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Osborne talks athletic improvements, state of college football at Touchdown Club

By David Harten

This article was published September 9, 2013 at 1:03 p.m.


Former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne signed autographs for fans at the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Monday afternoon.

Osborne speaks to LRTD Club

Former Nebraska coach and athletic director Tom Osborne spoke to a crowd of about 300 people at the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Monday afternoon. Among the topics, Osborne spoke about the possibility of players earning some of the revenue in college football, his 13-1-1 record against the SEC and recent rule changes. (By David Harten)
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Former University of Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne told the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Monday that while some might say college athletics have deteriorated over time, in some ways they "have never been better."

The 76-year-old Osborne was head coach at Nebraska for 25 years, winning three national championships in four years from 1994-97. The Hastings, Neb., native spent his entire coaching career with the Cornhuskers, starting as an offensive assistant in 1964, being named offensive coordinator in 1969 and taking over the program in 1973 on his way to 255 career wins.

Osborne entertained the crowd of about 300 with jokes and stories of his national title years with the Cornhuskers, particularly the 1997 Orange Bowl, joking about Peyton Manning and his own team that season.

The coaching great also shared his thoughts on collegiate athletics today, saying that while some "would have you think it's worse," in some ways, college sports have improved. For example, Osborne said, he was the only athletic academic counselor for the Cornhuskers while he was an assistant, something that isn't the case now, with entire staffs on hand to help players academically.

He also noted that today, academics are better policed and athletes have more options toward obtaining degrees.

Osborne added that strength and training in modern college athletics have much improved over his playing and coaching days.

He also talked ethics in the game, noting that the demise of the Southwest Conference was keyed by improper benefits given to players and that those situations have led to tougher sanctions against teams that cheat heavily.

"As far as ethics and honesty, [there have been] tremendous changes," Osborne said.

Later Osborne added that he doesn't believe players should be paid, due to the fact that workmen's compensation issues could arise, but he does believe a portion of the stadium attendance revenues should be included into a player's scholarship.

But, he said, while hundreds of millions of dollars are in play with college athletics, players still don't benefit. "The players are left behind so badly," Osborne said. "...The players are at best, no better off than they were in 1962."

In addition to the three national titles, Osborne won 13 conference titles in the Big 8 and Big 12, was named Big 8 Coach of the Year seven times and national coach of the year in 1994.

As a player, Osborne was a standout quarterback at Hastings High School and Hastings College before playing three years in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins as a wide receiver.

Read more about this story in tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.


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Jfish says... September 9, 2013 at 5:38 p.m.

What did he say about allowing Lawrence Phillips to play in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl after Phillips has physically assaulted his girlfriend?

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CIDHusker says... September 10, 2013 at 11:26 a.m.

Jfish I doubt he did. I suppose he talked about the thousands of young men he mentored, academically, emotionally and mentally to prepare them for life after football. He probably talked about the percentage of student athletes from Nebraska that recieve their college degrees. He may have mentioned all the inner-city kids he helped get into college academically and helped them get their heads on straight and get turned around. I doubt he talked about that one ANGRY kid that had issues even the Coach couldn't help. The guy that got kicked off of every pro-team he tried out for, and is sitting in prison somewhere in CA now.
If that still bothers you, we'll give back the three touchdowns Phillips scored in that game you seem to dwell on. So it's Nebraska 41 to Florida's 24 now. OOPS! Nebrsaka still won.
Jfish you're an idiot.

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LSS says... September 10, 2013 at 6:43 p.m.

Great man. Wish he would come back.

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RaylanGivens says... September 10, 2013 at 7:18 p.m.

Great reply Husker; I love Tom Osborne and I bet all of the Huskers wish he was back

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haj says... September 10, 2013 at 7:21 p.m.

As another point of interest, when T.O. Is in California, he visits Phillips in prison. I guess he never gives up on a person in need.

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elmo871e says... September 11, 2013 at 7:01 a.m.

Please....that old man is a total fraud. His teams in the 80's and early 90's basically single handedly ushered the steroid age in college football. His teams got paid, grades cheated on, worked bogus jobs, etc. I can still remember him denying it all when he knew all about it. They got caught, and the NCAA swept it under the rug.....Now Nebraska is an after though, playing in the Big 10. They are irrelevant now, and our current coach hung 70 on them.

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whackone says... September 11, 2013 at 7:44 a.m.

Elmo I would counter your thoughts by saying that the Huskers are much more relevant nationally at this point than your beloved Razorbacks.

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Jfish says... September 11, 2013 at 7:56 a.m.

Yeah Husker, that was mighty big of him, letting a criminal play, so he could get one more victory and the money that comes with it. The national media ripped him apart becasue it was obviously wrong. And, look at how much it helped Phillips. Does he go and visit the young lady that Phillips assaulted? Also, name calling on public boards will not get you anywhere.

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CIDHusker says... September 11, 2013 at 1:10 p.m.

And you're still an idiot Jfish.

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Jfish says... September 11, 2013 at 4:08 p.m.

Husker, if I am an idiot and that is the best response that you can come up with, then what does that make you? A homer that is willing to defend his alma mater at all costs. Hey but you got a win in the Fiesta Bowl, so I guess it was worth it to support a career criminal who has assaulted numerous women and is in jail for the next 26 years according to wiki. Osborne could have kept Phillips on the team without playing him, but he knew that he could not win without him. I love it when a guy like that gives a speech on ethics. Gather the kids around and see what the wise coach has to say next.

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