Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Nebraska's Osborne Nears 200th Win

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Nebraska's Osborne Nears 200th Win

Article excerpt

ENTERING Thursday night's game against Oklahoma State, University of Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne is just one victory shy of joining Florida State's Bobby Bowden and Penn State's Joe Paterno as the only active major-college coaches with 200 wins. (The game is on a Thursday night to accommodate ESPN's national coverage.)

As good as Osborne's record is, there have been occasional rumblings about losses to arch-rival Oklahoma and in bowl games. His job, however, seems as secure as any in major-college football, possibly because of Osborne's personality as much as for his record.

He fits his surroundings well. He exudes old-fashioned Farm Belt ethics and speaks the language of the midlands, as well he should. He was once Nebraska's prep athlete of the year at Hastings High School, then won the equivalent collegiate honor as a star quarterback at Hastings College.

The mission statement he holds for the Cornhuskers reads: "Work hard, be thorough, be professional. Operate with integrity. Treat fellow players with dignity and respect. Promote pride and confidence in the team. Represent the school well." Nothing fancy here.

Osborne has credibility as a leader around the state. He has attempted to increase state penalties against those who distribute pornography to minors, for example. He expresses concern about the direction society is headed and the need to get back to "absolute" and "spiritual" values.

If Osborne sometimes sounds like a counselor, it's because he sees that function as increasingly important in his profession. "We probably spend nearly 50 percent of our time trying to deal with the `baggage' the players bring with them to our program," he said at a kickoff event earlier this year.

His long service - 32 years in coaching, all at Nebraska - has provided the program with stability and continuity. After a short career as a pro player (he roomed with presidential hopeful Jack Kemp), Osborne became a graduate assistant coach at Nebraska in 1962. …

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