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Hot Reads: A Team Full of Janos
Photo Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Hot Reads: A Team Full of Janos

August 01, 2017

If you were around for the 1990s, the name Brock Olivo might ring a bell. He’s the special teams coordinator for the Denver Broncos now, but you might remember him as the Missouri running back who scored twice against Nebraska in the Tigers’ near upset of the Huskers in 1997.

Olivo, a senior in ’97, rushed 11 times for 42 yards in that game and opened the scoring with a 1-yard touchdown run. He also had two catches for 45 yards, and scored in the second quarter on a 34-yard pass from Corby Jones to give Missouri a 24-17 lead at halftime. Of course you know how that game ended, which might have been particularly painful for Olivo.

He had played Nebraska three times prior to that game. He had at least 10 rushing attempts in each game, but never rushed for more than 37 yards as Missouri lost 42-7, 57-0 and 51-7 from 1994 to 1996. If Husker fans do remember Olivo as a player, it’s probably for that 1997 game.

And that probably sells him a little short. Nebraska may have pounded Missouri in three of Olivo’s four years, but he was the picture of reliability for the Tigers. According to his College Football Reference stats, he only missed two games over four years. A St. Louis native, Olivo was your classic in-state success story. He left Missouri as the all-time leader (since surpassed) in rushing yards and touchdowns. He won a since discontinued national special teams player of the year award in 1997 and he wasn’t a return man.

Olivo went undrafted but played four years for the Detroit Lions as a backup in the backfield and a special teams ace. Then things got a little unconventional. After he was done with the Lions, Olivo went to play football in Italy and ended up staying there and coaching a professional team as well as the Italian national team. In 2008, he ran for Congress in Missouri and lost. In 2011 he joined Joe Moglia’s band of coaches with atypical career arcs on the Omaha Nighthawks staff, then followed Moglia to Coastal Carolina, which eventually led Olivo back to the NFL, which eventually led him to Denver.

Why all the backstory on a former Missouri running back? Because it makes this make even more sense:

Of course Olivo loves former Nebraska fullback Andy Janovich. Unassuming in-state fan favorite in college? Check. Overlooked skills as a back? Check. Rarely misses a game? Check. Special teams savant? Check. Janovich could be Olivo’s son.

Instead, he’s just the special teams coach favorite player. I don’t know that for a fact, of course, but just let me transcribe what Olivo actually said about the former Husker yesterday:

“Jano. Love Jano. Love Jano. He’s . . . Jano, Jano to me . . . (sigh) . . . my . . . If we had (sigh) 22 Janos, we would be alright.”

That’s 20 total words, six of which were “Jano,” and even that doesn’t accurately describe just how head-over-heels Olivo is in that clip.

And it all makes sense. It makes particular sense to Nebraska fans and it makes a little more sense if you know Olivo’s story.

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