Tom Osborne‘s run as the face of Nebraska athletics will, for the second time, officially come to an end in very short order.
At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Osborne announced that he will be stepping down as NU’s athletic director, effective Jan. 1. 2013. At that point, Osborne will hold the title of athletic director emeritus, but will continue to be actively involved in athletic department operations through July 30, 2013.
A search for the 75-year-old Osborne’s successor has already commenced.
“It has been a pleasure and an honor to work in the Athletic Department for the past five years,” Osborne said in a statement. “I hope that there have been some good things that have been accomplished during that time. I appreciate Chancellor Perlman giving me this opportunity. I’ve had the privilege of working with some outstanding people in the Athletic Department and have confidence that the trajectory of the Athletic Department is very good.”
Osborne spent 25 years as the Cornhuskers’ head football coach, compiling a 255-49-3 record — including three national championships — between1973 and 1997. After retiring from football, Osborne served as a U.S. Congressman from 2000-2006, representing Nebraska’s 3rd District.
His failed bid in 2006 for the Nebraska governorship was followed the next year by his naming as NU’s 13th athletic director.
Arguably the biggest achievement as head of Husker athletics was his guiding the department in its move from the Big 12 to the Big Ten.
“It’s been a privilege to work with Tom,” chancellor Harvey Perlman said. “The move into the Big Ten could not have happened without Tom’s support.
“He has made the facilities stronger and has expanded the department’s role in assisting students through the student life center. He has been instrumental in incorporating research facilities into the athletics complex that build on the department’s reputation for innovation. The university and the state of Nebraska are in his debt for the many contributions he has made to both over the course of his career.”
In the midst of reports that he had a physical altercation with one of his Tennessee players during summer camp this year, Butch Jones labeled the speculation “absolutely ridiculous.”
Apparently, his bosses agree with the head coach.
At a board meeting Thursday, UT-Knoxville chancellor Jimmy Cheek stated that he and athletic director Dave Hart had done their “due diligence” in investigating the accusations that Jones and senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder were involved in some type of physical skirmish during practice this past August. The end result of interviews with Jones, coaches and players was the conclusion that there was nothing to the reports and message-board rumors.
“There’s been a lot of rumor and misinformation on social media and message boards about an alleged incident during football practice,” Cheek said according to GoVols247.com‘s Wes Rucker. “It’s not our practice to respond to rumors, but I thought it was important to let you know that we’ve done our due diligence and Dave Hart and I are very confident there was no inappropriate conduct with any players or coaches.”
Shortly after Cheek spoke at the board meeting, Crowder took to Twitter with a series of missives that speaks around the issue.
Michigan played without its leading rusher in Week 5. The Wolverines are hoping there won’t be a repeat in Week 6.
De'Veon Smith sustained a lower-leg injury in the Week 4 win over BYU and didn’t travel with the team for last Saturday’s win over Maryland. Smith has been practicing with his teammates throughout the first few days of this week, and head coach Jim Harbaugh is guardedly optimistic that the running back will be available for what’s turned into a huge Big Ten matchup with Northwestern Saturday in the Big House.
“He’s practicing and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’s going to stay good and be ready to play,” Harbaugh said during a radio appearance Thursday morning. “But we’ll (keep) looking at that every day.”
Despite essentially missing a game and a half, Smith currently leads the Wolverines with 331 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. He’s added four receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown coming out of the backfield the first four games.
Should Smith be unable to go again, the Wolverines have three other backs with at least 100 yards on the ground: Ty Isaac (187, 7.2 yards per carry), Drake Johnson (125, 4.2 ypc) and Derrick Green (100, 3.3 ypc).
In addition to Smith, Harbaugh is hopeful Channing Stribling will be available this weekend as well. The starting cornerback didn’t play against the Cougars because of injury