By Randy York
Perhaps you remember the lines at Husker Nation Pavilion last year when Nebraska celebrated the 40th anniversary of its first national football championship team. Interest was high and lines were long, but Saturday promises an even bigger turnout for the 40th anniversary of the 1971 Husker team that won the Game of the Century and is still considered by many to be the greatest college football team of all time.
More than 50 members of that historic team will be available from noon to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, and if you don’t have something you want signed, don’t worry, be happy. Nebraska Athletics will hand out free commemorative 1971 national championship posters, so all you need to bring is a smile and some patience. Larry Jacobson, Nebraska’s first Outland Trophy winner, will be there, so you’ll definitely want his autograph. He is, after all, one of few Americans honored twice on the same day at the White House. Here’s what happened. Jake flew to Washington D.C. with a small group of Huskers to be honored by President Richard Nixon because Nixon had flown to Lincoln the year before to honor the 1970 national championship team.
“We flew to D.C. the same day the NFL draft began in New York,” Jacobson recalls. “Before we got to the White House, Jerry Tagge found out he’d been drafted in the first round (by Green Bay). Then, right after we left Nixon’s office, Jeff Kinney and I found out we’d been drafted in the first round, too. (Kansas City selected Kinney, and the New York Giants drafted Jacobson). So before heading back to Lincoln, they took us to the White House Press Room for a press conference. It was quite a day.”
By the way, in that same ’72 draft, Carl Johnson went in the fifth round to New Orleans, Van Brownson in the eighth round to Baltimore and Keith Wortman in the Round 10 to Green Bay. The next year, 10 more members of that ’71 team were drafted, including one first-rounder (Johnny Rodgers), two second-rounders (Willie Harper and Monte Johnson) and two third-rounder (Bill Olds and Rich Glover). John Dutton was a first-rounder the next year, and six of his teammates were drafted. Obviously, there was talent galore on the ‘71 team. No wonder they rank so high on everyone’s all-time greatest chart.
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