clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Review: More Than Winning - The Story of Tom Osborne

Eric Francis/Getty Images

University of Nebraska press re-released Tom Osborne's More Than Winning a year ago, with the hopes that the book would be taken up by a newer generation of Nebraska fans. The original was written just after the 1983 season. 1983 was a magical year, the year of the "Scoring Explosion" offense that featured the triplets of quarterback Turner Gill, running back and Heisman Winner Mike Rozier, and wide receiver Irving Fryar. It was the season in which Nebraska could have won a national title had Osborne elected to kick a PAT in the 1984 Orange Bowl, but instead went for the win and failed in the attempt, giving Miami a national title in a 31-30 Nebraska loss.

The introduction has been updated, with some notes from Osborne on how much collegiate athletics has changed in the years since the book's first release. One comment struck me as something that most people may not think true (keep in mind Osborne is talking about the early 80s).

"There is less cheating, yet we have certainly lose some of the pure amateurism that was so attractive at an earlier time."

With the constant coverage that college football gets these days, you'd swear there was more cheating than ever, but, hey, who you going to believe? Osborne, a coach and now athletic director, that's seen all those changes, or guys like me who are writing blogs?

The book begins with a short chapter reviewing the moments at the end of the 1984 Orange Bowl. If you witnessed it, you relive it again, but from Osborne's perspective. It then moves to February 13, 1984, the day that Osborne's father passed away from a heart attack. From there, we're taken back through Tom Osborne's life. He talks about his early sports experiences, dealing with his father being away while fighting in World War II, and dealing with his temper (what, you thought he didn't have one?).

There is, of course, plenty about Husker football. Osborne covers the quarterbacks, the linemen, and the two Heisman Trophy winners he was involved with - Mike Rozier and Johnny Rodgers. There is a lot of space dealing with the major issues facing college football at that time, segments which allow one to look back and realize how much more these same issues have become magnified now that college sports are covered year-round.

Husker fans will find his recount of Husker football interesting, but what I was taken by was how much we see of Tom Osborne, the human being. Osborne has become so much of a legend that it's easy to forget that at some point he might have been just like the right of us - struggling with trying to find his place in the world.

Who is the book for? It's for any Husker fan who wants to know more about what makes Tom Osborne tick (which might include Big 10 fans who want to know more about the history of Husker football). It's also for fans who may have been too young to experience the 1979-1983 period of Nebraska football as that is the main focus of the book. If those aren't enough, it's just flat-out interesting to look back and find out what college football was like during that time frame.

Profits from the sales of the book go towards the TeamMates Mentoring program.