Column: Huskers need supervision from coaches
Jan. 16, 1998
The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.
Any coach that guides his team to 25 bowl appearances in 25 seasons is a football mastermind. Tom Osborne, taking the Husker reins from legendary coach Bob Devaney, has outperformed his college football counterparts in almost every facet of coaching, including player arrests.
A look below the surface reveals that Osborne is as slick as the sidewalks on the way to class. The obvious example is Lawrence Phillips. In 1995, Phillips was arrested for dragging his girlfriend by her hair down the stairs. This is no lover's quarrel" this is a brawl.
Osborne indefinitely suspended Philips, which was the correct thing to do. Dr. Tom, the "class" act that he is, or was, said he was going to give Phillips some time to sort out his problems before he returned to the team.
You mean you're going to let him play again, Dr. Class?
Six weeks later, Phillips was allowed to don the Husker jersey against football powerhouse Iowa State and, wouldn't you know it, just in time to finish the season and head to the Fiesta Bowl, much to the dismay of civilized football fans everywhere.
Osborne said he was trying to help the bewildered running back. Obviously he didn't help enough. The St. Louis Rams cut Phillips last season after frequent problems with the coaching staff.
The celebrated Phillips case isn't an isolated incident. Here are some other notable examples: Tyrone Williams was arrested for firing a gun at a car. Riley Washington was arrested for attempted murder in a failed convenience store heist.
Neither were kicked off the team.
The list goes on and on. Don¹"t even get me started on Christian Peter.
What kind of players did Dr. Tom recruit to play at Nebraska? According to an Omaha World-Herald study, Huskers are more than twice as likely to commit a crime than other male students.
I suppose some restlessness is expected with football players. After all, these men are brought up to seek and destroy everything on the football field. Some of these players, who haven't quite grasped the concept of maturity, take their aggressive behaviors off the gridiron and onto the streets.
Football coaches should not have to be baby sitters, but unfortunately it's in the job description with modern athletes. Football coaches should, however, assume the role of parents while these boys have their glory days in college.
A coach should say, "What you did was wrong, and you will be punished for it."
Osborne should not have said, "What you did was wrong, but I'll let you come back and play anyway." Osborne should have asked himself, "Is Lawrence Phillips how I want to be remembered? Is Phillips the kind of man I want to be associated with?"
If the answer is no, then Osborne should not have allowed Phillips to don the Husker jersey against Iowa State - and certainly not against Florida in the Fiesta Bowl.