Kirk Herbstreit

There's a lot of things Kirk Herbstreit appreciates about Husker football. But his most cherished memory was an afternoon spent with Tom Osborne.

LINCOLN — Kirk Herbstreit’s best memory of Nebraska football happened on a sideline in Oklahoma.

He was at the NU-OU game — presumably the 2000 edition — as part of ESPN’s "College GameDay" crew, standing just outside the Husker team box. So was Nebraska’s recently retired coach, Tom Osborne.

For the full length of three hours, Osborne and Herbstreit stood together, breaking down the game on the fly.

“Having him say what he’d normally say into a headset — but he’d say it just to me,” Herbstreit said Friday outside Memorial Stadium, where he’ll call Saturday night's Nebraska-Ohio State game. “Every observation that he had, or every thought that he had about the game, he was saying to me. I was standing there as a sounding board, talking back to him. I just was always blown away with his grace and how he handled himself. Just being around him was one of my greatest memories.”

Herbstreit then rattled off his other cherished aspects of NU. The stadium and its size. The crowd. The pregame meal at Misty’s that ESPN talent enjoyed Thursday night.

It’s been years since he called a game in Lincoln as Nebraska cycled through a series of coaches who couldn’t deliver the success Osborne did. The Huskers’ second-year coach, Scott Frost, “is the right guy to bring that back,” Herbstreit said.

“He’s just no-nonsense, and I think players respond to that,” Herbstreit said. “I think they appreciate a coach who’s been there and done it, a coach who runs sprints. I think he has a way of really being able to relate to the players, and I think he’s very direct in the way he communicates. You pretty much know ‘here’s the bar, if you get to the bar, you’re good, if you don’t, get back to work.’”

Frost and Nebraska have their hands full with the No. 5 Buckeyes, a “motivated” and “athletic” team eager to prove it can win big without Urban Meyer, the recently-retired Buckeye coach, and Dwayne Haskins, the record-setting quarterback who left for the NFL after one season as a starter.

“People were sleeping on Ohio State when the season started,” Herbstreit said. “Some people, I wasn’t.”

NU’s best chance at victory, Herbstreit said, lies with its quarterback, Adrian Martinez.

“His ability to make plays, to create off-schedule plays, will be big,” Herbstreit said.

"GameDay" host Rece Davis said beating Ohio State would represent a “milestone, landmark win” for Nebraska, but NU fans shouldn’t expect a “quick fix” from Frost, who had a lot to fix when he arrived. The same was true of Frost’s turnaround work at Central Florida, but such a reclamation project is “a little bit harder to do” in the Big Ten.

“He’ll win in the long haul,” said Davis, who has previously been to Nebraska to call basketball games, but has not seen a Husker football game. “I really believe that.”

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