Nebraska welcomes back Frank Solich for Tom Osborne Legacy Award


Everyone knows how difficult it is to be the person who follows a legend.

It’s almost always better to be the guy replacing the guy who follows a legend.

In the case of Nebraska football, fans are finding that sometimes you don’t realize just how good you had it.

Tom Osborne replaced College Football Hall of Famer Bob Devaney and won three national championships in his 25 years on the Huskers sideline. His winning percentage of .836 is fifth all time.

Osborne handpicked Frank Solich as his replacement — and Solich obviously had huge shoes to fill.

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He led the Big Red to a conference title, but Solich was fired after a 9-3 season in 2003, leaving with a winning percentage of .753.

His six years were considered a disappointment.

At least, that was the case before the next three coaches fell well short of his accomplishments.

So maybe it’s not all that shocking that Solich is being honored.

Husker Nation is bringing back Solich in January when he’ll receive — fittingly — the Tom Osborne Legacy Award from the Football Writers Association of America.

While Solich never quite satisfied Nebraska’s near-impossible standards, he had a better record to start his career than Osborne.

Osborne has always been a huge Solich supporter, and it was his influence that made this homecoming possible.

“It will kind of bring some closure and full circle to the thing,” Osborne told The Associated Press. “The guy made a significant contribution here, first as a player, and he was with me for 19 years. And he was a great coach. People don’t realize if you win 75 percent of your games, play for a national championship, been a conference champion and come close a couple other times, that may be about all you can ask for.”

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The Osborne Award goes to someone connected to the legendary Nebraska coach who, in part, exhibits integrity, sportsmanship and fair play. Previous winners include Barry Switzer, Bobby Bowden and Milt Tenopir.

Solich won 58 games in his six seasons in Lincoln and led the Huskers to the 2001 BCS title game.

Just for context, no subsequent Nebraska coach has had a season with fewer than four losses.

Sometimes, you don’t know what you had until you lose it.

Osborne’s last quarterback in Lincoln, Scott Frost, is the new head coach at his alma mater.

Solich, incidentally, has gone 97-71 at the University of Ohio in 13 seasons.

The award ceremony will take place Jan. 9 in Omaha.

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Mike is an 11-time Michigan Emmy Award winner who has spent nearly 30 years working in sports media.
Mike has spent nearly 30 years in all aspects of sports media, including on-air, 10 at ESPN and another 10 at Fox Sports Detroit. He now works as a TV agent, and lives with his family in West Bloomfield, MI.
Sudbury, Massachusetts
11-time Michigan Emmy winner
Emerson College
Books Written
The Longest Year: One Family's Journey Of Life, Death, And Love/If These Walls Could Talk: Detroit Tigers/If These Walls Could Talk: Detroit Lions
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