How do you replace a legend?
But that is the task ahead for University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman as he seeks the successor of Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne.
Osborne stepped in at a shaky time five years ago, he retires with athletics on the upswing.
“I feel good about where we are as a program. I hope it’s a good situation for somebody to come into. I like the trajectory,” Osborne told a packed media room at Memorial Stadium on Wednesday.
Osborne has announced he will retire January 1st, becoming Athletic Director Emeritus. He will remain active with Athletic Department operations July the end of July next year.
Osborne made his mark as Cornhusker football coach from 1973 through 1997, taking over for Bob Devaney after serving as offensive coordinator. Devaney won two national championships. Osborne would win three: 1994, 1995 and 1997. He retired after the ’97 championship.
Osborne ended his coaching career with a 255-49-3 record; 60-3 in his last five years.
Osborne left athletics to pursue a political career, serving the 3rd Congressional District of Nebraska from 2000 to 2006. Osborne ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2006, losing in the Republican primary to Gov. Dave Heineman.
He returned to the university to teach business when University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman approach him about becoming interim Athletic Director. Eventually, the interim title was dropped.
Experience and credentials will be important in choosing Osborne’s successor, according to Perlman, but anyone who steps in to the office Osborne leaves must grasp the Cornhusker culture.
“I think it is the pride that Nebraskans have for not only winning and losing, but for the holistic view that we take of student-athletes,” Perlman stated.
Perlman explained that when he uses the term “culture” it extends well beyond athletics.
“But, most importantly, I think they have to understand the rich tradition of this department and the culture of this department and what has made Nebraska athletics so important to the state of Nebraska, what Nebraskans are proud of about this department,” Perlman stated.
Perlman says he will conduct the process in private along with the help of a nationally known search consultant, Jed Huges of Korn/Ferry International who helped with the hiring of the athletic director at Michigan and the new commissioner for the Big 12.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]