Bill Glassford led NU to its first Orange Bowl and second bowl appearance in 1954. He coached three All-Americans (Tom Novak, Bobby Reynolds, Jerry Minnick) in his seven years at Nebraska and added stability to a program that gone through six head coaches in a nine-year span before his hiring.
During his tenure, Nebraska played in the first night game in school history in 1951, and played in the first-ever televised broadcast of a college football game in 1953. He was inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
Glassford's first season at Nebraska in 1949 came on the heels of eight consecutive losing seasons by the Huskers under coaches Lawrence "Biff" Jones (1941), Glenn Presnell (1942), Adolph Lewandowski (1943-44), George "Potsy" Clark (1945, 1948) and Bernie Masterson (1946-47).
Glassford became Nebraska's sixth coach in nine seasons and provided immediate stability to the Huskers' program. He led NU to a 4-5 record in his first season that included a 3-3 Big Seven mark with wins over Kansas State, Iowa State and Colorado. The wins over the Cyclones and Buffaloes came in NU's final two games of the season and allowed the Huskers to build momentum heading into the 1950 campaign.
Nebraska posted a 6-2-1 record in 1950 and earned a No. 17 final national ranking from the Associated Press, the Huskers' first top-20 ranking since Jones coached NU to a final No. 7 ranking and and the school's first-ever bowl appearance with an 8-2 mark following the Rose Bowl.
Nebraska's only losses in 1950 came at Colorado in the third game of the season and at No. 1 Oklahoma in the season finale. NU opened the season with a tie to Indiana before reeling off wins at Minnesota, a home shutout of Penn State and four straight Big Seven wins over Kansas, Missouri, Kansas State and Iowa State.
After coaching Nebraska to its best finish in a decade in 1950, Glassford became the first coach since Jones to stay with the Huskers for three straight seasons in 1951. Unfortunately, NU struggled to a 2-8 mark on the field and a 2-4 Big Seven record. One of NU's two victories on the season came with a 1-0 win by forfeit over Kansas State on Oct. 6.
The 1951 team also claimed the distinction of playing the first night game in school history in a 19-7 loss at Miami in the season finale on Nov. 30.
Glassford's 1952 club bounced back with NU's second winning season in three years with a final 5-4-1 record that included a 3-2-1 Big Seven mark. Nebraska opened the season with a 4-0 record after a 27-14 win over Kansas State on Oct. 11, but suffered a 10-0 loss at No. 19 Penn State on Oct. 18. After tying Colorado in Boulder, the Huskers suffered a 10-6 loss to Missouri before notching a 14-13 win over No. 7 Kansas on Nov. 8. NU then suffered back-to-back losses to Minnesota and Oklahoma to close the season.
Glassford led the Huskers to another historic milestone in 1953, when Nebraska met Oregon in the season opener in the first televised broadcast of a college football game in history. Unfortunately, NU suffered a 20-12 loss to the Ducks to open a 3-6-1 campaign.
Nebraska bounced back in 1954 with its third winning season under Glassford, finishing the year with a 6-5 overall mark and a 4-2 record in the Big Seven. The Huskers finished as the Big Seven runner-up, but advanced to the Orange Bowl at the end of the year under the conference's no-repeat rule with the bowl.
Although NU's season ended with a 34-7 loss to No. 14 Duke in Miami, the Huskers had earned just their second bowl bid in school history and made their first-ever trip to the Orange Bowl.
Glassford's seventh and final season at Nebraska ended with a 5-5 record in 1955, but the Huskers were an impressive 5-1 in the Big Seven with their only loss coming in the regular-season finale to No. 1 Oklahoma.
A native of Lancaster, Ohio, Glassford played guard for three years for coach Dr. Jock Sutherland at Pittsburgh. Glassford lettered at Pittsburgh in 1934, 1935 and 1936 and earned All-America honors as a senior. He was the captain of the Panther team that defeated Washington 21-0 in the 1937 Rose Bowl.
Glassford earned his bachelor's degree in business administration from Pittsburgh in 1937 and started his coaching career at Manhattan College in New York later that year. He spent three years at Manhattan before moving on to Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh as the line coach under Dr. Edward Baker for two years. In 1942, Glassford was named the line coach at Yale.
He served in the Navy from 1943 to 1946, and coached the Miami Beach, Fla., Naval Air Station team during that time. He returned to Yale after his service in the Navy ended, but spent only a month at Yale before being named to his first head coaching job at New Hampshire in 1946.
Glassford led New Hampshire to Yankee Conference titles in 1946, 1947 and 1948. He led New Hampshire to an undefeated regular season in 1947, before his club lost to Toledo in the Glass Bowl.
James William Glassford was born March 8, 1914.
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