Glover's Priorities Kept Him Focused on Right Things
You don't win the 1972 Lombardi Award and the 1972 Outland Trophy in the same season without a strategic plan. Rich Glover, a native of Jersey City, N.J., did not go outside his boundaries to get what he needed. One of the finest defensive players in Nebraska and college football history, Glover depended on his mother's intuitive wisdom. She inspired his heart, motivated his mind, helped create his success and enabled him to overcome his fears.
Glover joins Husker legends who will be inducted into the 2017 Nebraska Athletics Hall of Fame class Friday evening in an outside ceremony near the Ed Weir Track and Field Stadium. “Football was fun and it wasn’t fun when I first went to Nebraska,” Glover told me earlier this week. “Coming from the East Coast and going to the Midwest was a bit of shock for me. I was a newcomer. I didn't know anyone but Monte Kiffin, the coach who recruited me, and Bob Devaney, the head coach I played for. I learned how to build that bond and form that trust with my teammates.
“You learn your way around,” Glover said. “For me, it was a great opportunity. As a senior in high school, I knew what I wanted and I told my mom and family my purpose and my reasons for moving to Nebraska – 1) get an education; 2) play football; and 3) become the best person I can become. I always remember the order of that, and I stuck with it. If you keep your eye on the prize, you never have to fight the challenge.
“You have to compete hard to play just like you have to compete to get an A in any class,” Glover said. “That’s why I enjoyed Nebraska. Everybody wanted to bring their best and work as hard as they could. I knew Coach Kiffin before I knew anyone else. When it got down to the nitty gritty, he was the one who told me why he was here and what I needed to do competitively. He also reminded me how important it was to stay out of trouble. He demanded that I work hard for my education and play hard to compete. I told him that I would come through because those were the same two rules I had at home.”
Meeting Devaney was an instant positive. “Coach Devaney was like a dad,” Glover said. “He encouraged and reminded me that every time we played a road game it was a business trip and the only thing we should focus on was winning the game. That is exactly what we did when I was there – played as hard as we could on the road, won the game, and then flew back to Lincoln to get ready for our next opponent. We were on a mission and nothing was going to stop where we were going.”
Who Can Forget Rich Glover’s Critical Role in 1970 and 1971 National Championship Seasons?
Back-to-back national championships in 1970 and 1971 elevated Nebraska into an ultra-higher category than the Huskers had ever been.
“Once you start playing for Coach Devaney, you understand why you’re here – to win,” Glover said. “Our biggest competition was the players we went against in practice. Everyone was trying to beat each other. Coaches are like your parents. They try to prepare you for everything, and I appreciated every bit of that.”
Before Glover left his home in New Jersey for a new experience in Middle America “my mom told me I better not get in trouble,” he recalled. “She made me promise to get an education and stay out of any kind of trouble and if I did, I’d be fine. They were all right – Coach Devaney, Coach Kiffin and my mom. That’s why playing at Nebraska was such an enjoyable experience.”
Glover not only embraced his new home; he used it to inspire others. “If I know a person and they know me, I let them know how simple life can be when you do the right things,” he said. “I remind them how hard you have to work to be successful. Never look for shortcuts because they don’t work. Find out what you want to be and what you want to do and then do it. Go with what you feel and what you believe. You need your family, your friends and your associates to buy in. Once you separate all that out, you’re never afraid to say yes or no.”
A 1995 inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame, Glover was a three-year Husker letterwinner, who earned consensus All-America honors in 1971 and 1972 and finished third in the ’72 Heisman Trophy voting. The 6-foot-1, 235-pound middle guard is one of only 10 players in college football history to win both the Lombardi and Outland Trophies, awards given to the top interior player and top lineman in the country, respectively, in the same season. After sweeping the awards in 1972, Glover’s No. 79 jersey was retired following that season.
Glover Says He's Humbled to Be Enshrined in the Nebraska Athletics Hall of Fame; Hard Work Paid Off
“I’m humbled to be enshrined in the Nebraska Athletics Hall of Fame,” Glover told me. “I’ve worked hard to get there, and it means a lot to be part of it. Hard work paid off. This is another great honor, one that I really appreciate.”
Glover’s wife Sonya will be in Lincoln for Friday evening’s enshrinement into the Hall of Fame.
“I still remember our fans, our students and our families,” Glover said. “We were all proud to play in the Big Eight Conference. Going from New Jersey to Nebraska and the middle of the United States was definitely different. I enjoyed the relationships I had while I was there. It was great experience from the beginning up to now.
“Lincoln is a great city for a university and an athletic program that is really going places,” Glover said. “The city just kept growing and growing and it was something we all strived for just to make it even more than it was. The University of Nebraska was going places, and it was just fun to play football, get an education and still have a good time while you worked hard to be the best. The memories you have are still there because you were part of all that growth. Nebraska is a great state, and we were proud to bring more attention to it.
“When you watched Nebraska on TV, it was so fun, you just pinch yourself and want to be part of it,” Glover said. “You knew you couldn’t mess up the opportunity if you didn’t take care of why you were there. You not only get an education. You get a chance to travel and to see places at the same time you’re competing. That was all part of being an athlete. You develop your work on and off the field. You win. You lose. You go to classes and you go to practice. It was all part of the learning process. That was why I came to Nebraska – to excel."
All of Bob Devaney’s Coaches Were Good; You Could Relate to Them and They Could Relate to You
“All of Bob Devaney’s coaches were good coaches. You could relate to them and they could relate to you,” Glover said. “That was the best thing about it. I still watch Nebraska on TV all the time. The Big Ten is a great conference. I grew up in the Big Eight before it became the Big 12 and now we’re in the Big Ten, which has it all at the highest level of everything. That’s part of progress and what Nebraska deserved because we still want to be the best.”
Glover continues to teach 10th-grade physical education at William L. Dickerson High School in Jersey City. He enjoys reaching out to young students, motivating them and watching them grow. “I preach how important it is to take care of your grades if you want to be successful,” he said. “I remind them how much they have to put into themselves to do what they really want to do. I know what it took at the University of Nebraska and I let them know how hard you have to work to make your dream come true.
“Coach Devaney preached about two things – mental toughness and physical toughness,” Glover said. “You have to have both to win. You have to play four quarters mentally and physically. You have to believe it to achieve it. Anytime someone comes into your house, you want to play as hard as you can. I still feel the vibes of Memorial Stadium, and I would love to see my alma mater upset Ohio State, one of the best teams in the country.”
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Editor's note: Bob Brown, a College Football Hall of Fame inductee who also has been enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is unable to attend this weekend’s ceremonies. Brown will show his appreciation via video from Oakland, Calif. Five of six inductees will visit Lincoln this weekend, including Scott Johnson Men’s Gymnastics (1980-83); Karen (Dahlgren) Schonewise, Volleyball (1983-86); Denise Day, Softball (1982-85), Outdoor Track and Field (1985); Rich Glover, Football (1970-72); and Dave Hoppen, Men’s Basketball (1983-86).
Voices from Husker Nation
"I had Rich Glover in class at UNL. He was always in class and he worked hard for his grade. I have always been proud of Rich as these years go on. He once told me what his high school coaches told the players to bring with them when they traveled to an away game on the school bus in New Jersey. 'Bring a garbage can lid to hold up to the windows when rocks were being thrown.' Rich Glover has always been my favorite Husker! He is a great man!" Kirk Nielsen, UNL Class of 1973, Overland Park, Kansas