The Nebraska Athletic Department Friday night hosted the 1970 Husker team to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the school's first national championship.
Team members met the media at the Wick Alumni Center and then enjoyed a private dinner with staff members from that historic team. NU Athletic Director Tom Osborne and '70 Husker Co-Captains Jerry Murtaugh and Danny Schneiss addressed the group that included 55 players.
They included: John Adkins, Frosty Anderson, Jim Anderson, Mike Beran, Joe Blahak, Van Brownson, Randy Butts, Jim Carstens, Woody Cox, John Decker, Doug Dumler, Pat Fischer, Dave Goeller, Bob Grenfell, Gary Hollstein, Jeff Hughes, John Hyland, Guy Ingles, Larry Jacobson, Bill Janssen, Henry Jennings, Doug Johnson, Monte Johnson, Jeff Kinney, John Kinsel, Ken Kontos, Bill Kosch, Brent Longwell, Danny Malone, Dave Mason, Bob McFarland, Tom McGowan, Jim Miller, Pat Morell, Dave Morock, Murtaugh, Bob Newton, John O'Connell, Bob Pabis, Mike Peetz, Johnny Pitts, Tom Robison, Johnny Rodgers, Paul Rogers, Steve Runty, Dick Rupert, Bob Schmit, Schneiss, John Stinner, Jon Strong, Jerry Tagge, Dave Walline, Wally Winter, Bob Wolfe and Steve Yanda.
Staff members who attended included Boyd Epley (strength coach), John Melton (linebackers coach), Tom Osborne (offensive ends coach), Bill Shepard (groundskeeper) and George Sullivan (physio-therapist).
On Saturday, most of the '70 players will be at Husker Nation Pavilion from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. signing autographs. Fans will be limited to one autographed item per person. Free 1970 national championship posters will be provided for signing while supplies last.
The 1970 national championship team also will be honored at halftime of the Nebraska-Texas game.
Rodgers Says 2010 Huskers Remind Him of 1970 Team
Friday, Johnny Rodgers, a sophomore star on the 1970 team, told a group touring Nebraska's athletic facilities that this year's Husker team reminds him of the 1970 champions that started the season ranked ninth and managed to keep working its way up.
A lady in the tour group raised her fingers and then crossed them for luck, so Rodgers took her cue and crossed his fingers as well as his legs after making the statement.
"Bob Devaney had two 6-4 seasons in 1967 and '68 to put things back together and then had a 9-2 season in '69," Rodgers recalled. "He told us to dream about winning the national championship because we were capable. I think this (2010) Nebraska team has the same dreams we did, even though it's still fairly young."
Video highlights were played from the 1970 season at the recognition event, showing how Nebraska seized its greatest opportunity in school history with a 17-12 win over fifth-ranked LSU in the 1971 Orange Bowl. The only blemish on the Huskers' record that season was a 21-21 tie at Southern Cal.
By mid-October in '70, the unbeaten Huskers had climbed to fifth in the ratings. They advanced to third after beating Oklahoma 28-21 when Jim Anderson made his second interception in the end zone on the last play of the game. That positioned Nebraska to move to the top of the charts after three consecutive events on New Year's Day: 1) Notre Dame snapped Texas' 30-game winning streak in the Cotton Bowl, 24-11; 2) Stanford upset second-ranked Ohio State, 27-17, in the Rose Bowl; and 3) Nebraska rose to the challenge in turning back LSU.
Tagge's one-yard leap with 8:50 remaining is a play that came out of the time capsule for this weekend's special Red Out Around the World event and the 40th anniversary celebration of the Huskers' first national title.
Even if Nebraska's youngest fans hadn't seen that signature play, they will see it Saturday on NU's big screens when the '70 team is introduced before an NCAA record 308th consecutive sellout crowd.
Tagge shared that special season at the controls with Van Brownson, so he did not make all-conference as a junior in 1970. But his famous sneak is the play remembered most. "I bet I've signed thousands of photos of that one-yard run," he said. "That picture was everywhere, even on table mats whenever you walked into a pizza joint."
That play made Tagge a charter member in Husker folklore. Murtaugh, a linebacker, was an All-American that year. So was Bob Newton, an offensive tackle who made the trip from Palm Desert. Calif., for the reunion.