LINCOLN, Neb. - Former Nebraska legendary head football coach Tom Osborne will retire as the school’s athletic director on Jan. 1, 2013. The 75-year old Osborne will advise in the search for a new AD and is available to help with the transition process after the hire.
"At some point, whether you're able to function or not, the perception that you're getting old can get in the way," Osborne said. "I don't want to be one of those guys everybody is walking around wringing their hands about, what are they going to do with him. That happens sometimes."
Osborne was hired as athletic director in 2007, taking over a department that was in shambles with Nebraska football suffering their worse season since 1960. An interim-AD at the time, he fired head coach Bill Callahan and hired current head coach Bo Pelini to start the rebuilding process. The Huskers have won at least nine games four straight seasons since the move.
In addition to football, during Osborne five years the men’s basketball program saw major changes. Seven months ago, Osborne hired Colorado State head coach Tim Miles to take over a program who hasn’t been to a NCAA tournament since 1998. Miles has energized a fan base and put Nebraska in the national spotlight multiple times since the hire.
In October of last year, the University opened up an $18.7 million basketball practice facility – which also hosts women’s basketball and wrestling. The school and the City of Lincoln has also broke ground on a $180 million arena in downtown, which will be ready by the 2013-14 hoops season.
Osborne gave over 35+ years to Nebraska athletics
Osborne also made a high-profile hirer in baseball, when he convinced his former punter and Major League baseball all-star Darin Erstad to take over the baseball program in June of 2011. The Huskers finished 35-23 last season, with one of the youngest teams in the country.
“We worked hard on the culture and part of that has not just been internal. We've tried to make this a place where former players feel good about coming back,” said Osborne. “Whatever we've accomplished couldn't happen if we didn't have a united fan base. It would be hard to find one equal to our fans around the country. It enables a program in a state of 1.8 million to be competitive with programs in densely populated areas.”
Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman has already begun the search for Osborne’s successor, saying he’s interviewed multiple candidates already. A national search firm has been hired and a 12-15 member panel of former players, coaches, and donors will help advise Pearlman during the interview process. The university hopes to have a hire “relatively soon.”
“It’s been a privilege to work with Tom, “Perlman said. “The move into the Big Ten could not have happened without Tom’s support.
“The university and the state of Nebraska are in his debt for many contributions he has made to both over the course of his career.”
While his five years as Nebraska athletic director will be viewed as a major success, Osborne will always be known more for his coaching. During his 25 years as head coach at the University of Nebraska, the Huskers recorded at least nine wins every season and won three national championships. His .836 winning percentage ranks fifth all-time among Division I coaches.
Before taking the reins from Bob Devaney in 1973, Osborne was a Nebraska assistant from 1964 to 1972.
Osborne has never been one to relax at home. In 2000, two years after retiring from coaching, he served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and also made a gubernatorial bid in 2006.
“Nancy (Osborne’s wife) is more approving than disapproving. It leaves me with a great fear. She keeps reminding me the garage has not been cleaned in three years,” said a joking Osborne. “I can see a whole list of things popping up. All of you who are married understand.”
To watch parts of Tom Osborne's announcement presser: CLICK HERE