Lincoln, NE - As the Nebraska media was waiting for players and coaches to emerge from the locker room, something described as “very special” was going on behind closed doors.
After defeating Wisconsin 30-27, in one of the Huskers largest comebacks in school history, Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini presented Saturday night’s game ball to former legendary coach and retiring athletic director Tom Osborne.
“It was nice,” was all an emotional Osborne said after the game.
On Wednesday, after five years on the job, Osborne announced he would be stepping down as AD effective Jan. 1, 2013. A winner of three national championships during his coaching career, Osborne has given 35+ years of service to Nebraska in some capacity.
“It was fitting. He has meant so much for this state and school, “ said former Husker quarterback and current offensive GA Joe Ganz. “He was emotional. It means a lot to him – where this program is at and what he did to bring it back. You don’t want to have the ‘win one for The Gipper mentality,’ but we want to give him one more championship before he leaves.”
Osborne received a long-standing ovation by players when he received the ball and gave the players a post game speech.
“He thanked us and told us to keep working hard. He applauded us for our effort,” said senior Justin Jackson, who entered the program in Osborne’s first year as athletic director. “Coach Osborne is been a huge part of me coming here in the first place. I love him. He’s a great guy and done amazing things for this university.
“Today is something I will take with me the rest of my life and tell my kids – tell my grandkids.”
Nebraska assistant coach Ron Brown, who was on Osborne’s staffs for a decade from 1987 to 1997, was not part of the post-game moment, but felt the honor was more than appropriate.
“I wish I would have seen it. What a great man. The Lord used him to bring me here, so I’m very thankful of him,” said Brown. “To see him leave is sad, but I hope he counts these years as a blessing, where he can relax a little bit and enjoy his time with Nancy (Osborne’s wife).”
With a 1-0 start in Big Ten play and likely a ranking in the Top 20 next week, Nebraska sets their eyes on a Big Ten Championship – hoping to give the former coach one more milestone in his career.
“Coach Osborne has done so much for this university, this state, my family, for me it’s something special,” said senior tight end Ben Cotton, whose father Barney played for Osborne. “It brings tears to your eyes. But we want to give him one even more special down the road, which means we have to get back to work right now.”
Nebraska takes on Ohio State next week in Columbus, game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday.