Diary of a Husker is a diary kept by David Kolowski throughout the years 1998 - 2002 when he was a member of the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team. Kolowski started as a walk-on offensive lineman and then spent the majority of his five years on the scout team.
As Kolowski continues through years you’re treated to what it’s like being an unheralded offensive lineman on the Husker football team - a lot of work without much recognition.
Daily entries include everything from winter conditioning, weightlifting, how practices were conducted, to how Kolowski is feeling on a particular day. Kolowski recounts his high and low points, gives his insight as to why he keeps going even though there may be little payoff, and spends a fair amount of time relating stories about other players. At the end of each year, he reflects on the year and then summarizes where he is at that point in his life.
There are stories of hazing (you learn what about ‘paying rent’ means), drunkenness and fights at practice. Many entries include how much money he is given because he’s a non-scholarship player and all of the ‘stuff’ the athletic department gives out to Nebraska football players for merely being a member of the team.
Mixed with these entries are revelations about the Husker team throughout this period, including:
- Team members drinking Long Island Ice Teas and other alcoholic beverages after getting destroyed by Kansas State 49-13 in 2002.
- Annual parties at offensive line coach Milt Tenopir’s house at which much beer was consumed
- Observations, good and bad, about Frank Solich as a head coach and many of the other Husker coaches, including a joke about Dan Young’s senility
- Jobs he had that were arranged by the athletic department
- Problems caused when the nutrition staff left in 2002
Kolowski doesn’t pull any punches or worry about offending the people he’s talking about in the book. He has plenty of revealing items in the book about people who were on the team during his tenure.
In the last 15-20 pages of the book, the author does an excellent job of providing a summation of what he thinks happened to Nebraska’s failing football program. I’m not going to spoil the ending - if David Kolowski could stick it out five years being a Husker lineman without much recognition, you can do him the honor of buying his book and finding out for yourself.
The bad news is that the book is long
very long 491 pages. It is is a diary and as such, at times it’s tedious and repetitive. That it’s a diary makes the book unique because it is written in present tense, as Kolowski is going through his daily routine. Most books about sports are glamorized accounts of glory days- reflections of the past which ultimately become the ‘good old days’. Such is not the case here.
‘Diary of a Husker’ is a book that Husker fans should read because it does the following:
- It gives detailed insight a into a top Division IA football program on the decline and the work required to play at Division IA
- Kolowski does not make judgements about Frank Solich and the Husker program, but includes enough so that the reader can pass their own. Points are offered on both sides.
- There is so much in this book about the daily life of a Husker football player that if you really want to know what’s going on, buy the book and read it.
‘Diary of a Husker’ is must-read book for any Husker fan.
This is only the book review. We will be talking more about "Diary of a Husker" in upcoming articles.