The Nebraska Cornhuskers represent the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in college football. The program has established itself as a traditional powerhouse, and has the fourth-most all-time victories of any NCAA Division I-A team. The Cornhuskers are currently in their 117th season and hold an all-time record of 808 - 334 - 40. Nebraska is one of only 7 football programs in NCAA Division I-A history to win 800 games. The Cornhuskers are the winningest college football program of the last 50 years, both by winning percentage and number of wins.
The Cornhuskers' three national championships in Division I collegiate football over the past 25 years are the second most of any university. They have five all time.
Husker football began play in 1890, with a 10-0 victory over the Omaha YMCA on Thanksgiving Day, November 27. During the early years of the program, the team had a number of nicknames: "Bugeaters", "Tree Planters", "Nebraskans", "The Rattlesnake Boys", "Antelopes" and "Old Gold Knights"; "Cornhuskers" became the sole nickname used around 1900.
Nebraska has claimed 46 conference championships and part or all of five national championships: 1970, 1971, 1994, 1995, and 1997. This marked the first time since Notre Dame in 1946-49 when a team won three national championships in four seasons. Nebraska posted a 60-3-0 record between the 1993-97 seasons. ESPN.com has named the 1971 Nebraska Cornhusker team the greatest team of all time.  Famous former Huskers include Heisman Trophy winners Johnny Rodgers, Mike Rozier, and Eric Crouch. Rodgers was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and for the new millennium he was voted the team's "Player of the Century"; his Cornhusker jersey (No. 20) was retired. Rozier was likewise inducted into the hall in 2006. Other Husker players and coaches who are members of the College Football Hall of Fame include: Forrest Behm, Bob Brown, Guy Chamberlin, Sam Francis, Rich Glover, Ken Hunter, Wayne Meylan, Bobby Reynolds, Dave Rimington, George Sauer, Clarence Swanson, Ed Weir, Dave Noble, and coaches Dana X. Bible, Bob Devaney, Biff Jones, Tom Osborne, Eddie "Robbie" Robinson, and Fielding Yost.
The most notable rivals of the Cornhuskers are the Oklahoma Sooners . Nebraska and Oklahoma regularly battled for the Big Eight Conference title until 1996 when the conference became the Big 12. Out of the Big Eight's 89 year history, Nebraska or Oklahoma won or shared the conference championship 71 times. The Cornhuskers and Sooners also played several games during the 1970s and 1980s that decided the national championship.
The Husker defense is known by the nickname of the "Blackshirts." Depictions of the Blackshirts often include a skull and crossbones. This nickname originated in the early 1960s and continued as a reference to the black practice jerseys worn by first-string defensive players during practice. This tradition developed when Bob Devaney had Mike Corgan, one of his assistant coaches, find contrastive jerseys to offset the red jerseys worn by the offense in practice. Further credit is given to George Kelly, Devaney's defensive line coach until 1968, who frequently referred to the top defensive unit by the name; eventually the rest of the coaching staff caught on, while the first mention of the Blackshirts in print was not until 1969.
Since the 1994 season, Nebraska's home games have always opened with the Tunnel Walk. Before the team enters, the HuskerVision screens light up with a burst of computer animation, and "Sirius" (an instrumental by The Alan Parsons Project) blares from the speakers. Accompanied by cheers from the crowd, the Huskers take the field. When the Cornhuskers play at home in Memorial Stadium, the stadium holds more people than the third-largest city in Nebraska. They currently hold the record for the most consecutive sold out home games, which celebrated its 285th occasion when they competed against the Ball State Cardinals on September 22, 2007. The sellout streak dates back to November 3, 1962 during Bob Devaney's first season at Nebraska. The Huskers lost the first game in the current streak, a Homecoming game, to Missouri 16–7; 56,501 fans were in attendance.
The coach who brought about the most wins in Cornhusker history is Tom Osborne, who led the team for 25 seasons, from 1973 to 1997; his final record at Nebraska was 255 wins, 49 losses and 3 ties. During his tenure, the team won three national titles, including one in his final season. Osborne-led teams won at least 9 games every season and 5 times managed to win 12 or more. By the time he was finished the Nebraska coach had compiled a winning percentage of 83.6%, a higher rate than those held by Bobby Bowden, Paul "Bear" Bryant, and Joe Paterno.
