In September of 2017, Hail Varsity explored some of the great what-if moments in Nebraska football history, including a famous head coach leaving for an infamous Big Eight rival. We’re back for more in the October 2022 issue, on its way to newsstands and mailboxes now. To preview the issue, here is this month’s letter from editor Mike Babcock. Make sure you don’t miss an issue by subscribing today.
Appropriately, perhaps, this is the 50th anniversary season of Johnny Rodgers winning the first of Nebraska’s three Heisman Trophies. Rodgers was a wingback, not a running back, like Mike Rozier, who won the second, or a quarterback, like Eric Crouch, who won the third.
A wingback was split out, a receiver who sometimes carried the ball. Plus, Rodgers was an exceptional punt and kickoff returner. All three aspects figured into his winning the Heisman—running away with it, really. He had 301 first-place votes and 1,310 points. The runner-up, Oklahoma running back Greg Pruitt, had 117 first-place votes and 966 points.
Nebraska middle guard Rich Glover was third, with 99 first-place votes and 652 points. Two Huskers in the top three. Glover took some first-place votes that might’ve gone to Rodgers.
“The Jet” was clearly the winner.
In any case, the “appropriate” reference was a result of Husker wide receiver Trey Palmer’s performance against Purdue, about which Brandon Vogel writes in HOT READS. Palmer has drawn attention to receiving in a program best-known for running backs and lines on offense, though lately the focus has been the quarterback and the burden placed on his shoulders.
In addition to the recap of Palmer’s performance, this issue includes photo spreads from the Huskers’ four games since Mickey Joseph became interim head coach following the dismissal of Scott Frost, as well as softball and volleyball—for which Jacob Padilla has a Notebook.
Brady Oltmans has a must-read feature on the Miramontez sisters, Sydney and Sinclaire, and their influence on women’s professional soccer, as well as a Q&A with cross country runner Alea Hardie.
The issue also includes what might be considered Part II of a feature first included in the September 2017 issue, “What If” certain things in Husker football history had turned out differently, such as Bob Devaney accepting a coaching offer from Miami in 1963 or Tom Osborne accepting one from Colorado in 1978, two of the seven theoretical subjects in that Part I.
Design Director Quentin Lueninghoener has again provided unique “What If” magazine covers, and one of the subjects is based on a critical catch Rodgers made in the Game of the Century. Jerry Tagge threw only 12 passes, completing six, including five to Rodgers.
Rodgers caught 57 passes for 956 yards and 11 touchdowns that season (including the Orange Bowl). In 1972, when he won the Heisman, he caught 58 passes for 1,013 yards and nine touchdowns. He was the first Husker with 1,000 receiving yards in a season, but official NCAA statistics didn’t yet include bowl games. So his official total was 942 yards.
Stanley Morgan Jr. is the only 1,000-yard receiver in Nebraska history, with 1,004 yards in 2018. Palmer had 781 yards with five games (if no bowl) remaining.
You can read about him and so much more.