LINCOLN — Milt Tenopir wasn’t surprised Thursday that his phone kept ringing as former Nebraska offensive linemen learned of Dan Young’s death.
It would have been hard, Tenopir said, for his old friend and colleague on the Husker football staff to be more popular with his players.
“Dan was a unique guy in that there wasn’t anybody that didn’t like him,” Tenopir said. “His players absolutely loved him. And he and I never locked horns at any time. We just had a great relationship.”
Young, diagnosed in mid-July with a cancerous brain tumor, died late Wednesday night. He was 69.
Tenopir said he visited Young on Monday and Wednesday. Tom Osborne, the NU athletic director and former coach, got to see him Sunday.
The trio were together for many of the glory years of Husker football.
“I always felt bad that people didn’t consider us as joint line coaches as much as they should have,” Tenopir said. “But Dan was tremendously instrumental with all the success we had. Dan wasn’t one to look for accolades.”
As co-line coach, Young oversaw the Huskers’ pass protections until retiring after the 2002 season. He also handled kickers, punters and special teams, and oversaw in-state recruiting.
“He was just a common-sense guy,” Tenopir said. “He worked awfully hard for the players and program. There was nothing phony about him. Just a good ol’ guy.”
Young capped a six-year run as coach at Omaha Westside by winning back-to-back Class A state championships in 1981 and ’82. The native of Primrose, Neb., started his NU career as coach of the Huskers’ freshman team for three seasons.
Young moved up to join Tenopir working with the NU offensive line — soon to become known nationwide as the “Pipeline” — after Cletus Fischer retired after the 1985 season.
Fittingly, they retired together in January 2003.
“I will miss the players and the competitive nature of being a coach,” Young said at an NU press conference. “But I won’t miss the long hours.”
It was often routine for Young’s players at NU and Westside to try and imitate his slow and deliberate style of speaking. Jeff Young said his dad never seemed to care.
“I think he just liked being around young people a lot and working with them, and being a teacher first he had that teacher mentality,” Jeff Young said. “He just got along good with kids.”
Tenopir said Dan Young loved to fish and golf, saying, “He’d play golf every day if he could.”
After leaving NU, he worked as a rep for two different companies that installed synthetic turf fields.
Young went through chemotherapy and radiation, and doctors thought they had the tumor in remission. Young attended a pair of Husker home games last month but it was recently found that the tumor had started growing again.
Young is survived by children Jeff and Kris, five grandchildren and fiancée Cathy Grotbeck. Funeral services are set for 10 a.m. Monday at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Lincoln, and a visitation will be from noon to 8 p.m. Sunday at Lincoln Memorial Funeral Home.
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