To "Respond to Randy" click on the above link and choose "Randy York's N-Sider" under "Area of Interest" on the new screen. Please include your name and hometown and share your thoughts on why you think Tom Osborne deserved the fans' choice as the "Greatest College Football Coach of All Time," and what you think about Coach Bo Pelini and his new staff returning the focus on NU's walk-on program. Your ideas may be published on "Randy York's N-Sider" page on Huskers.com. Please check back for updated comments.
College Football's Greatest Coach
The voting for ESPN’s "Greatest College Football Coach of All Time" ended Thursday.
The two finalists were legends – Paul "Bear" Bryant of Alabama and Nebraska’s Tom Osborne. Even though he trailed a week ago in a national showdown of brisk online voting, Nebraska’s interim athletic director rallied to rout the Bear, 52 percent to 37 percent. Eddie Robinson got 4 percent of the final vote, Joe Paterno 3 percent and Bobby Bowden, Woody Hayes, Barry Switzer and Knute Rockne 1 percent each.
Somehow, it seems fitting that Osborne won the worldwide vote, even though the two coaches finished 1-1 against each other. Osborne, after all, won the Bear Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award on Oct. 19 and will receive the honor at a special ceremony Jan. 17 in Houston.
Bryant, no doubt, would offer high praise for a coach who outfoxed the Bear.
Thirty years ago, Osborne’s Huskers beat Bryant’s Crimson Tide, 31-24, in a nationally-televised game in Lincoln. John Bishop, sports director for Lincoln’s KLIN, coordinated a three-hour special radio rebroadcast of that historic game on Thanksgiving. His interview with Osborne is certain to bring back some fond memories for many of you.
In 1978, the Bear’s eventual AP national championship team beat the Huskers, 20-3, in a season-opening, nationally-televised game in Birmingham.
For years, the victory in Lincoln was considered Osborne’s signature win because: 1) it came against the game’s biggest legend at the time; and 2) the underdog Huskers had been upset, 19-10, by Washington State a week earlier.
I’ll never forget going into Bama’s crowded locker room after that ’77 game. The Bear was as gracious in losing as he always had been in winning.
And his observations remain as valid today as they were 30 years ago.
The Bear did not hesitate to get to the point in what decided the ’77 game. Nebraska, he said, had more players . . . players who just kept coming after Bama play after play after play. "Isn’t there some sort of NCAA limit on the number of players?" he asked, adding that Nebraska had more energy, more stamina and more players than he had ever seen on one sideline.
He didn’t criticize what he considered to be Nebraska’s ultimate edge. He praised the advantage and in this particular game, he tried to do the best he could to neutralize that edge.
More than one Alabama beat writer questioned why Bryant played his second team so much on that humid, Sept. 3rd afternoon in Lincoln. "Because I was trying to win the game," the Bear said. "In fact, I wish I would have played our second team more than we did. That’s how Nebraska beat us. They kept bringing in fresh players and wore us down."
That quote is worth recycling because 30 years later, Nebraska is ready to return to its roots with a new coaching staff and a recommitment to its vaunted walk-on program.
We’re interested in why you think Coach Osborne deserved the ESPN honor over the Bear. We also want to know what you think about Bo Pelini and the new Husker coaching staff ramping up the walk-on program to give Nebraska the edge that worked so well for more than four decades.
One final thought. If there was such a thing as a tie-breaker on the Osborne vs. Bryant vote, T.O. has the edge. In Nebraska’s 38-6 Orange Bowl win over the Crimson Tide that clinched the Huskers’ 1971 national championship, the Bear was the head coach on one sideline . . . and Coach Osborne was the offensive coordinator on the other.
Makes you wonder if Tom knew then what he still believes now.
Voices from the Husker Nation
"I no longer live in Nebraska, and I now live in Alabama. Crazy as that may seem. I have heard all the stories about how great of a coach "Bear" was. I have also heard some not so good stories. Because I wasn't here in the time I can't make the call as to what is fiction and truth. I am a big fan of Tom Osborne and the Nebraska football program. In my opinion I think Tom is well deserving of the Title The Greatest Coach ever for many reasons: (1) He had the greatest winning percentage; (2) He was like a father on and off the field, taking kids in and helping them for any reason it may be; (3) I never saw Coach Osborne act unprofessional, always spoke with resepct to people; (4) He never made excuses for a win or a loss. I am happy to see him back with the school for as long as he chooses to stay. God Bless You Tom, not for being a great Coach, but for being a great man." - Sherry
"Tom Osborne deserved to win the vote as the Greatest Coach of All Time because of his understanding of football and how he handled young men during his years of coaching. He is also understanding of the Nebraska tradition and what it means to the state. He gives everyone the opportunity to excel no matter if he was a walk-on or scholarshi player. He is just a great person and leader." - Robert Feldman
"In my opinion, there was no other possible choice for Greatest College Coach of All Time. As a young father, I would have been delighted to hand over my sons for this man to teach. As it was, they were too small for football, but they learned anyway from watching Osborne on the sidelines - dignity - honor - decency - respect. In Nebraska, he said, "We don't throw away people." - Pete Woolworth