devote this edition of Three and Out entirely to Osborne.
1. In a day and age where people in all walks of life hop from job to job, Osborne’s retirement is another nail in the coffin for a bygone era. After spending three years in the NFL, Osborne spent every one of his professional years (outside of politics) at Nebraska. He joined the Huskers as an offensive assistant in 1964, was promoted to offensive coordinator in 1969, was named head coach in 1973 and remained at that post until 1997. After a six-year detour to the U.S. House of Representatives, Osborne returned to Lincoln as athletic director in 2007. It’s pretty safe to say we’ll never see someone do that again.
2. Speaking of things we’ll never happen again – take a look at Nebraska’s year-by-year results under Osborne. In 25 years as head coach, Osborne’s team never won less than nine games. They won 10 or more games 15 times. They won or shared 13 conference championships. They never finished lower than 17th in the Coaches’ Poll. Again, they never won less than nine games over 25 consecutive seasons. Despite that consistent success, Nebraska didn’t win a national championship until his 22nd season on the job. So what’s more unrealistic in today’s climate, a head coach never winning less than nine games for 25 straight seasons, or a major college program showing enough patience to wait until year 22 for a national championship?
3. Osborne was the head coach when Nebraska moved from the Big 8 to the Big 12, and shepherded the Huskers from the Big 12 to the Big Ten as Nebraska’s athletic director. If what Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin said about conference realignment is true, that every move is a “100 year decision”, Osborne’s fingerprints will cover 150 years of Nebraska athletics. On the Mount Rushmore of Nebraska athletics, sculptors just went ahead and carved Osborne’s face four different times.