Tom Osborne - that name is about as synonymous as any with a university in the country. He was the head football coach at Nebraska for 25 years and has been the Athletic Director at Nebraska for the past 5 years, but today his active roll in Husker athletics has come to an end as he announced his retirement, effective January 1st, 2013.
"At some point, whether you're able to function or not, the perception that you are getting old can get in the way," said Osborne at the press conference announcing his retirement.
"It has been a pleasure and an honor to work in the Athletic Department for the past five years," said Osborne in a statement released by the department. "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 they trajectory of the athletic department is very good."
He does plan to stick around for about six months or so to assist in the transition and help in recruiting as well and will take on the role of Athletics Director Emeritus moving forward.
Osborne wanted to make sure there was plenty of time for the University Chancellor to make his choice for new athletic director and according to Perlman he was given notice of this decision two months ago.
According to Osborne health was not an issue and not a reason to make this decision.
"I probably feel better now than when I was in congress," quipped Osborne, having a little bit of fun with the situation.
Tom's legacy as an athletic director nearly equals what he accomplished on the field of play as he's been so influential in the direction of the program over the past five years, it's something University of Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman mentioned in his statement about Osborne at the press conference.
"It's been a real privilege to work with Tom over the past five years," said Perlman. "He's done a lot for this university and the athletic department. The move to the Big Ten could not have happened without Tom's support."
"He has made 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."
Perhaps one of the biggest things Osborne will leave behind in his legacy is the fact that he was able to step in 5 years ago and unify a fan base that was becoming fractured.
"(I) would like to thank the fans, what we've accomplished here can't be done without a dedicated and unified fan base."
Also speaking on his legacy, Perlman acknowledged that the fans and university may not realize just how lucky they've had it with Osborne and his respected status nationally.
"I think we probably don't recognize in Nebraska just how respected he is nationally. We should respect his nearly 40 years at Nebraska and respect the reasons for making this decision."
As for the search for a new AD?
Chancellor Perlman does not intend to hold an open and public search for hiring the new Athletic Director. That search is already underway with the help of a search consultant. That consultant hired that newest AD at Michigan as well as helping in the hiring in the new Big 12 commissioner this past summer.
According to Perlman about 12-15 individuals have been asked to be part of the decision making process from across the spectrum from former players, current athletes and coaches. Interviews have already begun and more could be coming, but they will be taking their time to get the right person in place.
Chancellor Perlman has wisely learned his lesson from the 2007 fiasco that led to having to reach out to Osborne to begin with.
We'll have much more on Osborne's legacy and his meaning to the program later today.