A two-way player for Nebraska in the late 1940s, Novak is Nebraska's only four-time all-conference selection on the gridiron, earning All-Big Six honors as a fullback/center in 1946 and 1947 before moving to center, where he was a two-time All-Big Seven honoree in 1948 and 1949. In addition, he also was a linebacker, who sparked fear into the hearts of opponents. In 1947, Novak's toughness earned him a spot on Notre Dame's all-opponent team, despite the fact the Huskers fell to the Fighting Irish, 31-0.
A half century after his final game at Nebraska, Novak's name is still prevalent in Husker record books, as he is tied for third on the school's all-time interception list with 11. His five interceptions during the 1948 season remains a school record for linebackers.
An Omaha South High School graduate, Novak earned All-America honors for Nebraska following the 1949 season and later played in the 1949 East-West Shrine Game in Palo Alto, Calif., and the 1950 College Football All-Star Game in Chicago.
Novak's No. 60 was retired following the 1949 season, and he was the first Husker to have his jersey retired. He now shares that distinction at Nebraska with College and Pro Football Hall of Famer Bob Brown, who had his No. 64 jersey number permanently retired in 2004.
Novak, who was inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 1972, also was a three-year baseball letterwinner under Coach Tony Sharpe, helping the Huskers win Big Seven titles in 1948 and 1950.
Each spring, Novak is honored with the presentation of the Tom Novak Award, an honor which "best exemplifies courage and determination despite all odds in the manner of Nebraska All-America center Tom Novak," presented annually at the Outland Trophy Award dinner.
Novak passed away on Nov. 1, 1998.