Osborne's handpicked successor was Frank Solich, a Nebraska assistant coach and former player. Solich had coached freshmen from 1979-1983 and running backs from 1983-1997. This was following in a tradition because Osborne had been a long-time Cornhusker assistant before Devaney chose him as his successor. Like Osborne, Solich also had big shoes to fill. In his first season, the team got off to a 5-0 start before falling to Texas A&M 21-28. The team went on to a 9-4 record ending up with the most losses since the 1968 season. Over the next three seasons Solich produced better results: 12-1 in 1999 and 10-2 in 2000. The 2001 season looked to be a special one with Heisman candidate Eric Crouch at quarterback. Going into the regular season finale with Colorado, the Cornhuskers were ranked first in the BCS standings and seemed headed to the national championship game. The Colorado Buffaloes proceeded to beat Nebraska 62-36. The 62 points were the most ever allowed by Nebraska up until that point. Solich's team still managed to get into the BCS championship game but it was soundly beaten by the University of Miami Hurricanes 37-14. The next year the team went to a 7-7 record as many speculated about a hangover from those two losses. Several streaks ended in 2002: 21 years ranked in the top 25, and 44 years since finishing with 3 straight losses. Solich fired several staff members and hired Bo Pelini as his new defensive coordinator and Barney Cotton as offensive coordinator.
The next year the team improved to a 9-3 regular season record but that wasn't enough to save Solich's job. Steve Pederson, the university's recently hired athletic director, fired the coach shortly after a come-from-behind victory at Colorado. "I refuse to let this program gravitate to a level of mediocrity," Pederson said of his reasoning. Despite this "mediocrity", Solich's 58 wins during his first six seasons as Nebraska's head coach exceeded that of his two College Football Hall of Fame predecessors: Bob Devaney (53 wins) and Tom Osborne (55 wins)  . Following Solich's dismissal, Pederson named Pelini the interim coach for the Alamo Bowl, improving Solich's team to 10-3 with a 17-3 win against Michigan State; finishing the season ranked #18. In the four years that followed under the Pederson/Callahan leadership, the Huskers finished one season ranked #24, and all others unranked.
A 40-day coaching search ensued after the firing. Pederson conducted the search by himself but rumors of candidates spread through messageboards and traditional media. Houston Nutt, the University of Arkansas' football coach, was rumored to have been offered the job but this was denied by Nebraska officials. In the end, Pederson decided to hire the former coach of the Oakland Raiders, Bill Callahan.
Callahan represented a break from tradition in many ways. First, Callahan was the first head coach in recent history not to be hand-picked by his predecessor. Second, Callahan implemented the West Coast Offense at Nebraska. For years the Huskers had been known for their power-running, option-I offense. The new system relied heavily on a balance between the run and the pass. Interest in Callahan's new system increased amongst Nebraska fans when Nebraska cruised to 56-17 win over the Western Illinois Leathernecks, a Division I-AA team they were heavily favored to beat. However, the excitement quickly faded when Nebraska lost a home game to Southern Mississippi. Things were dismal for Callahan when he returned to Lincoln from Lubbock, Texas, losing by the largest margin in school history: a 70-10 loss to Texas Tech, the first time Nebraska had ever lost to them. In Callahan's first season as head coach in 2004, the team recorded 5 wins and 6 losses. This was the first losing season in over 40 years. This did not go over well with many Husker fans who were used to Nebraska's winning ways. Speculation that the West Coast Offense could not work at Nebraska began to rise. Since then, the team improved to records of 8-4 in 2005 and 9-5 in 2006.
The Nebraska faithful became increasingly alienated from Pederson. Pederson started off on the wrong foot by firing Solich without consulting Osborne. While he reached out to former Huskers who were currently in the NFL, he did not show the same consideration to other ex-Huskers. He would not allow former Huskers on the sideline—not even Rodgers, named the team's "Player of the Century". Rodgers did, however, have seats for himself and a guest in Nebraska's press box. At least Rodgers could get tickets; another member of the Nebraska All-Century team, Jason Peter, reported that when he was living in California, he called to try to get tickets for USC's visit to Lincoln in 2006 and was turned down. In an equally symbolic move, Pederson had pictures of Cornhusker All-Americans and Hall of Famers that lined the walls surrounding the coaching offices removed and replaced with pictures of current players. Many boosters were angry enough to threaten to stop donating to the athletic department. Perhaps most astonishingly, Tom Osborne, long the face of the Huskers program, stopped attending games, and even began serving as a consultant to the athletic program at Creighton University, a school located in Omaha.
Due to conflicts created within the athletic department, and with the community due to his management style, Steve Pederson was fired on October 15 2007. The next day, former coach Tom Osborne was hired to replace Pederson on an interim basis. The day after he was hired, Osborne began mending fences with former Huskers, sending an email to notify them that a limited number of sideline passes would be issued again and that all would be entitled to free game tickets. Later that day, he had the pictures of former players removed by Pederson taken out of storage and hung on a vacant wall in the team offices, and then attended the Huskers practice, inviting several former players to join him. After the Huskers slipped to a 5-7 season in 2007, with the once-mighty Huskers defense torched for 76 points by longtime Big 8/Big 12 doormat Kansas and 65 by Colorado, Osborne fired Callahan.
