The success of any college football program ultimately begins with finding the right head coach. Those men who have won the most generally share an ability to lead, strategize and recruit better than their contemporaries, and they are remembered long after their time in charge is complete.
This week on the Big Ten blog, we're taking a look at the top-5 coaches over the years for each program. Some are more widely recognized than others, but all had a positive impact on the fortunes of their respective programs.
We move on now to the Nebraska Cornhuskers:
1. Tom Osborne, 255-49-3 (1973-1997): It's hard to believe now that Osborne was dogged early in his career for an inability to win the big games. His consistency, however, could never be questioned. Of all the amazing facts about his coaching record, this one might be the most mind-blowing: He never won fewer than nine games in any of his 25 seasons as the Huskers boss. And when the final breakthrough at long last arrived, it did so in a big, big way. Osborne led Nebraska to national titles in 1994, 1995 and 1997, his last season, in one of the most dominant stretches the sport has ever witnessed. He was an offensive innovator and is still maybe the most beloved Nebraskan of all time.
2. Bob Devaney, 101-20-2 (1962-72): You could argue that Devaney deserves the top spot, as he basically rescued the program from the dregs of mediocrity and elevated it to national superpower status, mentoring Osborne along the way. We still think Osborne's longevity and three national titles (not to mention his role in Devaney's offense) gives him the edge, but neither choice for the top spot is a bad one. Devaney won back-to-back national titles in 1970 and 1971 and three straight Orange Bowls to close out his career.
3. Ewald O. "Jumbo" Stiehm, 35-2-3 (1911-1915): The delightfully-named first full-time coach in Nebraska history turned in a dominant tenure that Osborne and Devaney could applaud. He never lost a game in the Missouri Valley Conference and led the team to 34 straight victories at one point. He also won a conference title as Nebraska's basketball coach. He left for Indiana when the school turned down a Rose Bowl invitation and refused to give him a $750 raise. If only the Big Ten Network were around in 1915 ...
4. Walter "Bummy" Booth, 46-8-1 (1900-05): Vastly different eras, for sure, but Booth's 1902 team could claim to be more impressive than Osborne's 1995 squad. Those 1902 Huskers went 9-0 and outscored opponents 159-0. The following season, Booth guided Nebraska to a 10-0 record. His .845 winning percentage is higher than that of Osborne and Devaney.
5. Dana X. Bible, 50-15-7 (1929-1936): Under Bible, the Huskers won six Big Six titles in eight years. They finished No. 9 in the Associated Press poll in his last season after a 7-2 campaign. Bible then left for Texas -- a move that would break the internet if it happened in 2016 -- and he would later be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.