A Husker legend to the nth degree, ‘T.O.’ still makes time for the fans
By Reggie Johansen
If you’re a Nebraska football fan, the years 1973-1997 are remembered as the epitome of Husker football. It brings to memory some of Nebraska’s finest athletes such as Johnny “the Jet” Rodgers, Dean Steinkuhler, Mike Rozier and Tommy Frazier. But the name that stands out more than all of them is head coach Tom Osborne, the man who recruited and coached all those Husker greats. Osborne is known in the hearts of Nebraska fans across the world, especially to one Nebraska fan, my grandpa, Ben Bachman.
My grandpa started getting season tickets in 1964. Ever since then he has attended every game possible, including the National Championship games in the mid 90’s. However, in the last few years he hasn’t been able to go to Lincoln due to a battle with pancreatic cancer, and it was recently discovered that he has cancer in his lungs and liver also. But he makes sure to still watch every game from home, and cheers and tries to let the team know what they’re doing wrong, even though they can’t hear him.
My uncle, Greg Bachman, is also an avid Husker fan. And it just so happened that he knew a guy that knew a guy, no pun intended, that was an acquaintance of Coach Osborne. So he asked a favor of a sit down meeting with the legendary coach, just for fun. To my uncle’s surprise, he received a phone call from Osborne just a few days later.
“Dr. Tom” said that he’d enjoy meeting my grandfather and his family, so in October, my two brothers, Aaron and Cody Johansen, cousin, Eli Bachman, uncles Greg and Stan Bachman, and my grandpa headed to Lincoln.
(The group met at Osborne’s TeamMates Mentoring Program office at 68th and ‘O’ Streets.)
When the meeting started, my brothers, cousin and I waited outside while my uncles and grandpa went in to meet him. About 10 minutes later, we were invited in. Right away you could see that Osborne was a very sincere and knowledgeable guy. He learned we were a farming family and, to my surprise, he was very well-versed in agriculture, and actually even dabbled in corn and soybean market stocks. Then he asked me about Sacred Heart football. I told him of our success over the years, the 87-game winning streak, the state titles, and this year’s success.
“I think I better call the NCAA and have them investigate you guys down there!,” he said, chuckling.
The meeting lasted about an hour, and it was 60 minutes my grandpa will never forget.
“It was really just an exciting experience. He was a great guy to sit down and talk to and was very knowledgeable and open to talk about anything we wanted to talk about, including Husker football,” my grandpa said.
“It was fun to listen to him talk about the ‘95 football team. It really was just an amazing deal.”
My grandpa is a very special man to me; he’s been kind of my stand-in dad since my father (Larry, aka “Reggie”) passed away when I was just 10 months old. I will remember it until the day I die.
This article first appeared in the Fall 2015 edition of the FCSH School magazine, “The Spotlight.”