In the Huddle: According to “Nebraska Football Coaching Records,” from 1942-1961 the record for Nebraska football teams was 68-120-4. Then, from 1962-2012, their record was 514-131-3.
Furthermore, during the 1942-1961era Nebraska football had seven head coaches, and none of them compiled a winning record. But from 1962-2012 Nebraska only had five head coaches, and all of them had winning records.
What inspired this transformation?
A Change in Tradition: In 1962, “History of Nebraska Football” says Nebraska hired Bob Devaney as their head coach. From his first day on the job, Devaney spewed contempt for the status-quo defeatist tradition that reigned throughout Cornhusker kingdom.
He exposed his assistant coaches to his contagious winning attitude; they bought it and injected the players with that winning virus. Then, like a stream that flows to a waterfall, Devaney’s winning philosophy cascaded over an entire state.
Coach Devaney’s first team went 9-2 and accepted an invitation to the Gotham Bowl, in New York City. In a hard-fought game, the underdog Cornhuskers defeated the Miami Hurricanes 36-34.
Thus, Devaney initiated the rudiments of tradition into Nebraska football. The team won games with a dominating offense coupled to a solid defense.
After 11 years Devaney retired from coaching, and became Nebraska’s athletic director. He left behind an impressive resume:
- · Devaney’s record was 101-20-2. His teams won outright or shared eight Big Eight championships, along with winning consecutive National Championships in 1970 and 1971.
- · He initiated Nebraska’s walk-on program.
When Tradition Became Long-Term History: Tom Osborne became head coach in 1973 and took the burgeoning traditions and made them stalwarts of Nebraska football. Over his 25 years as head coach, Osborne cultivated his own identity:
- · His record was 255-49-3, along National Championships in 1994, 1995, and 1997.
- · Osborne optimized Nebraska’s walk-on program and several became Academic All-Americans, while some earned All-Big Eight or All-American honors. A few became professional football players.
Tom Osborne resigned as Nebraska’s head football coach in 1997.
Even Tradition Can Hiccup: When Osborne retired Frank Solich became Nebraska’s head coach. He coached until 2003 and recorded a 58-19 record. Nevertheless, new Athletic Director Steve Pederson fired Solich because Pederson wanted to change Nebraska’s run oriented football to a pro-style passing offense.
He hired former Los Angeles Raider coach Bill Callahan.
Callahan coached from 2004-2007 garnering a record of 27-22. He destroyed parts of Nebraska’s tradition by eliminating the walk-on program, and, in trying to transform the offense, Nebraska suffered consecutive losing seasons for the first time in 45 years.
Pederson was fired in 2007 and Osborne came out of retirement to become Athletic Director. He fired Callahan and hired present Head Coach Bo Pelini.
Nebraska is Pelini’s first experience as a head coach and there are blips on his screen. However, he’s restored the walk-on program and is recruiting toughness back into Nebraska football.
Pelini’s record is 49-20 and his teams have won at least nine games each year. It appears we in Huskerland can relax; our football traditions are back in good hands. Thanks Bo.
NU Media Relations: Nebraska Football Coaching Records: www.huskers.com/
NU Media Relations: The History of Nebraska Football: www.huskers.com/