Nebraska and football just go together and to just about every Nebraskan Tom Osborne is a football legend. . Former Nebraska football coach, member of Congress, and currently University of Nebraska Athletic Director spoke at the small school of Elmwood-Murdock just before the University of Nebraska joined the Big 10 and here is what he had to say.
This was just over a week before the Nebraska Huskers kick off their season, Tom Osborne would take time out of his busy schedule to speak to Elmwood-Murdock Booster Club event. This says volumes about his character.
Elmwood-Murdock High School not a Class A school, we don’t have a huge population base, but Doctor Tom explained it this way. “We scheduled this function quite a while ago, and although Rose Bowl committee was in town today and wanted me to attend a function tonight. I told them I had somewhere more important to attend.”
Tom Osborne is a very soft-spoken man, even with a mic it was difficult to hear him and you could have heard a pin drop in the auditorium as everyone was as quiet as they could be so they could hear him speak.
Many people speak about character, and Tom emphasized that “Character is not inherited, or a trait, it is a choice.” A choice the “defines how you act when there are no sanctions” (an appropriate football reference) “It’s how you act when no one is looking, when you know you won’t get caught. Will you follow the rules when the coach isn’t looking? Return that wallet when you could keep the $50 inside.”
Tom referenced another famous Nebraska native, Warren Buffet who once said that “Character was an aspect he looked for in an employee, along with Intelligence and Energy.” Intelligence and energy were wonderful, but without character a lot of harm could be created. A positive character was a trait Tom looked for in players. “Character will define how you react in adversity” Will you blame, divide or see adversity as an “opportunity to learn and grow.”
Very few times will you hear a public figure speak about spirituality. Tom Osborne does not shy away from this topic. He considers “spiritual dimension to be very important to character. Even if someone is not religious, spirituality is important. Every morning the football players had an opportunity to participate in morning devotionals and prayer before every game. The players were willing to sacrifice themselves for the team. ”
I couldn’t help but think of Notre Dame and the troubles in Happy Valley when former Coach Osborne spoke of honesty being part of character that he cherishes and looks for in a player. “It’s telling the truth, even when it won’t make you look good. A good reputation takes 30 years to build, but only five minutes to wreck”
This man has lived and built his character and reputation through not only how he has coached the Nebraska Huskers, but also through community service. He created the TeamMates mentoring program in 1991, volunteers for many community events, and has made many unpopular decisions in support of his players.