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Dr. Thomas William "Tom" Osborne (born February 23, 1937, in Hastingsmarker, Nebraskamarker) is a former college football head coach and a former member of Congress. He is currently the athletic director at the University of Nebraskamarker.

He was the head coach of the Cornhuskers football team for 25 years (197397), succeeding Bob Devaney. After coaching, Osborne was elected to Congress in 2000 and served six years in the U.S. House as a Republican from Nebraska's 3rd district.

Biography

Early life

Born and raised in Hastingsmarker, Osborne graduated from Hastings High School in 1955, the same year he was awarded the Nebraska boys high school athlete of the year award by the Omaha World Herald. He then stayed in town to attend Hastings College, and graduated with a B.A. in history in 1959, then played three seasons in the NFL as a wide receiver for the Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers.

Osborne earned his M.A. in educational psychology from Nebraska in 1963 and a doctorate in educational psychology there in 1965. He also served in the Nebraska National Guard from 1960–66.

Coaching career

In 1964, Osborne joined the Cornhusker coaching staff as an unpaid offensive assistant to head coach Bob Devaney; his only compensation was being able to dine at the athletic training table. After two disappointing 6–4 seasons in 1967 and 1968, Devaney named Osborne as offensive coordinator for the 1969 season. Osborne immediately overhauled the offense, switching to a balanced attack operated from the I formation. The revamped offense sparked the Huskers to the national title in 1970. The Huskers defeated LSU 17-12 in the 1971 Orange Bowl and finished first in the post-bowl AP poll, but third in the final UPI coaches' poll. (Through the 1973 season, the final UPI coaches poll was released before the bowls, making it a "regular season" title.) UPI awarded its title to Texas, which lost to Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl (#2 Ohio State also lost, to Stanford in the Rose Bowlmarker). Nebraska was 13-0 in 1971 and a consensus national champion, defeating the next three teams in the final AP poll: Oklahoma, Colorado, and Alabama.

Devaney announced he would step down as head coach at age 57 after the 1972 season to concentrate on his duties as athletic director, and named Osborne as his successor.Following a convincing win over Notre Dame in the 1973 Orange Bowl (NU's third straight in that bowl), Tom Osborne, age 35, took over as head coach.He was head coach for 25 seasons, through the 1997 season, serving for most of that time as his own offensive coordinator.

Legacy

In his quarter-century as head coach, Osborne was a model of consistency. His teams never won fewer than nine games in a season, finished in the top 15 of the final AP poll 24 years out of 25 (having finished 24th in 1990), and were ranked in every single weekly AP poll barring one week in 1977 and two in 1981. Osborne's teams won outright national championships in 1994 and 1995, and a share of another in 1997. Osborne's Huskers also won or shared 12 Big Eight Conference titles and one Big 12 Conference title. His 255–49–3 record gave him the best winning percentage (83.6%) among active NCAA Division I-A coaches at the time of his retirement and the fifth-best of all time. As of 2006, only Joe Paterno of Penn State has reached 200 victories in fewer games. But Osborne, who went on an NCAA record 60–3 run over his final five seasons, won 250 games faster than any coach in Division I-A history.

Osborne's teams were known for their powerful rushing attack and strong defense (also known as the Blackshirts—referring to the black jerseys that are worn in practice by the defensive starters and certain selected special teams players). Nebraska led the nation in rushing several times in the 1980s and 1990s, due to the efforts of men like Jarvis Redwine, Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier, Calvin Jones, Ahman Green and Lawrence Phillips. After struggling to defend Oklahoma's wishbone option in the 1970s, Osborne switched from a balanced attack to an option offense in 1980 in order to utilize the versatility of dual-threat quarterbacks, such as Turner Gill, Tommie Frazier, and Scott Frost.

Entering the 1984 Orange Bowl, the 1983 Cornhuskers were 12–0 and ranked #1 in the country for the entire season. Nebraska scored a late touchdown against the #5 ranked Miami Hurricanes to narrow the score to 31–30. Rather than attempt an extra point to tie, Osborne opted to attempt the 2-point conversion and go for the win. However, Gill's pass attempt was tipped away in the end zone, giving hometown Miami the victory and the national championship.

