All year round, former Husker and NFL veteran Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In the "Carriker Chronicles" video series, he breaks down the latest NU news, upcoming opponents, player updates and recruiting information, and he offers his insight into the X's and O's and more.
On Monday's episode, Adam Carriker talks to Husker great Jerry Murtaugh about his role with the Husker Greats Foundation, winning the 1970 national title, his relationship with Coach Bob Devaney, and more.
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Here's a transcript of today's show:
Adam Carriker: Welcome to the Carriker Chronicles, the people's show, where we check the pulse of Husker Nation brought to you by Nebraska Spine Hospital. Today I have with me a very special guest. Now, we gotta put first things first. In high school, he was a 180-pound undefeated state wrestling champion. Then at the University of Nebraska, he was a first team All-American linebacker. He started on that 1970 national championship team. He held several Nebraska records including second most all-time career tackles with 342 career tackles at the University of Nebraska. How you doing, Mr. Jerry Murtaugh?
Jerry Murtaugh: All right, reading all that, I must be really old!
Adam Carriker: Oh no, no, no. My kids call me a dinosaur. So they always try to make me feel old.
Jerry Murtaugh: If you're a dinosaur, I'm totally dead.
Adam Carriker: I think you're doing all right. In fact, let's talk about what you're doing nowadays. All right? So you're the driving force behind the Nebraska Greats Foundation. All right, a non-profit that provides financial assistance to former Nebraska collegiate athletes who as a result of medical challenge have exhausted both their insurance and personal resources. The Nebraska Greats Foundation assists all 15 colleges in Nebraska. So I gotta ask, tell us about the Nebraska Greats Foundation. Anything else you want us to know? And what prompted you to start the Nebraska Greats Foundation?
Jerry Murtaugh: We have the great Andra Franklin. He's the inspiration; he is the backbone to all this. Now people, if they don't remember Andra, he was a great fullback, All-Pro for the Miami Dolphins out of Nebraska. Back in 2004 I had an event in Omaha, Nebraska in late November, early December. Snow, ice, sleet just like it's been around here. So I had an event, I brought back about 50 former Huskers from the 50's all the way up. I found Andra in Lincoln, and I asked him would you attend the event. And I watched this young man play ball, and he is a tough, tremendous football player, and I wanted to meet him. So that night, I'm at the event here in Omaha, going around shaking hands. Then, I see this young man sitting in a chair, perspiring profusely and shaking, and I'm going "Wow, I wonder who this." So I go up, and I introduced myself. And this young man stands up and said, "I'm Andra Franklin." I go "Wow, Andra, what a pleasure." Then, I said "Well, what's wrong Andra? You're shaking, you're sweating?" He says, "Well, Murt, I've been sick lately. But hitchhiking from Lincoln to Omaha tonight didn't help me."
Adam Carriker: Wow.
Jerry Murtaugh: Hitchhiking in this kind of weather.
Adam Carriker: Jeez.
Jerry Murtaugh: He still has my hand. He’s still looking at me. I asked him, I said, "Andra, why would you do that?" He pulled me really close, looked into my eyes. He said "Because I gave my word to a Husker."
Adam Carriker: Wow.
