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What REALLY hurt Osborne's approach to program dominance?

Middle-aged_Ball_Coach

Eternal Chairman of the Defense Commission
2 Year Member
RJ Young is a long-time video blogger who started out covering the Sooners with a new vlog every day, but it often expanded to cover other teams. He has a background in football (I think he played DB at Tulsa), and he's very astute and honest. I've been following him for quite a few years because more often than not he was worth watching. He recently got a promotion to a national position as a Fox Sports digital analyst.

Young has been intrigued by the renewal of the Nebraska-Oklahoma rivalry ever since the game was announced, but he has admitted that he's young enough that he can't really remember it as the sort of rivalry game that his parents' generation experienced. His audience trends young, so he was often trying to make people understand how dominant the 90s Nebraska teams were, which brings us to the video that is worth watching:


The main gist of the video is a re-analysis of Tim Layden's insanely prophetic prediction in January of 1996 that the changes in eligibility rules for partial qualifiers in the new Big 12 conference was going to end Nebraska's dominance. That article is the most outstanding example of clear analytical thinking being applied to any sport, anywhere, at any time as far as accurately laying out the cause and effect of the momentous changes that were about to take place. If you've never read the article, here's the Sports Illustrated Vault version of it, and I can't imagine that it will ever be outdated and not worth reading:


If you liked that RJ Young video, I'd recommend subscribing to his channel because he has promised to cover a lot more on the history of the Nebraska-Oklahoma rivalry as the 50th anniversary of the Game of the Century draws near. Young is the epitome of the best of amateur web sports analysts who have been able to make a career out of using a technology in ways that weren't possible 20 years ago. Yes, he's an Oklahoma fan, but he's fun and playful about it. Enjoy!
 
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Husker In Oklahoma

All Big 10
15 Year Member
I used to subscribe to Huskers Illustrated in the 1980’s into the 90’s. I remember them talking about the new rules on prop 48 athletes eligible for the Big 12. I think many thought it could hurt then, but, Osborne being HC lessened the blow. Had he stayed, say, until 2005, Nebraska keeps rolling. Without him, and his broad presence, and rules changing, I’m not sure NU adapted to it quick enough. It hurt recruiting and quickly, NU started running out of Osborne recruits. The dynamics of everything changed. Frank wasn’t Tom, it was different with him walking into someone’s living room that it was Tom.

Not being able to take prop 48 hurt them. Other universities were to snobby to accept someone like that. Btw, I thought college was to ‘help’ people, not turn them away. LOL. If the minimum qualifications are met, why they hell wouldn’t you want to help them, aren’t they educators? Or status mongers? I think we know the answers to that. That is something I will never understand.
 

Middle-aged_Ball_Coach

Eternal Chairman of the Defense Commission
2 Year Member
Not being able to take prop 48 hurt them. Other universities were to snobby to accept someone like that. Btw, I thought college was to ‘help’ people, not turn them away. LOL. If the minimum qualifications are met, why they hell wouldn’t you want to help them, aren’t they educators? Or status mongers? I think we know the answers to that. That is something I will never understand.

I completely agree with this. We had partial qualifiers who were consistently graduating, and I thought that some even earned academic honors. I appreciated that RJ Young took this perspective in the video.
 
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Middle-aged_Ball_Coach

Eternal Chairman of the Defense Commission
2 Year Member
I think Texas had the advantage of placing those guys in local jucos then skimming the cream after a couple years

Which was exactly why they had pushed so hard for that rule to be in place for the Big 12. This is one of the key rules where the former Big 8 schools stabbed Nebraska in the back.

@Husker In Oklahoma mentions reading Huskers Illustrated at the time, which my dad got as well, but the OWH did a great job of covering the details, too. Between the two, there was a lot of information being shared. I believe that it was the OWH that did the '95 version of Twitter by quoting the Texas AD, Deloss Dodds, talking at length about the importance of academics, and how it wasn't right to skim the rules by taking partial qualifiers; how they should go to a JC to improve their academics instead; then a former Texas assistant coach was quoted as saying, "I don't remember any of our juco guys ever graduating."

This was also the issue where a (to my knowledge) never identified Big 8 AD stuck the knife in deeper. Osborne and Byrne were complaining about his supporting the Texas position in everything, to which the opposing AD responded, "Well, it would help if you guys lost every once in awhile." There was a heck of a lot of myopia and spitefulness in that comment.
 

NUinID

Junior Varsity
5 Year Member
I happened across this video yesterday and watched it. I do agree that not being able to take prop 48 guys hurt Nebraska a lot in the short term, but it was only 1 component in Nebraska's demise. For me the biggest problem was at the administrative level.

I never understood the opposition to prop 48 guys. If I remember correctly they were not eligible to play as freshman. They could practice, but were basically red shirts and had to make a certain amount of academic progress or they actually lost the RS year of eligibility.
 

