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RE: Dave Rimington

Dear Trev,

With the start of the season a few weeks away, I know you’re a busy man. So, I’ll get right to the point:

It is time for Nebraska football to permanently retire the #50 that center Dave Rimington wore during his extraordinary Husker career.

Dave Rimington is one of the greatest student-athletes to ever play for Nebraska – regardless of sport. The namesake of the Rimington Award (given annually to the nation’s best center) deserves to have his number* permanently retired.

*To avoid confusion, allow me a quick aside about how Nebraska differentiates between “retired jerseys” and “retired numbers”:

A retired jersey is a huge honor. It is reserved for Huskers who have won national awards (such as the Heisman, Outland, Lombardi, Butkus, etc.) or have been elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. To date, 22 Huskers have had their jerseys retired – yourself included. These players have their names and numbers listed on the north stadium façade. These numbers are still in regular rotation among current Husker players.

A retired number is the highest honor given to a Nebraska football player. The number they wore is removed from circulation. Currently, Nebraska has three retired numbers:

  • Tom “Train Wreck” Novak’s #60. It was retired in 1949 immediately after Novak finished his career as the first – and still only – Husker to be named All-Conference four straight years. Nobody has worn #60** since.
  • Bob Brown’s #64. It was permanently retired in 2004. Kurt Mann was the last player to wear #64.
  • Johnny Rodgers’s #20. The Jet had his number retired after the 1972 season. Johnny allowed it to come out of retirement to be worn by his son Terry in 1986. It was briefly re-retired after Terry graduated, but came back into circulation in 1995 (Michael Booker). It has not been issued since Adi Kunalic and Jase Dean wore it in the 2008 season.

**An aside to an aside on Novak: He wore three different numbers  during his Nebraska career. He wore 68 in his first two seasons and 61 as a junior, before moving to 60 as a senior.

Dave Rimington already had his jersey retired back in 1982. Additionally, the number 50 was out of circulation between 1982 and 1996, when linebacker Julius Jackson wore it. Since then, it’s been issued 27 of the last 28 seasons. No disrespect to the guys who have worn #50 in that span (notably, Kurt Mann and Jermarcus “Yoshi” Hardrick), but it has a rather forgettable group of players.

But Dave Rimington is in an entirely different category. Among the many, many bullet points on his résumé, these three stand out:

  • The only two-time winner of the Outland Trophy (1981, 1982).
  • 1981 Big 8 Offensive Player of the Year. In the long history of the Big 8, this was the first and only time a lineman won that honor.
  • First Nebraska student-athlete (regardless of sport) to be inducted into the CoSIDA Academic All-American Hall of Fame. For a school that rightfully touts its nation-leading number of Academic All-Americans, Rimington is still at the head of the class.

We’ve focused primarily on his playing career and academic success, but Rimington’s achievements after retiring from football (president of the Boomer Esiason Foundation, former interim Nebraska athletic director, namesake of a major college football award) are also the stuff of legend.

Fans tend to toss around “GOAT” labels rather loosely. But Dave Rimington is a true GOAT.

It is time to permanently retire #50.


Dave Feit (on behalf of Husker Nation)