Jerry Murtaugh: I just, I couldn't believe it. I'm just thinking to myself that I didn't hear that right. And I asked him again, he looked at me again. "I gave my word. I told you I'd be here. I'm here." And I said "How you getting home Andra?" Hitchhiking. No, no, no, no. So I get him home and I forget about him. I knew he was sick. I didn't follow up. Two years later he passes away in Lincoln by himself. He had some heart problems, but I wasn't there. My parents raised me better than that. I used this young man, I didn't follow up. I didn't ask if I could help, nothing. So that has been on my mind forever. Seven years ago I got a call from a guy in California. They asked me how Dave Humm is doing, and I go "Well, I guess he's okay." He says "Well, he's not. He's fighting MS. He has medical problems. He can't pay his premiums, and his 24-karat he had to give away." And I'm going "What?" So, he asked me to help. That's when I looked up and thought: "Andra, you're giving me another shot at this." So that's when it started seven years ago. That's when we created the Nebraska Greats Foundation. That's when I had help setting up the 501c3 and everything like that. So that's where it started with the great Dave Humm, and since then for the past seven years, we've helped 16 former athletes in the state of Nebraska, men and women in all sports. If they lettered in a sport, they have medical or emergency needs, you get a hold of us. As I have said, we have 16 recipients that we have helped. Just this past week, I had three applications from three former athletes, female athletes wanting help. Concordia College, Nebraska and Hastings College. So the words getting out there, we’re helping, and we're the only 501c3 like this in the country. Because why? Because this is Nebraska, and we take care of our home. Is that enough for you there big man?
Adam Carriker: No, that's good stuff. It's interesting how events in our life can inspire things that you do in the future like that. So it’s cool that you're able to help these other people. I know you have an event coming up. It's going to be early on in March. Do you want to tell the fine folks about this event and all the information surrounding that?
Jerry Murtaugh: Well, the event is next week, February 28. We're having it out at the convention center out there in La Vista. You don't have much time to order your tickets or table, so just go to negreats.org. We're gonna have great athletes. Danny Woodhead is coming in, Zach Miller, the Heisman winners, Tom Kropp from Kearney. It's going to be a great event. All 15 colleges and universities in the state of Nebraska will be there being represented. This foundation is for every former athlete in the state of Nebraska. It's going to be a great event, and I hope you have time to attend. I'm giving you that invitation there big man.
Adam Carriker: I appreciate that, and I also know that Bill Moos is going to be there, Trev Alberts, like all the AD's from the state are going to be there. Matt Davidson is going to be there. I'm not sure Frost is going to be there, but ladies and gentlemen, there's going to be a lot of people there. If you can attend and support this great cause, I would highly, highly recommend doing so. Now, you played a little bit in Nebraska, so let's chat about your playing days just a smidge. All right, so you were, you know, for the longest time you held the all-time tackle record. And I gotta ask, how'd you feel, you know, the day that Barrett Ruud took it over? The only reason I ask is that they play more games now than they used to. I also got to ask about the 1970 national championship season. So those are the two questions I want to lead off with about your career.
Jerry Murtaugh: Well, when I broke Wayne Mainland's record, they had fewer games than us. Then when Barrett broke mine, they had more games than us. So I mean, that's just the way it is. Your records are made to be broken, and it couldn't have been broken by a greater linebacker, Barrett Ruud, one of the greatest down in Nebraska. So that I could care less about records. The only reason I had that record was the five guys ahead of me. Five: the two d-ends, two d-tackles and our middle guard. The best five defensive players in the nation that year so that's, you know, that's part of football. Coach Devaney. Now, I think I still have the all-time record for being thrown in jail down at Nebraska. Every year, I got in a little bit of trouble, and I'd get thrown in jail for fighting. Coach Devaney did get me out, and then he'd rip me every year, and it's kind of like the same thing every year. He called me filthy names, said I'm going to get rid of you. And he never did because he needed the help to win that national championship. But we have never seen eye-to-eye. I mean, I've heard everybody say "Coach Devaney, you were a great football coach." But everybody liked him, and I think I'm the only person in the country that never liked coach Devaney, and he didn't like me. We didn't make bones about it, but he let me play for him, so life is great.
Adam Carriker: So what was your relationship? Obviously, you know you guys aren't the best of friends. What was it like playing for a guy, when that's how the relationship was, and also what was it like winning that 1970 national championship?