Middle-aged_Ball_Coach

Eternal Chairman of the Defense Commission
2 Year Member
Yes, it was only one component, but that had been the key to getting a significant number of our elite players. Osborne would have been able to continue to build on his success after the run that they had had, but the moment he stepped down, the next guy up would have to not only replace Osborne, but he would have to do so without a significant source of what had been NFL elite talent.

If anybody likes to crunch numbers and do some digging, go back and look at how many of Nebraska's NFL draft picks were partial qualifiers. Prop 48 went into effect in '86, so it would be only the recruiting classes from then through '96 that counted. Besides the guys mentioned in the SI article--Tyrone Williams, Christian Peter, Michael Booker, Jamel Williams, Barron Miles, Jared Tomich, Reggie Baul--I was thinking of guys like Johnny Mitchell who also never would have come to Nebraska if they hadn't been partial qualifiers. There are many, many more, but I can't think of them off of the top of my head. Anybody else want to throw out some names?
 

Husker In Oklahoma

All Big 10
15 Year Member
I completely agree with this. We had partial qualifiers who were consistently graduating, and I thought that some even earned academic honors. I appreciated that RJ Young took this perspective in the video.
Yes he did. It’s the truth. Nebraska took those kids and a high % of them were graduating. Isn’t that fulfilling, or, shouldn’t it be? Isn’t that what it’s all about? My gosh, shoot NU because they were helping people, who also got to play a sport they loved, and make something of themselves? Doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.
 

Middle-aged_Ball_Coach

Eternal Chairman of the Defense Commission
2 Year Member
Yes he did. It’s the truth. Nebraska took those kids and a high % of them were graduating. Isn’t that fulfilling, or, shouldn’t it be? Isn’t that what it’s all about? My gosh, shoot NU because they were helping people, who also got to play a sport they loved, and make something of themselves? Doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

Except in light of the opposing AD who wanted us to lose some games every once in awhile.
 

Husker In Oklahoma

All Big 10
15 Year Member
I never understood the opposition to prop 48 guys. If I remember correctly they were not eligible to play as freshman. They could practice, but were basically red shirts and had to make a certain amount of academic progress or they actually lost the RS year of eligibility.
Exactly. I don’t even see an issue. You take a partial qualifier, and he/she, is given strict guidelines to meet. If they don’t meet them, they would be expelled from school. I just don’t understand not wanting to help a person gain entry to something important in a persons life. How gratifying would it be for the folks who helped that person, seeing them walk and graduate? Maybe they came from a poor background, not good surroundings, struggled as a youngster. But then, you throw them some help, they grab that help, and make it. How wonderful that is, seeing that person grow, make it?

How can anyone be against something like that?
 

Middle-aged_Ball_Coach

Eternal Chairman of the Defense Commission
2 Year Member
I don’t recall Texas taking many jucos, but I could be mistaken. Everything that happened with the Big 12 was tilted towards Texas.

In the early 90s they were getting a lot of jucos. Byrne pointed out that saying jucos are better than partial qualifiers was convenient as there were something like 19 junior colleges in Texas at the time,... and none in Nebraska. I might be mistaken, but didn't IWCC start its football program partly due to this rule change?
 

Husker In Oklahoma

All Big 10
15 Year Member
Hell, I’d argue if those other schools weren’t so full of themselves, thinking, ‘those people’ were beneath them, they could have been in there helping some less fortunate kids also. Nope, so let’s hurt the schools that do. Total BS! Educators, you gotta love’em. LMAO! I’d call it more like selfish crooks out for themselves.
 
Yes he did. It’s the truth. Nebraska took those kids and a high % of them were graduating. Isn’t that fulfilling, or, shouldn’t it be? Isn’t that what it’s all about? My gosh, shoot NU because they were helping people, who also got to play a sport they loved, and make something of themselves? Doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.
Mmhmm. Keep in mind these kids have qualified to go to college... it's not like it's watering down the precious academics that universities pretend to be so concerned about. Every one of these eggheads won't blink twice about how many 85 IQ party people or rich & lazy legacies will scrape the left edge of the bell curve while only being there for social reasons, but they're incredibly insecure about the jocks.

The question about "partial qualifiers" is solely whether they'd be eligible to play sports there... and as many of them are poor, the athletic scholarship they'd receive may be the only way they can afford college at all (not to mention getting them into the discipline of an athletic program, where they have the support systems that are a lifeline to get so many of these young men back on track).

Tom Osborne has a heart for people needing that guidance, and had a 25+ year career of overwhelming success into developing, guiding, and correcting them, and doing it the right way as a coach. I don't know how much the conference's decision factored into the timing of his retirement, but it certainly changed the way coaches had to approach finding players, and how they could help certain young men.
 

manawahusker

Red Shirt
2 Year Member
In the early 90s they were getting a lot of jucos. Byrne pointed out that saying jucos are better than partial qualifiers was convenient as there were something like 19 junior colleges in Texas at the time,... and none in Nebraska. I might be mistaken, but didn't IWCC start its football program partly due to this rule change?
IWCC’s first season wasn’t until 2009. T.O. was brought in as a consultant to help them get the program started.
 
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