The University of Nebraska was once a college football power. Under Tom Osborne from 1973 to 1997, the Cornhuskers went an astounding 255 – 49–3, for a winning percentage of 0.836. Osborne subsequently became Nebraska’s longest-tenured coach, ending with the fourth-highest winning percentage in major college football history. Osborne never won fewer than nine games and secured 13 conference titles in his 25 seasons. And for those interested in ancient college football history, before Osborne, there was head coach Bob Devaney.
Bob Devaney lead Nebraska to a 101–20–2 record, with a 0.829 winning percentage from 1962 to 1972. Delaney brought about an immediate turnaround in the fortunes of Nebraska football. He led Nebraska to a 9–2 record in his first season, which was capped by the school’s first bowl win, against Miami in the 1962 Gotham Bowl. Wow. Talk about winners. Nebraska could surely use Osborne or Devaney right about now.
Now, the once mighty and proud Nebraska football program has fallen on hard times. Most recently, The Cornhuskers blew a ten point margin and fell to Northwestern, 34 -21, after having a 31-21 fourth quarter lead. A Northwestern field goal cut the lead to 31-24 with about two minutes left in the game. Northwestern would then get the ball back and marched 99 yards with zero time-outs for a game tying touchdown that sent it to overtime. Unbelievable. Just unbelievable, especially for a team that was 0 -5 and searching desperately for its first win.
In that oh so painful loss to Northwestern, Nebraska had the ball first in the extra period. The drive came to a fourth and one, and then a nightmare for Huskers fans. A botched snap and QB Martinez was forced to scramble; he launched one for the endzone and it was intercepted. Northwestern got the ball and got into position to allow kicker Drew Lauckenbaugh to make a 37 yard field goal to give Northwestern the stunning 34-31 win.
Last week, after Nebraska lost to Michigan, Head coach Scott Frost told his players in the locker room at Michigan Stadium that “things can’t get any worse”, and their 56-10 loss to No. 19 Michigan could serve as a “watershed moment” for the program in its first year with a new coaching staff. When they were 0 -5, the Nebraska coach believed that the Cornhuskers had reached the bottom.
But then the bottom fell out, and they lost this heartbreaker to Northwestern to fall fo 0 – 6 for the first time in school history. It’s the worst start EVER for this storied football program.
Incredible. Just incredible. So, are we to feel sorry and compassionate for the Cornhuskers? Some say yes, but most, I surmise, would say no. They had their heyday, and now the mantle for winning big in college football has moved on the Southeastern Conference. The SEC touts such powerhouse schools such as Alabama, LSU, Florida and Georgia, just to name a few. Ohio State and Michigan, two bragadocious, Big Ten schools, are still powers, so why not Nebraska? It’s a thousand things, none of which can be fixed in an instant.
So let’s encourage Nebraska. And let’s encourage all of our friends who are going through a tough time. Things will get better. Things HAVE to get better, right? They have to; they just have to. Becasue life is like sports and sports are like life. Trouble don’t last always.
And always remenber; “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”