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Hammond Column: The legacy of Bob Devaney

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Posted: Saturday, August 31, 2013 8:00 am

Whenever people talk about the football programs at Wyoming and Nebraska, the one name that immediately jumps out is Bob Devaney.

Wyoming and Nebraska will forever be bound in history by the legendary coach.

Devaney was the head coach at Wyoming from 1957-61. He is still the winningest coach in UW history in terms of winning percentage. Devaney posted an overall record of 35-10-5 in five seasons.

During his tenure in Laramie, Devaney led Wyoming to four Skyline Conference titles (two outright championships in 1958 and ‘59, and two co-championships in 1960 and ‘61).

His 1958 squad went 8-3 and won the Sun Bowl by beating Hardin Simmons 14-6.

In 1959, the Cowboys compiled a 9-1 record and ended the season ranked No. 16 in the final Associated Press poll. The 1960 Cowboys team posted an 8-2 record, and in 1961 UW was 6-1-2 and concluded the year ranked No. 17 in the final United Press International poll.

Devaney’s biggest nonconference wins came at the expense of Oregon State (28-0 in 1958); North Carolina State twice (26-0 in 1959 and 15-14 in 1961); and Texas Tech (10-7). Also, in 1961, Wyoming and Kansas battled to a 6-6 tie.

Following the 1961 season, Devaney was hired by Nebraska at an annual salary of $17,000.

For the next 11 years, Devaney led the Cornhuskers to eight Big Eight Conference titles, a 101-20-2 (.829) record and back-to-back national championships in 1970 and ‘71. His Huskers played in five Orange Bowl games, in addition to a Cotton Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Sun Bowl and Gotham Bowl.

The Devaney era forever changed the face of Cornhuskers’ football.

After the 1972 season, Devaney retired with a 136-30-7 (.806) overall record as a head coach, making him the winningest active coach in the nation at the time he retired.

Devaney was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1981 and into the Wyoming Athletics Hall of Fame in 1995.

In addition to his football coaching duties, Devaney also served as the Nebraska athletics director from 1967 to 1993 and as athletics director emeritus until 1996.

Nebraska unveiled a life-sized bronze statue of Devaney on Friday in the Huskers’ new East Stadium Plaza, which serves as the doorstep to a 52,000-square-foot research facility, 38 new suites, 6,000 new seats and a graphic-rich tribute to Nebraska football tradition inside the historic Gate 20 entrance.

“This is Memorial Stadium’s 90th anniversary season, and we wanted to recognize the man who’s widely considered the one who really built this stadium from the 36,000-seat facility it was when he arrived in Lincoln in 1962,” Nebraska athletics director Shawn Eichorst said. “With the stadium’s anniversary, the dedication of the expanded East Stadium, and the fact that Wyoming and Nebraska were the only two schools that Bob Devaney ever served as head football coach, we thought this was the perfect time to honor his tremendous legacy.”

Here and there

Nebraska has won every opener since 1986, the nation’s longest streak. Each of those wins has come by nine points or more. In 1985, the Huskers dropped a 17-13 decision to No. 17 Florida State in Lincoln.

Wyoming has not won a season-opener on the road against a nonconference opponent since 1966. That year, the Cowboys blanked Air Force 13-0 at the Academy. The Falcons and Cowboys did not become league foes until 1980 when Air Force was invited to join the Western Athletic Conference.

Wyoming and Nebraska are meeting for the seventh time, with the Huskers owning a 6-0 series advantage. The Huskers have outscored the Cowboys 241-83 in those six games (an average of 40.2 points to 13.8 points). UW scored 32 of its 83 total series points in 1994, the year Nebraska went on to win the national championship. Nebraska is among four teams to have won nine or more games in each of the last five seasons. Alabama, Boise State and Oregon are the others.

Two of the nation’s top quarterbacks will be going toe-to-toe tonight when the Huskers host the Cowboys before a sellout crowd in Lincoln. Both Wyoming junior Brett Smith and Nebraska senior Taylor Martinez were selected to the 2013 Manning Award Watch List. Smith has completed 458-of-745 passes for 5,459 yards and 47 TDs, while Martinez is 159-of-263 for 2,238 yards and 17 TDS. Smith has rushed 253 times for 958 yards and 16 TDs, and Martinez 166 times for 1,215 yards and 18 TDs. Smith has compiled 6,444 yards in total offense to Martinez’s 3,890 yards.

Wyoming’s all-time football record is 501-531-28 (48.6 percent), while Nebraska’s all time mark is 856-353-40 (70.1 percent). Nebraska is just one of 10 schools with at least 800 victories. The Huskers are ranked fifth behind Michigan (903), Yale (871), Texas (866) and Notre Dame (865), and ahead of Ohio State (837), Oklahoma (831), Harvard (829), Alabama (827) and Penn (824).

Injury report

Wyoming: Out for the season: RB D.J. May. Questionable: TE J.D. Krill. Nebraska: Out for the season: DT Kevin Williams, TE Jared Blum. Questionable: TE Jake Long, QB Tommy Armstrong.

Bob Hammond is the senior columnist/writer for WyoSports. Contact him at 755-3325 or bhammond@wyosports.net or follow him on Twitter: @BobHammond1, @wyosports.

Cowboys vs. Cornhuskers

Game: Wyoming (0-0, 0-0 MW) at Nebraska (0-0, 0-0 Big 10)

When: 6 p.m. (MDT) today.

Where: Memorial Stadium (87,000+), Lincoln, Neb.

Weather: Mostly sunny, with a high near 96 degrees. A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2 p.m. Saturday night: mostly cloudy with a low around 66 degrees. A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms in the evening, mainly after 8 p.m. South wind around 5 mph, becoming calm. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Memorial Stadium gates open at 5:30 p.m. — at which point forecasts are placing the expected heat index at 103 degrees. The heat index combines air temperature and relative humidity to determine the human-perceived equivalent temperature — what it feels like, as opposed to the actual temperature.

Odds: Nebraska is a 30-point favorite.

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1 comment:

  • Sothern Poke posted at 3:50 pm on Tue, Sep 3, 2013.

    Sothern Poke Posts: 63

    Good article Especially for those of us that wrer there and remember Poke progress

     

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