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What REALLY hurt Osborne's approach to program dominance?

Huskerfan69

Scout Team
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.

yep, 100% spot on and I agree.. NU didn't adjust fast enough to this, but the biggest problem football had came from NU itself..
 
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Husker In Oklahoma

All Big 10
15 Year Member
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).
Well, they weren’t eligible as freshmen, giving them a full year to get acclimated, and focused on their grades. Pretty simple, they either make it or they don’t? Why not let them sink or swim? It’s purely some egotistical, white, suits.
 

Husker In Oklahoma

All Big 10
15 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?
I gotcha. Texas sucked in the 1980’s and 1990’s, mostly. The jucos must have not helped them. They should have looked at Kansas State on how to use jucos.

You could be right about IWCC, I just don’t recall exactly but it seems it was around that time.
 

KleinTxHusker

All Legend
15 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?
Lawrence Phillips would be one.
 

KleinTxHusker

All Legend
15 Year Member
Do you mean a partial qualifier? I don't think he was. He scored very well on his testing, and he had his grades together in late high school. Osborne said that he was a very high IQ guy.
I recollect that he had to score high on either ACT or SAT and did. But it was because he had some poor grades.

But I think you’re right, he was immediately eligible and scholarship from get go. But I thought his grades were questionable enough that a lot of “name brand” programs (USC e.g.) backed off.

So you’re correct, he was not a partial qualifier.
 
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Middle-aged_Ball_Coach

Eternal Chairman of the Defense Commission
2 Year Member
I recollect that he had to score high on either ACT or SAT and did. But it was because he had some poor grades.

But I think you’re right, he was immediately eligible and scholarship from get go. But I thought his grades were questionable enough that a lot of “name brand” programs (USC e.g.) backed off.

So you’re correct, he was not a partial qualifier.

In the documentary about LP, Osborne mentioned that he had been given an IQ test, and he had scored very high. By the rules of the time, if LP's grades were below a 2.5 GPA, he had to score significantly higher on the SAT or ACT to be eligible. I'd guess that Osborne had his staff administer an IQ test to in some way get a bead on the likelihood of his passing the SAT/ACT minimum requirements. Other schools would have backed off. Nebraska was the only blue blood program of the era who was willing to work with and wait on partial qualifiers to become eligible. We were probably the only top tier program who kept faith that LP would qualify, and even if he didn't, he likely would have been taken as a partial qualifier. LP--despite all of his other well known shortcomings--was very loyal, so I imagine that Osborne's willingness to stick with him when things were up in the air probably carried extra influence.
 

Husker In Oklahoma

All Big 10
15 Year Member
Yeah, I believe he played as a true freshman
And played well. He had a decent game against FSU in that 18-16 loss (robbery).

Edit. Wouldn’t it have been cool to have seen him without all of his demons? What might have been. When I would hear him speak, he spoke well, seemed like a good dude. Then he lost it. Driving into that crowd of kids was the last straw for him. It’s just to bad he couldn’t grab ahold of the inner issues, which btw, most deal with something. Most are just able to control it.
 
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Huskerthom

All Big 10
5 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!
I saw this last week. It is a great video. I thought the angle of racial bias in the Big 12 and NCAA decision was an interesting take as well. As most of the PQ were minority players from inner city areas with poor school systems. TO was unique in his ability to get these players to not only become great players but more often then not get them to graduation. The main impediment to those players graduating during his tenure was them leaving early for the NFL. However he also opened the avenue for them to come back and finish their schooling if they so desired.
 

Middle-aged_Ball_Coach

Eternal Chairman of the Defense Commission
2 Year Member
I saw this last week. It is a great video. I thought the angle of racial bias in the Big 12 and NCAA decision was an interesting take as well. As most of the PQ were minority players from inner city areas with poor school systems. TO was unique in his ability to get these players to not only become great players but more often then not get them to graduation. The main impediment to those players graduating during his tenure was them leaving early for the NFL. However he also opened the avenue for them to come back and finish their schooling if they so desired.

I agree. I think that it was the staff's ability to identify the guys who would be motivated to put in the work and do the right thing was a large part of the reason why the guys who ended up coming as partial qualifiers were so often turned into success stories.
 
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AUnhusker

Red Shirt
5 Year Member
I saw this last week. It is a great video. I thought the angle of racial bias in the Big 12 and NCAA decision was an interesting take as well. As most of the PQ were minority players from inner city areas with poor school systems. TO was unique in his ability to get these players to not only become great players but more often then not get them to graduation. The main impediment to those players graduating during his tenure was them leaving early for the NFL. However he also opened the avenue for them to come back and finish their schooling if they so desired.

Agree! If I had to guess, one of the reasons TO retired when he did was the impediment to helping disadvantaged kids that limiting prop 48 effected. Osborne didn’t coach football just to win. It was obvious that he was truly motivated by using football to help those young men become productive adults. I agree with the video that TO’s career would likely had been extended had he been able to continue to use Prop 48 to recruit large numbers of athletes. Winning at a high level would have resulted of course. My hypothesis, however, is that the controls of the Husker football were turned over for humanitarian reasons not mainly for football achievement…he had all that…and arguably could have had more if that was what drove him.
 
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