By Randy York
Congratulations, Nebraska football players and coaches over the last 25 years. In a nationwide ESPN vote sponsored by EA Sports, Nebraska Tuesday was declared the Ultimate Team in NCAA Football from 1988-2012. The Huskers edged Florida State in the championship game of a 16-team mythical playoff. After a one-week process, Nebraska beat the Seminoles by a razor-sharp margin, 122,200 online votes to 121,100, 51 percent to 49 percent, in the championship match-up.
“It was close right up to the end,” said Kelly Mosier, director of web operations for Huskers.com. “We were behind most of the day, but Husker fans came out and supported Nebraska when votes were needed most. It was definitely a come-from-behind win and proved once again that our fans are very, very well engaged.”
The final week of voting took the overall count beyond 643,000, even though Nebraska was declared the winner when time ran out for the Seminoles. “The vote shows that we still have a very strong brand nationally,” said Michael Stephens, Nebraska’s assistant athletic director for marketing and licensing. “I think the vote also shows that our fans appreciate the blood, sweat and tears our coaches and players have put into the program over the past 25 years.”
Congratulations, Tommie Frazier, the captain of Nebraska’s online ultimate team. Cheers also to the other five Husker offensive players on this ultimate team – Eric Crouch, Mike Rozier, Ahman Green, Joel Makovicka and Rex Burkhead, plus all the great offensive linemen who blocked for those superstars. Congrats also to the five defensive players on this silver anniversary ultimate team – Trev Alberts, Grant Wistrom, Mike Brown, Kyle Vanden Bosch, and, of course, the ultimate … Ndamukong Suhhhhhhhhhhhh!
Jamie Williams, Nebraska’s associate AD for diversity and leadership initiatives, was in his fifth year of the National Football League when the first year of Husker players were competing for honors in this 25-year time capsule. But since he has a Doctorate of Education in organization and leadership, and an emphasis in sports administration, I asked Williams to describe what an award like this means.
“When you consider the top college football programs in terms of wins, losses and championships, the results over time are cyclical,” Williams told me. “However, if you correlate wins, losses and championships with overall tradition, brand and core competence, Nebraska is the best and built to last, and the nationwide vote illustrates that revelation.
“Many factors go into each school’s yearly challenge to be the best football team in the country, but when the vote covers a full quarter century, Nebraska rises to the top, not only for 25 years but for 50,” Williams said. “Over the last half century, we have the best winning percentage in college football at 79 percent, and we’ve sold out our stadium for 50 straight years because of that. Our winning percentage and fight for championships are stable, much like Nebraska’s economy and its standard of living. We have stood the test of time and in the end, there is no place like Nebraska.”
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