Leadership

Plaque Dedicated to Devaney and Osborne Close-Up

Coach Osborne's success with the Nebraska football program undoubtedly derived from the unrelenting guidance and support that he gave his players (Huskers.com). Getting a group of 70 athletically talented young men to work as a cohesive team is one thing; to get them to win is another. The Huskers' consistent success as a team was thanks to Osborne's success as a leader.

Osborne's philosophy centered around selflessness and understanding (Osborne). In his book Beyond the Final Score, Osborne discusses his insights on leadership: "One thing I have noticed: worldview and effective leadership are linked. How a person leads is greatly influenced by his or her understanding of the world". When Osborne took over the head coaching position, he began to shift his focus away from the outcomes and towards the people in his life. "I tried to inspire and motivate rather then reward and punish," he said (Osborne).

Throughout his coaching career, he emphasized positive criticism and feedback. "I encouraged my staff to approach the players using constructive comments...instead of tearing a player down for doing something wrong, we emphasized what they were already doing right" (Osborne). Osborne believed that players knew the mistakes they had made; what they needed was someone to tell them how to fix those mistakes (Osborne). By punishing bad behavior - giving poor effort or disobeying instructions, for instance - not mistakes, Osborne established a culture of understanding and support that led to great trust between players and coaches (Osborne).

Osborne believed in much more than using the players to win games. "After a while, I began to see [the players] as valuable for who they were instead of what they could do" (Osborne). The coach believed in not only cultivating players' talent, but also in cultivating players' on a personal and spiritual basis (Osborne). He cared more about the process of improvement just as much as he did about the score at the end of a game (Osborne).

Bob Devaney was also an incredible leader for the Nebraska Cornhusker football team.  When he began coaching at Nebraska, the Huskers were coming off of five losing seasons, one of which only had one win (Israel).  In his eleven seasons at Nebraska, Devaney effectively turned a losing team that was the laughingstock of the league into a powerhouse of college football.

Devaney’s success at Nebraska was astounding.  This was due, mainly, to his leadership, his effectiveness at relating to and motivating players (Israel).  His leadership inspired and motivated his team and, according to an unnamed former player, “You would absolutely die for coach Devaney” (Israel).  He was an inspiration to all, even beyond the players on his team. Tom Osborne, who was at the time an assistant coach, was also affected by Devaney’s leadership and stated, “Bob epitomized the value of loyalty, and I will always be grateful for the confidence he showed in me.  Because of his leadership and empowerment as a coach and an athletic director, I was fortunate to serve 25 years as head coach".