In 1993, the Huskers again narrowly lost a national championship. Having gone into the 1994 Orange Bowl as a 17-point underdog to Florida State, Nebraska fought back from a 15–7 deficit to take a 16–15 lead with less than two minutes remaining in the Orange Bowl. After Florida State drove to retake the lead 18–16, Nebraska managed to hit a quick downfield pass as time ran out in order to get one last field goal attempt, which sailed wide. It was the last bowl game Osborne ever lost. The next year, however, Osborne earned his first title as head coach, defeating Miami in the 1995 Orange Bowl. The Huskers, who initially trailed, rallied to win 24–17. The next year, the Huskers roared through the regular season, stayed atop the rankings for all but one week, and crushed the Florida Gators 62–24 in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl, earning Osborne his second national championship. The 1995 team was voted as the greatest college football team of all-time in an ESPN poll. His 1994 and 1995 teams still stand as the only undefeated, consensus back-to-back national champions in Division I-A college football since Oklahoma in 1955-56.

Osborne announced his retirement as head coach late in the 1997 season, selecting Frank Solich, his longtime running backs coach, to succeed him. In his final five seasons, Osborne's record was a staggering 60–3 (.952), the strongest finale to any coaching career in college football history.

Osborne was inducted into the College Football Hall of Famemarker in 1999, and in 2000, he received the Jim Thorpe Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1999, ESPN honored Osborne as the coach of the decade for the 1990s. This honor is even more impressive considering the fact that he did not coach for 20% of the decade. In a 2007 online ESPN poll, Osborne was voted the "greatest college football coach of all time". Osborne was chosen as the 2008 recipient of the American Football Coaches Association's (AFCA) highest honor, the Tuss McLaughry Award for the highest distinction in service to others.

Head coaching record

Through the 1973 season, the final UPI coaches' poll was released
at the end of the regular season, before the bowl games.


Athletic director

Osborne and the 1997 national championship team were the guests of honor at the Huskers' 2007 Homecoming game on October 13th. Just two days after the resulting 45–14 loss to Oklahoma State – Nebraska's worst home loss since being shut out 31–0 by Missouri on November 1, 1958 – athletic director Steve Pederson was fired. On October 16, 2007, Osborne was announced as the interim athletic director, following Pederson's departure. On November 24, 2007, Osborne fired head coach Bill Callahan following a 5–7 season. Osborne appointed himself the interim head coach so that he could perform recruiting duties while remaining in compliance with NCAA rules. On December 2nd, Osborne named Bo Pelini the new head coach of Nebraska.

On December 19th, it was announced that Osborne would remain as athletic director through June 30, 2010, effectively moving him from interim status to permanent. Osborne will be paid $250,000 per year and will manage Nebraska's 23-sport program.

Political career

House of Representatives

Early in 2000, Osborne announced that he would run in Nebraska's 3rd District as a Republican. He had grown up in Hastingsmarker, one of the larger cities in the sprawling district, and claimed a home in Lemoynemarker, near North Plattemarker, as his district residence. However, he hadn't lived regularly in the district since at least 1964; for most of that time he'd lived in Lincoln, the heart of the 1st District. Nonetheless, due to his wide popularity in the state, he easily won the Republican primary, which was tantamount to election in what has long been one of the most Republican districts in the nation. He breezed to victory in November with 83 percent of the vote. He was reelected with no major-party opposition in 2002 and against an underfunded Democrat in 2004.

In Congress, Osborne's voting record was moderate to conservative. He garnered a lifetime rating of 83 from the American Conservative Union.

At one point, Osborne teamed up with Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers, normally his political adversary, to oppose efforts to expand gambling in Nebraska.

2006 governor's race

In 2006, Osborne ran for Governor of Nebraska, challenging Governor Dave Heineman and Omaha businessman Dave Nabity in the Republican primary.

Osborne was initially thought to be the favorite in the race, given his tremendous popularity in the state. However, Heineman took 49 percent of the more than 197,000 votes cast while Osborne took 45 percent.

The Lincoln Journal Star analyzed the race:
While Osborne captured populous Omaha and Lincoln, Heineman sealed his victory in rural counties and key population centers in western and central Nebraska’s critical Republican battleground....

...it was the political impact of two gubernatorial vetoes that appeared to lift [Heineman ] into a late surge, especially in Osborne’s congressional district.

Heineman’s opposition to Class I rural school reorganization and the granting of resident college tuition rates to the children of illegal immigrants cut into Osborne’s support.

Osborne declined to sign referendum petitions seeking voter repeal of the rural school legislation and said he would have signed the resident tuition bill." [47434]


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