Does Tom Osborne really need an introduction to anyone in the sport of college football?
Well, yes, especially when he's going up against some of the greatest coaches in college football history for induction in an inaugural SB Nation Hall of Fame. Regardless of how Husker fans feel about the man, I still need to come up with a case - an argument on his behalf that proves he belongs amongst the greats.
So, here I go. If I miss anything, I'm sure you'll let me know.
Nebraska is credited with winning five national championships in 1970, 1971, 1994, 1995, and 1997. Tom Osborne had a hand in all of them. In 1970 and 1971, he was the offensive coordinator under head coach Bob Devaney (The Bobfather!). After Devaney's retirement, Osborne was named head coach.
In his 25 years of coaching, Osborne's teams never lost more than three games in a season and never won less than nine. His teams finished in the top 15 in 24 of those years, and in the 90s his Nebraska Cornhuskers reeled off the greatest record in a five-year span of any team in college football history (60-3).
His 1995 team is considered by many to be the best college football team in history. He finished with a 255-49-3 record, which at the time of his retirement was the highest winning percentage (83.6%) of any active Division IA coach.
Osborne's greatest moment as a coach may have come in a loss. In the 1984 Orange Bowl and #5 Miami leading with less than a minute left in the game 31-30, Osborne elected to go for two. An extra point and tie would have guaranteed him his first national title, yet he chose to go for the win.
Husker fans know the rest of the story. Turner Gill's pass to Jeff Smith is tipped away, giving Miami and Howard Schnellenberger the national title.
That moment defined Osborne's career. Some may think that it was defined by three national titles and a 60-3 record over his final five seasons, but I beg to differ. Had he gone for a tie, Osborne would have been labeled "gutless" and a "coward" by the world of sports and because of that I doubt that his amazing run in the 90s would have ever occurred. Great players don't want to play for gutless cowards, it's as simple as that.
Osborne won countless conference titles, a national coach of the year award in 1994, was given a coach of the decade award by ESPN, and won several Big Eight conference coach of the year awards. How many do you think he would have won had he settled for a tie?
To say that Osborne is a legend in Nebraska is an understatement. He has defined Nebraska football for four decades and continues to serve the state of Nebraska as an underpaid athletic director.
It would be a dadgummed shame were he not selected into the inaugural SB Nation Hall of Fame.