CHICAGO — Former Nebraska coach and Athletic Director Tom Osborne was honored at the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon on Friday afternoon.

In a short panel in front of 155 tables in a large ballroom, Osborne and Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez were interviewed for about five minutes by ESPN’s Rece Davis.

Davis asked Osborne why he thought football resonated so well in Nebraska. Osborne, 82, said he thought the state still holds a “frontier” mentality with an appreciation for hard work, which reflects the football program.

“Football fits well with the imagination and character of the United States,” Osborne said.

Alvarez, Wisconsin’s coach from 1990-95, gave Osborne kudos for how he ran his program, saying only a handful of teams in the 1990s could even stay on the same field as the Huskers.

When asked about the current state of the program, Osborne backed coach Scott Frost.

“I have a lot of confidence in Scott Frost,” Osborne said, adding that Frost understands the unique culture of Nebraska.

On Thursday, Frost told a group of reporters he’s trying to run the program “as close as possible” to the way Osborne did from 1973-97.

“I think it might not be built overnight, but it’ll be a steady program,” Osborne said. “And of course, we have a good quarterback. That’s a nice place to start.”

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Chris Heady covers Husker football and is the Nebraska men's basketball beat writer. He started at The World-Herald in 2017. Follow him on Twitter @heady_chris. Email:

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