Tom Osborne is clearly a pretty smart guy. People — mostly football fans, media and coaches — call him a genius all the time. Point is, he’s earned the benefit of the doubt over the years when it comes to decision making.
His latest decision made some news on Thursday. In an interview with Steve Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star, Osborne revealed that he is giving up the skybox at Memorial Stadium that he has occupied since 2007.
And when you’re Tom Osborne, nothing goes unnoticed. As soon as the headline hit Twitter, you could almost hear the din rising from the Cornhusker State: What does it mean? Is it a sign the football program no longer has his support? Is he doing it — and talking to reporters about it — because he knows how it will be perceived in some circles and perception is reality (aka the Machiavellian explanation)?
Here is Osborne’s very Nebraskan explanation to the LJS:
“I’m not going to be there (in the skybox this season),” he said. “But they’ve told me if I had anybody I wanted to have sit there — former players, boosters, whatever — they’d try to do that. I just feel it’s important that the box be used for athletic department uses and not some old guy who used to coach but doesn’t anymore.
“It’s kind of a personal feeling. Even though I have tried to use it for university purposes on occasion, and it’s certainly been a nice thing for my family, I don’t think it should go on in perpetuity.”
So here’s the question: Do you take that at face value? Is this a thing or not a thing?
While few seem to dispute that Osborne’s principled and sagacious public persona is anything but his actual persona, there are some who know him well that will, in somewhat hushed tones, tell you just how shrewd he was as well. Heck, if you buy that, it’s probably what made him such a great play caller, knowing how all the pieces fit together, what this move would make that defense do and when to pull the pin so a hand grenade disguised as a farm-kid fullback from central Nebraska could explode a defense full of blue-chippers and race 40 or 50 yards untouched on a simple dive or trap.
If you want to believe that’s what is happening here, go ahead. You can’t rule it out completely, I guess.
Me? I’m just taking it at face value. I think he probably did feel a little guilt about a perpetual place (of honor, really) in the stadium he helped (continue to) fill for a quarter century.
Back to the Drawing Board
Nebraska seems to have a hit on its hands with the new alternate/throwback uniform released yesterday. Early results in our front-page poll are overwhelmingly positive and, while not quite as stark, they’ve been well received on Twitter, too, where only gifs are universally accepted and adored.
But you’re never totally out of the woods with a uniform unveiling until the godfather of uniform criticism, Paul Lukas of Uni-Watch.com and ESPN, offers his ruling.
And, while it seems as though he likes the mesh approach, he does note one mistake:
I like the idea behind the mesh pattern (it’s simple and clever, right?), but there’s a really basic, obvious element that they got wrong: the TV numbers. While it’s true that the ’97 Huskers used mesh fabric for the front and back of their jerseys, the shoulder yokes and sleeves were made from solid, non-mesh fabric. So it wouldn’t make sense for the throwbacks to have mesh-patterned TV numbers — but that’s what they have anyway . . .
Come on, man — how could you screw that up? Even weirder, one of the photos Adidas released yesterday shows three guys wearing jersey with no TV numbers, so who knows how this is going to play out. The only thing I’m sure of is that it shouldn’t be so hard to get this right.
I cannot tell you how mad I am that I missed that in my review.
The Grab Bag
- I should’ve linked this yesterday when I was making jokes about 2007 Nebraska being good, but here’s Jon Johnston’s review of that season.
- ESPN explores the famous sons in college football this year, but neglects to mention Nebraska fullback Ben Miles.
- Sam Khan Jr. on the evolution of the tight end position in college football.
- Strangely busy news day yesterday for July. ICYMI: What you need to know for fan day, the new NU football HOF inductees, the White Sox call up Aaron Bummer and a very fun video you simply must watch.
Today’s Song of Today
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.