This week I'm bringing out a short snippet of the Dr. Tom interview from "Through These Gates" to share because I think it's an interesting thing to talk about with the state of Husker football being what it is.
In the above video, which you should watch first just so you can follow my thought process, Coach Osborne talks about the first games he saw at Memorial Stadium. He watched from the stands, he watched from the knothole section, and now he watches from his multimillion-dollar suite. It's like the Husker version of Eminem's career but with far less swearing and even less drug use.
So do me a favor everyone and try to follow along with me while I paint a picture of where my mind went when I rewatched him talk about his earliest memories.
As a child he was a fan. Back then there was no sellout streak and there were no television contracts. For many fans there wasn't even electricity let alone TVs (I'm looking at you, Crofton). Husker football was just something you did to get away from the day-to-day grind of farmwork and small-town life.
So... Dr. Tom goes to college. He wasn't Doctor Tom yet at this point he was just, like, Under Grad Tom or something. He graduates, and has a short stint in the NFL and then comes back to the greatest state in the union.
By this point, a man named Bob Devaney is in charge of his hometown team.
Memorial Stadium looks different, the sellout streak is just beginning, and the Huskers are winning. A lot. Osborne gets a job with the new beloved coach and works himself up through the ranks. NFL Tom, as I'm sure they called him at this point, now gets to meet all those players he looked up to as a child.
Offensive Coordinator Tom helps win our first two official Nattys with Coach Devaney.
When Bob Devaney retires, O.C. Tom becomes the Coach Osborne that we all know and love. After several near misses over a couple of decades, he wins three national championships of his own. One of those was led by Scott Frost.
Tom saw us from the dregs to the promised land. It's like if the young man who helped build the White House grew up to become the president. A beloved president at that.
This wasn't just a frivolous endeavor either. Many businesses were made and families fed because of the hard work and perseverance Coach showed during his time there. I think it's fair to say that Lincoln has partly became what it is today because of the success of his teams.
Dr. Tom retires and the very field he dreamt about as a child is named after him and the university gives him a skybox.
The knothole section no longer exists, we make millions a year from live television contracts, and the entire world knows about Husker football. If you think I'm exaggerating, I'm not. I bought a Russian Nesting Doll of our star quarterbacks in Moscow when I was there visiting my wife's family. I heard several first-hand experiences of people watching Husker games in some bar in Spain. We are global.
I think that my favorite thing about Coach Osborne is that in a world that rewards bravado, he stayed humble. If it had been me, I'd have been screaming about how great I was from the roof top of gateway mall. A flame thrower in one hand, a Lazlo beer in the other, demanding that they make a "Tweedy IPA" that cost 100 dollars a bottle.
We're different people, Tom and I.
I guess after saying all this, my last thought is that I hope he doesn't have to watch everything he helped create dissolve in his golden years. The very player he taught, being the final nail in the coffin. Irony at it's finest.
I don't think that will be the case. I certainly hope it won't. I think there's still breath in Nebraska, still a heartbeat there somewhere. It's faint and we better get those paddle things quick and get it back on it's feet. Not just for the university, the fans and the players...
...but for Dr. Tom most of all.