The University of Nebraska football team first took the field as the Cornhuskers in 1900. Nebraska went undefeated in 1902 and 1903 and then again in 1915.
The first bowl game, a loss in the 1941 Rose Bowl, was not the hoped-for steppingstone to inclusion among the nation’s elite programs. Gridiron success proved elusive for the next two decades.
Then in 1962, new head coach Bob Devaney started one of the greatest runs of consistent excellence in college football history. His 11 teams all had winning seasons, winning eight Big Eight Conference titles, and twice topping the national polls.
But perhaps Devaney’s greatest contribution to Nebraska football was hiring an unpaid offensive assistant in 1964. Tom Osborne later became the offensive coordinator and then the head coach in 1973. Over the next 25 seasons, the Huskers won at least nine games every season and were the dominant team of the '90s, winning three national titles in four years.
Devaney clearly knew how to find talent. As athletic director he hired the university’s second women’s volleyball coach, Terry Pettit, in 1977. Pettit’s 23 seasons yielded 21 conference championships and a national championship, and packed houses became the norm at the Coliseum.
Pettit’s handpicked successor raised expectations and standards even higher. In 1999, John Cook served as Pettit’s associate head coach before taking over the next year. Cook’s teams have won four national championships and have sold out every match since the team moved to the Bob Devaney Sports Center in 2013, where they play on Terry Pettit Court.
Nebraska has won 28 national titles in school history, in a total of five sports. Nebraska leads the nation with 333 Academic All-American awards earned by student-athletes, and the new Husker Scholars Program, enabled by $5 million in annual scholarship support from Nebraska Athletics for non-student-athletes, is providing support to 3,068 UNL students.