Hall of Fame and three-time national champion football coach Thomas Osborne assumed the role of Nebraska University's (NU) Interim Athletic Director on October 16, 2007. He most recently served the state of Nebraska in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is also one of college football's coaches with the most wins of all time with 255 victories in his 25 seasons as Nebraska's coach from 1973 to 1997.
"Courage; Generosity; Fairness; Honor; In these are the true awards of manly sports," are the words inscribed on Nebraska's Memorial Stadium some 14 years before Mr. Osborne was born. These words have become more fitting now that the field inside that stadium is now called Tom Osborne Field in honor of a man who in 25 seasons on the Husker sideline built a total program based on more than winning.
Widely known for his leadership, integrity, honor and compassion, Mr. Osborne has poured time and effort into building a unique mentoring program within the state. The TeamMates program, founded by the Mr. and Mrs. Osborne in 1991, provides support and encouragement to school-aged youth with the goal of seeing children graduate from high school and pursue a post-secondary education.
Mr. Osborne's era of excellence received another lasting tribute when the new Tom and Nancy Osborne Athletic Complex opened in 2006, and he took on a new challenge when he was asked by Chancellor Harvey Perlman to assume of Interim Athletic Director.
Thomas Osborne, who retired from coaching after leading the Nebraska football team to its third national championship in four seasons in 1997, continued to serve the state of Nebraska at the highest levels following his Hall of Fame career. He recently concluded three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives as a congressman from Nebraska's third district.
Mr. Osborne's coaching career came to a poetic end in the 1998 Orange Bowl. In his final game, the Huskers defeated No. 3 Tennessee, 42-17, giving him a share of a third national title in his final four seasons. The victory left him as the first coach in college football history to retire as a reigning national champion, along with the nation's best active winning percentage (.836, 255-49-3), which ranked fifth all-time among Division I coaches.
Nebraska's back-to-back national titles in 1994-95 made Thomas Osborne the first coach to accomplish that feat since Bear Bryant led Alabama to titles in 1978-79. Under him, NU became just the second school all time and the first since Oklahoma in 1955-56 to post back-to-back perfect national championship seasons. In fact, his last five Nebraska teams put together the best five-year run in collegiate football history with an amazing 60-3 record, including five consecutive 11-win seasons.
Mr. Osborne's Nebraska teams captured 13 conference crowns, including six of his last seven seasons on the sideline. Achievements of that magnitude earned him an immediate ticket to the College Football Hall of Fame in December of 1998, after it waived the customary three-year wait for entrance into the hall. He is one of only four coaches (along with Eddie Robinson of Grambling) to have the three-year waiting period waved.