Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Funday: Big Shoes And Big Thanks

As we're fairly sure you heard earlier this week, Tom Osborne, the University of Nebraska's Athletic Director - and legendary former head football coach -  announced his official retirement date as January 1, 2013. Not unexpectedly, sports media writers and broadcasters from all over the country heaped praise on Dr. Osborne, most of it well deserved.

Many of those praising the College Football Hall of Fame coach and talented athletic director expressed sentiments we've also shared for years: That when AD Osborne chose to move on, the proverbial shoes in his position were going to be incredibly difficult to fill. That time has apparently come, though we hope not without one more set of thank yous, and one last story about the legacy of Tom Osborne at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Our entire staff has - collectively, as well as individually - had differing relationships with Mr. Osborne over the years. Paul has been drawing a prediction cartoon of the Husker football team since not too many years after Coach Osborne took the reins of the team. In fact, without Tom Osborne, it's doubtful that Husker fans would have shown the level of devotion that has warranted many, many years of Paul's HuskerNutz cartoons and books.

Our editor, Amy's family has also had multiple levels of business relationships with the Huskers over the years, thanks in part to Tom Osborne. Countless numbers of Nebraskans have been fed very well thanks to those relationships.

Our webmaster Shawn has had his own relationship with Mr. Osborne over the years, including his time as the Executive Producer of the Husker Sports Radio Network. Shawn has produced and worked with countless hours of Husker sports media programs, including more than a few with Coach Osborne himself.

It's with these relationships firmly in mind that we hope you understand what the real legacy of Tom Osborne is.

Tom Osborne has always been far more than someone just focused on college athletics. For all the years we've known him, Tom Osborne has been a teacher, someone concerned with teaching people to become better than they are. Even when he was in Congress, Rep. Osborne would surprise the occasional staffer by taking time to listen, and talk with them when most other Congresspersons would walk on by.

The most important legacy Tom Osborne will leave at the University of Nebraska is what he's done for - as sports media people often call it - "the academic side of the house." The move to the Big 10 was always less about the athletic money and opportunities for students, and more about the academic grants and educational opportunities in the Big 10, something Osborne knew when he made his decsion.

Having the most academic All Americans - college athletic superstars who also achieved top performance in the classroom - in college sports? That's Osborne's legacy too.

What has always kept Nebraska athletics a step above virtually every other college in the nation has been the understanding that's at the core of Dr. Tom Osborne - that the "student" part of "student athlete" is equal, and many times more important, than the "athlete" part of "student athlete".

We hope whoever tries to fill his shoes always keeps that idea in mind.

Thanks, Tom, for all you've done for Nebraska. Enjoy the fishing next spring. You've more than earned an extended vacation.

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