Some special kind of anticipation begins to sweep across the state each year when the old pigskin is set to appear in Memorial Stadium. For many Husker fans football seasons bring a wonderful mix of eagerness and hope that spans from the still hot days of August to the crisp days of the holiday season.
Just like Woods Bros Realty, Nebraska football began building its rich traditions nearly 125 years ago, and many of those traditions remain. For instance, releasing balloons to celebrate each of the Huskers’ first touchdowns is a tradition begun in the 1940s.
Some newer traditions have evolved. For example, the Tunnel Walk, which is already about 20 years old, gets periodic tweaks. It has served to fire up the team and the crowd with straight game-faces, theatrical smoke, and even a house cat.
Perhaps the proudest Husker tradition of excellence: Nebraska leads the nation in the number of Academic All-Americans in football, (and all NCAA sports).
Success naturally follows solid leadership. Nebraska’s teams have had a great variety of leaders on the field executing plays, and on the sidelines calling them. Bob Devaney, beloved by the fans, was a decisive and creative coach on the sidelines and a colorful character off the field.
Nebraska’s football traditions are richer for the efforts of Tom Osborne. His rock steady demeanor and his dignified approach will always be associated with Husker football, and of course his legacy reaches well beyond sport to make him a distinguished Nebraskan. Among Osborne’s achievements is his incredible record of victories, (255 wins out of 307 games coached). He made Nebraska a consistent winner.
In 1976, the bicentennial year, Nebraska was a preseason favorite to contend for the National championship. Tom Osborne was not yet 40 years old and was already in his third season as head coach. Many people felt that the finest game of the bowl season was that year’s Astro Bluebonnett Bowl in Houston where Osborne’s Nebraska team met Texas Tech on New Year’s Eve. Sometimes you have to shake it up, and Osborne pulled out all the stops to allow the Cornhuskers’ quarterback Vince Ferragamo to lead the team to a big win.
In that same 1976 season, the Woods family made a donation that added the delightful Little Red Fire Truck to the traditions of the state’s great game.