A Winning Coach and Congressman Emphasizes Traditional Values

According to U.S. Congressman and former University of Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne: “Success in college football often parallels effective business practices. At the beginning of each season, approximately 15 Division 1-A teams possess the tradition, coaching, and talent to win a national championship. The differences among these 15 teams are very slight. Quite often the factor dictating who finishes first, tenth, or fifteenth is largely a matter of character. Those teams that develop a unique chemistry based on factors such as honesty, hard work, self-sacrifice, faith, and loyalty will outperform teams of comparable ability that lack those traits.”

Tom Osborne should know that of which he speaks. He was the head football coach at Nebraska for 25 years. Always a powerhouse, his Cornhuskers won three national championships and Coach Osborne finished with an 84 percent winning record of 255-49-03. The low-key, self-effacing, devoutly Christian Osborne espoused the traditional values of character, honesty, loyalty, sacrifice, hard work, unity, perseverance, and teamwork. In his later coaching years, several Cornhuskers had well-publicized troubles with the law. Coach Osborne pulls no punches when he emphasizes that one of the major reasons for such problems is the breakdown of the family unit in America. He stresses that it is within the family that a person learns the basic values – long before he or she reaches college.
Osborne claimed, “I wouldn’t have decided to run for Congress if my family wasn’t okay with it. My wife Nancy has been incredibly supportive and one thing that made this palpable for my family was I decided if elected, I would commute to Washington. That means fly there on Monday, come back to the district Friday and spend Sundays with my family.”
Most sports fans know of Osborne’s legendary coaching record, but very few know that he also raised three children of whom he is extremely proud. When asked about raising three children while coaching at such a high level he said, “There are obviously some trade-offs. I quit playing golf years ago because there simply wasn’t time for my career demands, family life, and golf. I can’t say what kind of father I was, but I do know I did my best and spent about every spare minute I had with them, and they turned out well.”
Measuring success as a father isn’t as easy as looking at a final score or career won-lost record. But according to Tom Zenner, sportscaster for Fox TV, it’s no accident Osborne is as respected and admired by his former players as he is loved by his children, Mike, Ann, and Suzie. Mike is a marketing professional, Ann is a homemaker, and Suzie, his youngest, is a church youth director.
Zenner said that growing up as an Osborne was certainly tougher for Tom’s three children than it was for Donnie and Marie (of the other Osborne family). The coach told Zenner, “One of the things about being children of a coach is they are always expected to be better athletes or students… They are under way more scrutiny. I remember when we would lose to Oklahoma my kids didn’t want to go to school because of the mental beating they would take. I’m just glad they turned out so well and are doing what they want to do with their lives.”
Some people expected Coach Osborne to spend his retirement years in a stress-free environment. But the move to Washington actually brings his career full circle, since he started his professional life as a tight end for the Washington Redskins about 40 years ago. Osborne claims, “I don’t think sitting in an easy chair resting would be a good option for me. Hopefully, I will benefit the state of Nebraska and my family as well.”
Carl Mays, author of over a dozen books and speaker at over 3,000 events, can be contacted at 865-436-7478 or carlmays@carlmays.com. His books, including A Strategy For Winning, People of Passion, Anatomy Of A Leader, Are We Communicating Yet? and Winning Thoughts, are available in stores, on www.carlmays.com and Amazon.com.


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