In October 2006 Nebraska became one of only four Division 1 football teams to have 800 lifetime wins, with a win over Kansas State. Michigan, Notre Dame and Texas also have 800 wins. Nebraska also has the longest continuing series in college football, having played Kansas every year uninterrupted since 1906. The rivalry with Kansas also includes the second longest streak by one team over another. Nebraska ranks 7th in the list of College football's ten most victorious programs, whether judged by total number of wins or by winning percentage.In 2008, Nebraska earned bowl eligibility for the 38th time in the past 40 years.
|Position||Name ||First Season|
|Head Coach||Bo Pelini||2008|
|Associate Head Coach|
Offensive Line Coach
|Assistant Head Coach|
|Ted Gilmore||2004 ‡|
|Shawn Watson||2005 ‡|
Defensive Line Coach
|Linebackers Coach||Mike Ekeler||2008|
|Defensive End Coach||John Papuchis||2008|
|Tight Ends Coach||Ron Brown||2008|
|Secondary Coach||Marvin Sanders||2008|
|Running Backs Coach||Tim Beck||2008|
|Strength and Conditioning Coach||James Dobson||2008|
|Assistant AD for Football Operations||Jeff Jamrog||2008|
|Graduate Assistant||Curt Baldus||2008|
|Graduate Assistant||Ross Watson||2008|
|‡ Retained from staff of previous coach Bill Callahan|
|Italics denote a tie game.|
* - Denotes National title
|1970¹||11-0-1||Orange Bowl||Bob Devaney|
|1971||13-0||Orange Bowl||Bob Devaney|
|1994||13-0||Orange Bowl||Tom Osborne|
|1995||12-0||Fiesta Bowl||Tom Osborne|
|1997²||13-0||Orange Bowl||Tom Osborne|
* Texas retained a #1 ranking in the UPI Poll despite a 24-11 loss to Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl, since the UPI at that time released its final rankings prior to bowl games. Nebraska was #1 in the final AP Poll, conducted after the bowl games.
All team members were selected through an on-line poll at www.huskerwebcast.com during the 1999 football season and through the spring game in April.Top Vote Getter (Votes): Offense - Zach Wiegert (7,951); Defense - Grant Wistrom (6,990); Special Teams - Kris Brown (7,938);Overall - Johnny Rodgers (14,467) -(7,109 - Returns and 7,358 - WR)http://sharkfeet.tripod.com/nebraskallcentury.htm
QB - Tommie Frazier (1992-1995)
IB - Mike Rozier (1981-83)
IB - Roger Craig (1979-82)
FB - Tom Rathman (1983-85)
FB - Joel Makovicka (1995-98)
WR - Irving Fryar (1981-83)
WR - Johnny Rodgers (1970-72)
TE - Junior Miller (1977-79)
OT - Bob Newton (1969-70)
OG - Will Shields (1989-92)
OC - Dave Rimington (1979-82)
OG/C - Aaron Taylor (1994-97)
OG - Dean Steinkuhler (1981-83)
OT- Zach Wiegert (1991-94)
PK - Kris Brown (1995-98)
P - Jesse Kosch (1994-97)
KR - Tyrone Hughes (1989-92)
PR - Johnny Rodgers (1970-72)
DE - Grant Wistrom (1994-97)
DT - Jason Peter (1994-97)
NT - Rich Glover (1970-72)
DT - Neil Smith (1985-87)
DE/OLB - Trev Alberts (1990-93)
DE/OLB - Broderick Thomas (1985-88)
LB - Marc Munford (1984-86)
LB - Ed Stewart (1991-94)
LB - Tom Novak (1946-49)
CB - Michael Booker (1994-96)
CB - Ralph Brown (1996-99)
ROV - Mike Brown (1996-99)
ROV - Mike Minter (1993-96)
As selected by Athlon Sports in 2002.http://www.athlonsports.com/college-football/8013/nebraskas-all-time-teamOffense
WR Johnny Rodgers 1970-72
E Guy Chamberlin 1914-15
TE Tracey Wistrom 1998-2001
OL Bob Brown 1961-63
OL Zach Wiegert 1991-94
OL Dave Rimington 1979-82
OL Dean Steinkuhler 1981-83
OL Will Shields 1989-91
OL Aaron Taylor 1994-97
QB Tommie Frazier 1992-95
RB Mike Rozier 1981-83
RB Bobby Reynolds 1950-52
FB George Sauer 1931-33
K Kris Brown 1995-98
DL Willie Harper 1970-72
DL Ed Weir 1923-25
DL Larry Jacobson 1969-71
DL Rich Glover 1970-72
DL Wayne Meylan 1965-67
DL Grant Wistrom 1994-97
LB Tom Novak 1946-49
LB Jerry Murtaugh 1968-70
LB Trev Alberts 1990-93
DB Dana Stephenson 1967-69
DB Larry Wachholtz 1964-66
DB Pat Fischer 1958-60
DB Dave Butterfield 1974-76
DB Ralph Brown 1996-99
P Dan Hadenfeldt 1997-2000
Nebraska has retired only two numbers, choosing to retire the jersey rather than the number for other players.