Randy York’s N-sider
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Tom Osborne: That Was The Week That Was
The minute I looked at front page feature stories on Tom Osborne in both The Omaha World-Herald and The Lincoln Journal Star on Sunday, I thought of a satirical television comedy program that originated in the 1960s on the British Broadcasting Company and later became popular in the United States.
It was called That Was The Week That Was, and David Frost used those six words to sign off after every episode.
I’m relatively sure that Tom Osborne, with a bit of satire in mind himself, would like to tell everyone that the week that was will never be again, and no one is happier about that than he is.
The Week That Was
The Week That Was
I understand where Coach Osborne is coming from . . . I really do, and anyone who tried to keep up with him in his first week on the job would understand his position as well.
But after 255 wins, three national championships, six years in the U.S. House of Representatives and taking over an athletic department in one of the most crucial times in Nebraska history, stepping outside the limelight becomes a bit more difficult.
That’s why, over the last six days, among other important things, Osborne has accommodated a small army of local, state and regional media. He has done national interviews with the Jim Rome Show, ESPN College GameDay, ESPN Radio with Mike Tirico and Kirk Herbstreit and with Fox Sports Radio Nationwide.
Coach Osborne even squeezed in an interview with a USA Today writer on Saturday shortly before speaking at the Chancellor’s Pregame Tailgate Party at the Student Union Ballroom. On Sunday, another national publication informed us that a writer is en route to Lincoln and will be camped out here all week.
In other words, The Week That Was looks like Another Week That Will Be.
While Coach begins to rebuild the process that will produce the type of positive national attention Nebraska fans traditionally enjoy, let me make a few observations relevant to his first week on the job.
- Bill Callahan and his coaching staff are embracing their relationship with Osborne, who insists that “I’m here to serve you; you’re not here to serve me.”
- Nebraska’s football players are also enjoying their new relationship with the legendary coach. They’ve given him loud ovations both times he’s addressed the team. And Head Athletic Trainer Jerry Weber says they love having pictures of Nebraska’s All-American players hanging outside the locker room.
- Even though Coach was anointed a King at the recent Ak-Sar-Ben Coronation Ball in Omaha, he insists there are no magic wands for coaches or athletic directors. “I am not a genius, and I don’t have a crystal ball,” he says. “And I think most everyone knows that in athletics, there are no quick fixes.”
- Osborne will continue to talk about the only culture he knows – organizational loyalty, work ethic, unity and sacrifice. He believes intensity and chemistry grow out of those four qualities.
- Osborne is in the process of meeting individually with every men’s and women’s team in the athletic department and will speak to prospective recruits in all sports when they are on campus.
- Last Thursday afternoon, Osborne addressed Doc Sadler’s basketball team. Sitting at the training table for dinner that night, three of those players described Osborne’s speech as “life changing.” They said his insight also gave them a different focus on how to handle competitive demands.
- Jack Lemke, an NU sophomore middle distance runner who won three Nebraska Class A 800-meter titles at Omaha Benson and ran the second fastest 800-meter time in Nebraska prep history, must have heard the basketball players talking about Coach Osborne. A few minutes later, he asked: “When is Coach Osborne going to talk to the track team? Everyone who’s heard him this week said he makes the hair on your arm stand straight up. I grew up idolizing that man, and now he’s our athletic director. How cool is that?”
I understand why Coach Osborne wants to stay out of the limelight, so he can devote more time to inspiring our coaches and to helping the more than 500 Husker athletes he now leads and serves.
I also understand why so many fans are touched when they see or hear Coach Osborne. If you’ve had a personal experience with him, I’m interested in hearing about it. And even if you haven’t had a personal experience with Coach, I’m sure that something he has said, or done – or even stands for – means something personally to you.
Let us know what you think. We just might share it with others.