Jerry Murtaugh: Playing for Coach Devaney, like I said we never talked other than when we get into a back room, and he yelled at me for everything I've done. That was just normal, so I didn’t, Yelling at me, it didn't bother me. Then beginning of that 1970 season, I was co-captain, up for All-American and all this, and a sports reporter asked me the question, "How you gonna do this year?" And I said, "We're going to win it all." One of the players came over, pulled me away from the mic. Devaney got me and said, "What are you doing?" I said, "I just told her what I thought." He said "You put a target on our back now young man." I didn't get it, and I didn't care. I said, we have one of the greatest football teams. You know, we all play together from '68 or '69 to blossom with all the young players, and '70 came I'm going, "I can't see anybody beating us." Southern Cal tied us because the offense had six turnovers, and that, you know, they were rated I think third in the nation. We go there, and just, we really manhandled them. I blame the offense, I never did like them. You know that. You don’t like offensive people.
Adam Carriker: Yeah, we’re on the same page. I’m with you.
Jerry Murtaugh: Yep, yep, so it just all fell in, and then we're at the Orange Bowl playing LSU. And I think they were rated fifth. We’re rated third. And then, the number-one rated team, I think Texas, got beat that afternoon and some of the second-rated team got beat. And then, we slapped LSU around, and then we’re national champs! So I did mention it after the game. Devaney come up, the one time he talked to me. He says, "You know, you did well." And I go, "What’d I tell you? What did I tell you?" He turns around and walks away.
Adam Carriker: You did well.
Jerry Murtaugh: We did well. So I go, “Okay, I can take that.” So it was it was a great ride, great ride.
Adam Carriker: So here's something I've always wanted to talk about on the show cause I don't think I've ever heard it brought up. At least, you know, it's been awhile so maybe it was just before my time. So you guys shared the title with Texas that year. They got half; you got half. But you talked about it. All right, so the final AP poll was Nebraska No. 1, Orange Bowl champs. Notre Dame No. 2, Cotton Bowl champs. Texas No. 3, who lost the Cotton Bowl. Now, the coaches poll which came out before the bowl games, cause that makes sense, was No. 1 Texas, who lost the Cotton Bowl. No. 2 Ohio State, who lost the Rose Bowl, and then No. 3 Nebraska. So, have you ever felt like it's a load of crap that you guys had to share the title with Texas when they lost and just cause the poll came out before the bowl games? Because I feel that way.
Jerry Murtaugh: Well, of course! I mean, what are you thinking? Before all the bowl games were over, we just proved that. They got beat. We had a tie. They had a loss. Who goes first? Why did they give it to us both? They had a loss, period. That should've been it. And we know, Nebraska knows, the players know, we could beat anybody in the country, and we proved it.
Adam Carriker: So, I'm curious, what was Tom Osborne like in the early 70's, late 60's. He was the offensive coordinator, and Boyd Epley. You were there for the start of Husker Power. What was Tom Osborne and Boyd Epley like at the start of Husker Power back when you were playing?
Jerry Murtaugh: Well, now you have to remember coach Osborne was pretty new. He was the receivers coach. We had nothing to do with him or the offense. You know once in a while you'll say hi on the field, you walk by. Or, I heard people had to go to class, and I didn't know we had to. And I finally figured it out, and I would see Osborne once in a while. So, I didn't have much to do with coach, didn't know him very well at all. So that was it with coach, and you know, now he's done great things for the university and everything, so I gotta speak highly for the man, he's done well for himself.
Adam Carriker: What about Boyd Epley and start of Husker Power?
Jerry Murtaugh: Okay, Boyd and I, we started together in the little room in the back. Now he just transferred from junior college in Arizona, started lifting weights. He was in the front seat doing shows and things like that. And I go into this little weight room, and Boyd was in there. And he'd be lifting, and I asked him if he could help me. Because he was... you're going, "Woah. This man was built." He looked the part, and he was, but he got me started. Then I told a few other guys and they would come in little by little. Boyd would get the word out there that "I'll help you, I'll help him map it out." It all started with Boyd. And he was weighing 185 pounds a week before he did the show. He was doing a little bench, and he was showing off to me. He said he had 405 pounds on, and he did two reps with 405, weighing 185 pounds. I spotted him, and I go, "Okie-dokie." So I go that's where it all started with old Boyd. He was something else, and he's still something else. The guru of strength conditioning everywhere and a good friend, very good friend.
