Hall-of-Famer Theiss Proud to Be Part of Husker Lore
By Randy York
A rare three-year starter on Nebraska’s 1980, ’81 and ’82 offensive line, Randy Theiss (pronounced TICE) was a first-team Academic All-American and a third-team All-American.
The 6-3, 255-pound tackle from Lindbergh High School in St. Louis helped the Huskers lead the nation in total offense (518.6 yards per game), rushing offense (394.3) and scoring (41.1 points per game) in 1982.
That’s the good news in the sharp mind of Theiss, who will be inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame on Friday night in NU’s West Memorial Stadium Club and then honored Saturday on Tom Osborne Field with fellow Husker Hall-of-Fame selections Chad Kelsey (1995-98), Donnie McGee (1968-70) and Zac Taylor (2005-06).
The rough and tough news for Theiss?
“I do wish my folks had lived long enough to see this because my years at NU were some of the most enjoyable years of their lives,” Theiss said. “They saw every single game I ever played in at NU, which was a huge commitment in time and traveling. The only football game I ever played in high school or college that they did not attend was the Japan Bowl my senior year.”
A managing director for institutional sales at Piper Jaffray in Charlotte, N.C., Theiss called the upcoming weekend a huge honor, especially when he thinks about playing with legendary teammates like Turner Gill, Mike Rozier, Dave Rimington and Dean Steinkuhler.
Theiss said Friday’s ceremony and Saturday’s honor on the field will be “very humbling and very flattering at the same time.”
“So much of my personality and fabric was shaped by being part of Nebraska’s program, and to be recognized in the Hall of Fame is just awesome,” Theiss said.
Four of Huskers’ Five 1982 Offensive Linemen Are Now in Nebraska Football Hall of Fame
Saturday’s festivities at Nebraska’s home game against Northern Illinois trigger an important thought. “As offensive linemen, we are taught to be part of the bigger picture and work as a unit,” he said. “I believe Nebraska’s program is unique in its promotion of and its appreciation for offensive line play. Four of the five of us who started on the offensive line my senior year are now in the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame. I doubt that’s the case at most schools.”
Scott Raridon, inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame last year, joins Rimington, Steinkuhler and Theiss in that elite group.
Winning two Big 8 titles were highlights of Theiss’ career. “We beat Oklahoma two times in a row at a time when there was a lot of pressure on the program and Coach Osborne to do so,” Theiss told me. “Those wins and titles meant so much at that time. I can still remember the feeling afterward. We truly felt like we were playing not only for the team and the staff, but for the entire state.”
There is, however, a difficult point in Theiss’s collegiate experience. “Getting beat (27-24) in the last seconds at Penn State because of some very questionable calls was tough,” Theiss said. “We felt, and I still do feel that we were the best team in the country in 1982 and were cheated out of a shot at the national championship.”
Huskers Finished the 1982 Football Season with a 21-20 Win over LSU in the Orange Bowl
Fortunately, Nebraska’s 1982 team did come back from its only loss of the season to win the rest of its games, including a 21-20 win over LSU in the Orange Bowl.
Theiss credits Nebraska’s culture for an “incredible” experience. “Of all the things that have made NU such a special program when I was there and since, I think Nebraska’s devotion to and pride in the team reflects the quality of individuals who were our coaches and on our staff,” he said. “We all felt a tremendous pride and a sincere sense of duty in representing the program and the entire state.”
Even though recent decades have not reached the same milestones, “Nebraska’s fan base has maintained its support, and the sellout streak is indicative of that,” Theiss said, remembering the staffs that included Clete Fischer, Mike Corrigan, John Melton, Milt Tenopir, Charlie McBride and others.
“Obviously, Coach Osborne was the key ingredient, and there was a tremendous sense of family and teamwork,” Theiss said. “I think the players from instate helped indoctrinate those of us from outstate into the culture. We definitely knew how important the program was to the state.”
Even though Nebraska did not win a national title when Theiss played, he believes strongly that the ’80-‘81-‘82 teams helped set the foundation for the Huskers’ three national titles in the 1990s.
“Hard work and preparation was our culture without a doubt,” he said. “Coach Osborne always emphasized being prepared mentally and physically and staying with the process. Success in the game, or anything else in life, depends not so much on your effort or emotion once the game begins, but on your preparation and the effort leading up to it. The work ethic and character traits that we developed served everyone who was part of it very well.”
St. Louis Native Praises Tre Bryant’s Decision to Become a Nebraska Cornhusker
Football is unique. Standing on Tom Osborne Field and being recognized Saturday “will be one of the most thrilling and humbling moments in my life,” Theiss said, adding that his wife, two brothers, in-laws, college friends, teammates and roommates will attend Friday night’s induction and Saturday’s game.
A St. Louis native, Theiss is enthused about Nebraska’s current recruiting priority in his home city and state. “Tre Bryant is going to be a great back,” Theiss said. “He’s indicative of the type of talent there is in St Louis and throughout the state of Missouri. There is a huge opportunity to make big inroads there, and I’m so glad that we are re-establishing that connection.”
Bryant currently ranks ninth nationally in rushing, and his success will reinforce Nebraska's commitment to recruit the state of Missouri, an important part of the Huskers' past, present and future.
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