By Randy York
As Nebraska’s Hall-of-Fame head football coach prepares to rendezvous with players, coaches and athletic staffers celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Huskers’ 1994 national championship team, Tom Osborne had a quip, a quote and an anecdote when I asked him to take us back into his time tunnel before Nebraska hosts Miami Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.
The Quip: “Time has gone really fast. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long ago,” Osborne told me. “I’m looking forward to seeing everybody. I just hope I’m able to recognize them and they’re able to recognize me.”
The Quote: “That ’94 team went through an awful lot of adversity and did it with such commitment, resolve, and work ethic. They weren’t going to let anything slow them down. They were going to prevail no matter what,” Osborne said. “Their attitude, determination and their sheer will to win might have made them the most remarkable team I’ve ever been around.”
The Anecdote: “I’m not saying I knew what was going to happen in the second half of that Orange Bowl. I don’t have perfect vision. But when certain things happen, I just thought there were enough conversations going on, I needed to remind our players that flagrant fouls are usually preceded by some kind of back-and-forth trash talk that leads to a penalty. At some point, I could see something was going to go outside the rules.”
Will Rudd honors College Hall of Fame quarterback Tommie Frazier.
Prophetic Osborne Unleashes Frazier, Schlesinger
Osborne proved prophetic. The Hurricanes lost their cool and the Huskers found their offense, launching Tommie Frazier and Corey Schlesinger like rockets into a shell-shocked defense loaded with NFL talent.
The ’94 team may not match the ability of Osborne’s national championship teams in ’95 and ’97, but it had heart, chemistry, togetherness, a selfless attitude, and even a third-team walk-on quarterback, Matt Turman, who filled in for the late Brook Berringer to enable the Huskers’ great escape at K-State. At one point, Berringer started seven straight games in 1994 and kept the Huskers’ record unblemished.
Frazier got healthy enough to start the Orange Bowl, only to see Berringer relieve him and throw a touchdown pass before Touchdown Tommie answered the last bell. Last December, when Frazier was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, he could feel Berringer’s guidance and sense his selflessness.
Brook Berringer was a vital part of NU’s 1994 national championship team.
Frazier: Berringer Was a Role Model for Everyone
“Brook wasn’t just a role model for me. He was a role model for everyone in the whole state of Nebraska and throughout Husker Nation,” Frazier told me. “I think about how tough it would be to handle the situation he was in and still walk into the stadium every day willing to do whatever he could to help us win a national championship. He was the same person every day and a true man in every sense of the word. People don’t understand what he contributed in that national championship game. I started and didn’t do very well. He came in and kept the game close. I ended up getting the MVP Award, but he was a big part of what I did. Without Brook, we don’t beat Miami.”
Jan Berringer, Brook’s mom, is at Memorial Stadium today to help honor her son for making this 20-year anniversary celebration possible. Brook may not have been the Most Valuable Player in the ‘94 national championship game, but he was positively, undeniably a VVP – a Very Valuable Player that makes this reunion a reality in a rivalry renewal that should be treasured and valued because of its own special place in Tom Osborne’s heart.
Thanks, Brook, for the inconceivable influence you still have on a program that absolutely will never, ever forget you.
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