Adam Carriker: It's interesting, cause we're actually kind of connected by Boyd in kind of an unusual way. You were there when he first started, and his last year there — I know he's back in a different capacity now — but his last year there as the official strength & conditioning coach when I was there, so we're kind of connected in that way. It's funny you talk about offensive guys not talking to defensive guys, and vice versa, as far as the coaches and the players. I'll never forget my rookie year in St. Louis. My defensive line coach is talking about some guy. I have no idea who's talking about. He goes, "Do you know who I'm talking about?" I go, “No.” He's talking about our quarterbacks coach. I go, "Oh, okay, that's great." He goes, "What's our running backs coach name?" He was standing 10 yards from us. I go, “I don't know.” What about that guy? Who was that guy? Who's the offensive line coach, what's his name? I don't know. He coaches the fat guys that won't get out of my way. So you know, it's funny that that’s how people look at each other.
Jerry Murtaugh: I agree. Yeah, who cares. They’re on a different side of the ball. So I agree with you. It was a lot of fun, wasn't it there young man?
Adam Carriker: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Now I want to finish with two questions. Number one, when are you going to start doing some narration or voiceover or some commercials, cause you got a great voice. Number two, why don't you tell the fine folks at home about the Legends Radio Show that you do every Saturday morning.
Jerry Murtaugh: Well, I do do a little voice over, just because I get carried away and you have to do 30-45 second commercials, and I kind of ramble on and on. And my radio show, I've done it over 11 years, is called the Legends Radio Show. Every Saturday morning 9 a.m. on AM 590 ESPN. All we do on my show, I'll get two, three guests, and we just reminisce about their playing days. Just like you and I, just good stories. We laugh, just reminisce. So it's been a great 11 years, and I hope I can get a few more in before it all ends. So people always ask me "How you doing? How's your health?" I said, "I woke up this morning. I beat the odds. I probably upset a lot of people that I'm still alive, and that makes me happier." That’s just the way I am.
Adam Carriker: I wish we would have played together. I do. I wish we would have played together.
Jerry Murtaugh: Yep, yep, we would have had a good time. Drink beer, you know, things like that and play football and drink beer.
Adam Carriker: So I'm not gonna lie, because the bones, I'm looking forward to the very end of the show. Because the guests at the end of this show always get to say throw the bones, even if they're offensive guys, you know, I allow them to do it. I know, I shouldn't. But I do, coaches, whoever comes on. So I know a lot of guys that were Blackshirts and great Blackshirts that didn't throw the bones cause that really started in the mid 90s. So I'm looking forward to this part. This is one of my favorite parts of the show I've been looking forward to all year or all show folks. Alright, so until next time Husker Nation. Go big red nose. Remember.
Jerry Murtaugh: See, I forgot.
Adam Carriker: So full disclosure, full disclosure, we'll leave this in the interview. It's cool, it's cool. It's behind the scenes stuff. Whenever I have a guest on I always ask them beforehand if they want to throw the bones, say throw the bones at the end. I asked Jerry, and he said, "I'm probably gonna forget." I said, "Well, we'll just see what happens." Let's try it again.
Jerry Murtaugh: We’ll throw the bones till next time, all right.
Adam Carriker: You just say throw the bones, you ready to try it again?
Jerry Murtaugh: You bet.
Adam Carriker: Here we go. Until next time Husky nation. Go Big Red and always remember.
Jerry Murtaugh: Throw the bones!
Adam Carriker: That was great.
Thanks again to the Nebraska Spine Hospital. Ladies and gentlemen, when it’s your spine, you do not want to mess around. Experience matters. That’s why you can trust the experts at Nebraska Spine Hospital, the region's only spine specific hospital. They are the best at what they do.
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