Big 10 Countdown 40: Colorado Head Coach Tom Osborne?


It almost happened.

Despite a 55-15-2 record in his first six years as head coach, there was more than a little grumbling from a fan base that was impatient for another national title since it had already been a whopping seven years since the second of Devaney's back-to-back championships.

It was 1978 and the now 40-year-old Osborne was growing weary of fans unsatisfied with 9 win seasons and a support system for the program that he thought didn't match up to that of the Sooners. Then the Buffaloes came calling and a discreet visit to Boulder yielded a job offer and a potential change for the better.

The Colorado offer presented advantages for Osborne on several levels. The salary and term were reportedly a substantial increase on his Nebraska deal. The many scenic streams in and around Boulder were very enticing to Osborne the fisherman. And perhaps most importantly, football in Boulder was more low key and not nearly the religious movement that the game had become in Lincoln.

Osborne admitted that he came very close to taking the job.

In the end, the decision to stay hinged on several factors. As would become apparent in the ensuing years, Osborne was not a man who made decisions based on money. He also realized that if he did establish sustained success in Boulder, their fans expectations would rise accordingly and the pressure to win would quickly become similar to that in Lincoln. As for the fishing, he figured if it was that great, he'd probably do too much of it and his job performance would slip accordingly.

Probably the greatest reason though was that he couldn't picture himself being able to tell kids he recruited that he would be coaching against them. He had been at NU for 16 years and didn't feel he could turn his back on all the time and energy he had invested in Lincoln.

In my Big Ten Countdown 69 piece, I pointed out that there are seminal moments in dynasties that can make or break them. Sometimes, these moments are the ones that never happen,

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