Tom Osborne -- Greatest College Football Coach of All-Time

by David
(Denver, CO)

I think you'd have to argue for Tom Osborne, who like Bear Bryant had a 25 year record. His win total was more than Bryant's (255). He only had 3 official national championships (1994, 95, 97) to Bryant's 6.

However, the '82 and '83 huskers were each 1 fluke loss away from the national championships and still arguably the best team in the country those 2 years if not, certainly among the top 2 or 3 at worst. Plus, you have Osborne's last 5 years to finish - arguably the greatest 5 year run ever. 4 undefeated regular seasons, playing for 4 national championships (93, 94, 95, 97) and winning the 3 with a 60 - 3 record.

The '95 Huskers are considered by Athlon and many to be the greatest football team ever - hard to argue unless you think the '71 Huskers are - and they had a young assistant head coach named Tom Osborne. In '93, they outplayed the national champ Seminoles in the bowl game but came short of the win on a wide left field goal as time expired.

In '96, the Huskers were one brilliant John Mackovic 4th down trick play in the first Big 12 championship away from playing undefeated Florida State for the national championship (think revenge and a win for '93) instead of one loss Florida replaying Florida State for the championship.

I know it's a stretch, but you could say of the last 5 years that Nebraska was certainly 1 play away from 4 national championships and 2 plays away from possibly playing for 5 championships in all of Osborne's last 5 years.

You've also got the comparison of Bryant and Osborne on and off the field as men. I know nothing of Bryant off the field - probably was a great and loved man no doubt. He was also a courageous social reformer by telling the southern bigots to go to hell and being the first to racially integrate college football in the South - I'll honor him forever for that. But on the field he was a classic old school tyrant and bully. He yelled, screamed, humiliated and worked players till they dropped.

Dr. Tom Osborne - a PhD in Educational Psychology may have been the only head college football coach in the modern (post WWII) era to have a doctorate in something not sports related. He was intense but not a screamer. He did not humiliate. He built men and character. He served in Congress and now he teaches and administers. There never has been a college football coach like Tom Osborne.

If Pete Carroll sticks around Southern Cal another 15 years doing what he's doing, then we might be able to say Coach Carroll at some point. But not yet.

If you’re talking all college levels, then I would argue (even though he’s not a Husker) that John Gagliardi of St. John’s College is the best ever at 59 college coaching years – mostly winning. Or, that Larry Kehres of Mt. Union – with his 10 or so national championships in 15 years and at one time, a 109 – 1 run, is the best. Maybe Eddie Robinson of Grambling belongs in there for 57 years of coaching great Grambling teams and maybe we ought to consider JoePa – Joe Paterno.

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Feb 10, 2008
Bryant vs Osborne
by: Ken Brown

I have great respect for both coaches but would give the Bear the edge over Dr. Tom (or any other coach for that matter).

Osborne took over a championship program that Hall of Fame coach Bob Devaney built and did a SUPER job over the next 25 years winning at least 9 games each year.

Bear Bryant Built championship programs from pretty much scratch at 3 different schools. I mean winning the SEC at Kentucky is like winning the National Title anywhere else!

He takes over a very down program at Texas A&M and in 3 years the're SWC Champions.

Then mama calls and he goes home to Alabama and builds a dynasty and wins 6 wire service National Titles.

As the old sayings goes "he could take hissins and beat yourins then take yourins and beat hissins".

Game Over.

Oct 30, 2010
Osborne The Best
by: Anonymous

I admire what Bear Bryant did in college football, and consider him one of the best ever to coach the game, but I would have to vote for Dr. Tom Osborne. The point was brought up that Osborne took over an already built program, where Coach Bryant built his from scratch. One very important fact was overlooked in this analysis. Osborne took over a program that He mostly Help build! Osborne was offensive coordinator under Devaney, and it was Osborne who completely changed the offensive philosophy of the Huskers, and went to a more pass oriented offense, and designed new plays that nobody had even heard of! So, taking this into account, in my opinion, i think it can be said that Osborne also built a program up from scratch and turned it into a annual powerhouse program, and with a huge recruiting disadvantage to boot! Osborne was known for turning avg. to good players into excellent players by the time they were done, and many went on to the NFL!

Oct 01, 2011
educational dean- a.s.b.t.r.
by: randy gray

very interesting article,,, obviously you had too much time and not enough knowledge working in your favor. maybe more research will assist you you on any future next time out.

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