1. System Poster

    I’ve come up with another, even better theory. It’s called the Saban-Meyers-Swinney theory which posits that no team is capable of winning a four team playoff without one of those three guys as their head coach. So far, I’m batting 1.000.

  2. Brisn

    Scott Frost has already taken Nebraska from a class ranked in the 70’s to as high as 18th in the country. It is interesting to see his approach, which mixes recruiting some elite 4 star athletes and an elite QB recruit with undervalued players from all over who fit his scheme. A lot of undersized receivers with speed to burn will do very well in his offense. Having a system and recruiting to that system remains critical to success for programs without natural recruiting bases or great traditions. Nebraska, Wisconsin, Texas Tech under Leach and Baylor all proved it can be done.


  3. Tysen

    This is a good read. Something else to consider is that QBs & OL are the hardest positions to evaluate (both NCAA & NFL) so I bet it’s more common to see excellent teams with non blue chips at those positions

  4. SimonTemplar

    The option aspects of the Osborne offense by the mid-’90s were pretty different from most option offenses before or since. The Osborne option was not often based on deception, nor on establishing the threat of the dive play between the tackles. Most options were “load” options led by the FB – the Husker QB did not make an initial read of an unblocked defender, instead he did a perfunctory fake to the FB, who was already sprinting to the edge as a lead blocker. Instead of the QB reading the unblocked defender, the FB usually took that defender out. The QB could then make his only read on the edge with the IB trailing him. Most if not all FB dives in the Husker option were called from the sideline, usually with trap blocking. This could be devastating as a change-up play, as Miami found out in ’94. Husker FBs often averaged ridiculous yards per carry due to the effectiveness of such plays. Overall the speed, strength, and efficiency of the mid-’90s Husker attack meant that the deception central to most option offenses was not needed, outside of the occasional change-of-pace trap, etc. play.

    • ianaboyd

      Word, good comment.

      It’s obvious enough watching them that the goal was to get the ball to the QB or the RB, ideally the RB. The FB mostly served as just another way to create angles and blocks for one of those two guys.

  5. Ralph Livingston

    I’ve been following Nebraska football (Closely) for 49 years. This is the best piece on husker football (and the most enlightening for me) I’ve ever read. Your assessment of Grant Wistrom is a tad low… he was considered a 4.5 star player…So, he is a four star player, so you’re absolutely right. Great article… Thanks

    • ianaboyd

      Thanks for reading! Google my name and Scott Frost and you can find some pieces on your new regime.

    • Agreed, Ralph! One area I didn’t see much focus on was how “culture” in the state (besides having walkons) contributed to the success as one of the key variables.

  6. Lukas Benzel

    Good article, but I think trying to bring PEDs into the conversation was unnecessary and unfounded. I think one of the main things people don’t count enough is the drive and dedication of individuals involved. Tom Osborne and his culture, system, development, staffing, and overall genius running of Nebraska is what made them great. I don’t think I’m giving too much credit either. I once heard someone say that the real judge of something is of it can sustain once the individual who created it is gone but that is ludicrous. Never underestimate the individual’s hand in the process. Solich was a decent coach but he didn’t have the “it” factor Osborne had. Look at what’s happened when people like Osborne leave or take over somewhere. Examples like Urban Meyer (look at every school he’s been at), Tom Osborne, and others (very few though) demonstrate this. Recruiting isn’t the answer. It helps but look athenblue chip argument that is not really proven. It’s development with the right players in the right system with a coach that has the drive and knowledge to be elite. There at many more details that could be discussed but great individuals transform and sustain programs. Gene Chizek is proof that good players only make a coach look good so long, but good coaches take average players and make them great.

    • ianaboyd

      The stories about Nebraska’s superior S&C in the 90s are legendary. Some of it was apparently just stuff like being willing to use creatine before anyone was sure of it carried health risks or not. If you ignore the PED and S&C stuff with 90s Nebraska you can’t make an honest attempt to understand how a school loaded with farm boys from a limited talent pool was totally dominant.

      Also, the end of prop 48s that started to be reflected on the Nebraska roster just as Osborne was heading out the door suggests that maybe his program could indeed have kept going without him.

      After all, his teams were largely guided after by Solich (who’s been successful elsewhere since) and Craig Bohl who went on to build the North Dakota State dynasty and is now working to do the same at Wyoming.

      • Mr. Boyd,
        I’d completely agree with what Luke had to say regarding Osborne and the “it” factor. I would agree with your assessment of PEDS as unfounded. You bring up PEDS like a known fact. Where is the backing research that says this? When I ask my graduate students questions about their papers they write, I’ll often ask, “Says who?” If they can’t back it up, then it’s hearsay! Have you spoken with Boyd Epley, former strength coaches or players, or is this just your opinion? How can this be an “honest attempt,” as you say?

        • ianaboyd

          Of course I don’t have anything except rumors, insider stories, and legends regarding PED use. If I didn’t mention it though and it was like “how did this happen? Who can know???” That’d have been dishonest when many people have a strong guess as to part of how it happened. I didn’t write all about the PED thing but I wasn’t going to ignore it as a possible factor without being able to say one way or the other.

          There’s enough out there that to not mention it is silly.

  7. Ron Conrad

    Nice in-depth article, but I agree with Luke Benzel in that the PED portion wasnt necessary & totally bogus & the same old lame excuse used by others who couldn’t compete or explain Nebraska’s success!

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