The Voices of Husker Nation
"Over my years as a devoted fan of Nebraska football, I wrote several letters of support to Coach Osborne. I particularly admired the fact that he maintained his same steadfast perspective whether times were tough or triumphant. Living in the Chicago area, I was excited when I heard that Tom would be at a book signing for “Faith in the Game,” which contained so many poignant personal revelations As the line moved forward, I heard Tom in his ever polite manner, as he welcomed each person and accommodated requests for special messages while signing their copies of the book. When it was my turn, he asked my name. When I told him, he remembered my letters of support and thanked me. I was stunned that with all of the people he met in his life, he remembered me. It is I who am thankful for his unselfish, humble service to the state and university he loves. I am ever proud of the academic and athletic accolades the program has received, so many of which are a direct result of Tom Osborne’s leadership. Welcome back Dr. Tom". - Rich MacMillan
"My acquaintance with Tom goes back to the '60's when I met him while jogging over the noon hour in mushroom gardens. I would have to say that Tom, in his own decent and honorable way, is the most competitive person that I have ever known." - Charlie Wright
"I have never met Tom Osborne but one thing stands out more than anything is his story about winning the national title in 1970 over LSU. He was an assistant with Bob Devaney and his recollection that it wasn't that big of a deal. I think this was a story told by Nancy Osborne when at the time, she was questioning him about why he wasn't more happy about winning. His response was "It's more about the journey than the destination." I think this story was described in his book "More Than Winning," but it made me realize that this man is much more than a football coach and his life and the way he leads it is a perfect example of why he should be in the position he is currently in. I was at the Orange Bowl in Miami with the Cornhusker Marching Band the night he decided to go for two points to win the national title instead of "back into it" against the Miami Hurricanes. I remember thinking, win or lose, Coach Osborne did a great job of keeping the Huskers in that game. That game plus the 1994 Orange Bowl against Florida State that we lost 18-16 on a missed field goal made me realize that win or lose, effort means just as much as the outcome. In my opinion, there was no other logical choice for the Athletic Director position. I am grateful to Coach Osborne for his efforts and wish him all the best in his new job." - Jay Haden, Lincoln
"My experience with Tom began 60 years ago when I played against him in a YMCA flag football game. I later played all the high school sports with him along with being the student body treasurer when he was student body president. He has always been a leader and an inspiration to follow. There is no one who can bring the Husker program to where it needs to be better than Tom." - Don Kleiber
"I think you may have heard of Tom Osborne. He coached a few years ago.He wrote a book entitled "More Than Winning." He lost many big games....for the championships in 1983, 1994, and I'm sure there were others People said he couldn't win the big one. In four years he won three national championships. He didn't talk smack. He let the players play and the scoreboard at the end of the game did the talking. People in Nebraska like to win, but striving for Excellence and demonstrating great Character and competing doing your very best on and off the field was what Tom coached and mentored throughout his life time. He became a congressman. He ran for Governor....and lost. With the same character and humility (a quiet man of faith) he moved on. He taught a few classes on leadership on campus at Nebraska, and when the state of Nebraska needed him he didn't say, 'This job is below me and someone else's responsibility,' he stepped up to the plate and said, 'My friends and neighbors need my help, and I won't let them down. I will do my very best to help as much as I can. Even though it is a big job, and I don't know how things will turn out. I will do my very best. It's More than Winning." - Chris Pestal, Wahoo
"I've never formally met Tom Osborne, but I have had many opportunities to hear him speak and have seen him out in public. His words are always inspirational, but for me, I have been most moved by his actions. I was in the Lincoln High School Media Center one day several years ago, when Tom Osborne entered with two Subway sandwich bags in his hands. He crossed the room to an empty conference room and waited. A few minutes later, a high school student came in and entered the room. I asked the Media Specialist if Tom was meeting with his TeamMate. She said, 'Yes, whenever he's in town, he meets with his mentee.' Tom was a Congressman at the time, but could find time in his busy schedule to meet with this young man. I decided right then and there that I would become a TeamMate Mentor and have cherished the relationship I have with my TeamMate ever since! Tom Osborne is a man that not only 'talks the talk' but 'walks the walk.' What an inspiration! Thank you Tom for being the man that you are and leading by example!" - Cynthia Wehland-Falk
"My experience with Coach Osborne goes back to 1994. In Grand Island ,every Fall, right before the first football game a coaches breakfast is held at Fonner Park where the local high school coaches, plus coaches from Hastings College, UNK and Nebraska are invited to talk about their teams. When I arrived at Fonner Park the line to get in already stretched outside the arena. It was a cold Fall morning, still dark outside, but everyone was excited because Coach Osborne was going to be the main speaker that morning. As I stood there visiting with friends I turned around and low and behold there stood Coach Osborne. Shortly. the organizers, who were in a panic came rushing out looking for the Coach. They asked him why he was standing in line, that as the main speaker he was at the head table. Coach Osborne's response was that he didn't think it was right to cut ahead of everyone in line when all these other folks got there ahead of him. The organizers said, 'But Coach, you are the main attraction here, you don't need to stand in line.' Coach Osborne said, 'Well, OK,' and then he apologized to everyone standing in line about going ahead of us. That made a big impression on me and showed me the true nature of THE GREATEST COACH OF ALL TIME." - Kim Marco