JANUARY 13, 2021 - At the Hilton Omaha Hotel - 1001 Cass St, OMAHA, NEBRASKA
1st recipient Milt Tenopir
2nd recipient Jim Ridlon
6th recipient Fisher DeBerry
•Candidate predominately played, coached and/ or made extraordinary contributions to the interior line of college football; and/or made contributions to the Outland Trophy.
•Candidate exhibited the characteristics of integrity, sportsmanship and fair play associated with Tom Osborne.
•Candidate continues to demonstrate a record of leadership in the community and continues to hold a record of good citizenship within and beyond the athletic field that is consistent with one of the award sponsors, Rotary Club of Omaha’s primary motto, “Service Above Self”.
Tom Osborne Legacy Award is established to recognize an individual who is a:
“Winner On and Off the Field”.
While winning 255 games from 1973-1997, 13 conference championships and three national titles as the head man, Coach Osborne was equally concerned about his players’ development and life after the game. His teams produced more Academic All-Americans than any other in college football during his era. He emphasized the full development of his players’ lives – academic success, character development, a good spiritual foundation and involvement in the community.
Few if any coaches have impacted college football more than Tom Osborne when it comes to producing great linemen. His legacy of building a strong foundation in the trenches, whether it was on offense or defense, endures to this day.
Coach Osborne has been involved with the most Outland Trophy Winners in the 69- year history of the award. Starting with Larry Jacobson in 1971, Coach Osborne has been associated with all of Nebraska’s eight different Outland Winners, either as an assistant, head coach or athletic director. During Coach Osborne’s head coaching tenure, Nebraska’s ability to produce great linemen was unparalleled in major-college football. In only six of Tom Osborne’s 25 seasons as head coach did the Huskers fail to produce an All-American on the offensive line. His teams generated at least one first-team, all-conference offensive lineman every season.
Tom Osborne not only has enjoyed success as a player, coach and athletic director, but he also has made a positive impact during six years of service in the United States’ Congress and with the founding of Team Mates, one of the country’s premier mentoring programs.
The Outland Trophy – Tom Osborne Legacy Award is established to recognize an individual who is a “Winner On and Off the Field”. A national search is conducted and candidates are selected by the Outland Trophy Tom Osborne Legacy Award Committee.
The Tom Osborne Legacy Award was presented — by Osborne to Fisher DeBerry— at the NFID Outland Trophy Award Dinner Sponsored by Werner Enterprises at the downtown Hilton Omaha.
If you’re a college football fan, or even a sports fan in general, it was remarkable scene, One you will not forget!
Retired Head Coach from United States Air Force Academy
Fisher DeBerry served as head coach at the U.S. Air Force Academy for a brilliant 23-year career. He led 17 of his 23 teams to winning records, with 12 capturing bowl bids. His career record of 169-109-1 is the best in school history, in terms of both games won and winning percentage. He coached the Falcons to three conference championships and is the winningest coach at any service academy, having compiled a remarkable 35-11 record against Army and Navy. He was named national coach of the year in 1985 after his team finished with a 12-1 record.
Coach DeBerry was one of the game’s most respected coaches for his efforts off the field as well. In 1996, he served as President of the 10,000 member American Football Coaches Association and also served time as chairman of the AFCA Ethics Committee. In 2001, Coach DeBerry received the State Farm Coach of Distinction Award, in recognition of his football success, example as a role model to his players and service to his community. A native of Cheraw, S.C., he is a member of the South Carolina Sports Hall of Fame and Wofford College Hall of Fame.
More important than his lengthy list of coaching accomplishments, Coach DeBerry has been active in church, charity and community affairs. He has been active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and in 2004 was inducted into its Hall of Champions. He and his wife LuAnn have assisted fund-raising efforts for the Ronald McDonald House, American Cancer Society, Easter Seals, March of Dimes, Salvation Army and the American Heart Association. In 2004, they established the Fisher DeBerry Foundation, which exists to provide children of single parent homes with life-changing opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have, such as sports camps and other activities.
“Fisher DeBerry is the guy who taught me that you can treat kids like they’re your own.” Jim Grobe current Baylor University Head Coach and assistant under Fisher DeBerry at Air Force.
FISHER DEBERRY AND KEN HATFIELD “BREAK THE WISHBONE” AT AIR FORCE
DeBerry was a successful option coach at Wofford, Appalachian State, and as an Air Force assistant, but he takes the offense to the next level by “breaking the Wishbone” and flexing his slotbacks out wide, near the tackles.
Deemed the Flexbone, this forces defenses to defend more of the field horizontally, which would inspire much of the modern spread offense. Air Force’s Flexbone carries the Falcons as high as fifth in the AP poll over two highly successful decades.
Eventual national champ and spread innovator Urban Meyer will be among those reaching out to DeBerry for advice.
BILL MCCARTNEY REACHES OUT TO DEBERRY
McCartney struggles in his first three seasons at Colorado, going 7-25-1 while trying to be something of a “BYU of the Big Eight” by throwing constantly. Coordinator Gerry DiNardo would say “they were absolutely desperate,” and McCartney calls DeBerry, among others, for advice.
The early Wishbone installation doesn’t go well. From Tim Layden’s “Blood, Sweat and Chalk”:
DiNardo met with DeBerry, [Arkansas head coach Ken] Hatfield and [Arkansas State head coach Larry] Lacewell in the winter of 1985 and installed the option at spring practice. He took the practice tape to Lacewell to view during a national coaches’ convention. When DiNardo walked out of the room with his tape, Lacewell said to his fellow coaches, “I feel bad. They’ll be lucky to win a game.” The transition was comically painful. DiNardo recalls a preseason gathering in Denver with a booster club. One of the gentlemen in the audience stood up and, having heard of the conversion to the wishbone, said to McCartney, “Please tell me the first play of the season isn’t going to be a dive up the middle, because I don’t think I can stand that.”
McCartney let the question hang and then answered: “You might want to come for the second play.”
Somehow, the changes work. CU goes 7-5 in 1985 and averages seven wins per year over the next three seasons. And with recruiting both improving and fitting the system, the Buffaloes surge to 11-1 in 1989, then share a national title at 11-1-1 in 1990.
Quarterback Darian Hagan finishes fifth in the Heisman voting in 1989, running back Eric Bieniemy third in 1990, and running back Rashaan Salaam wins it in 1994 during McCartney’s final season. Even in a conference dominated by the option, CU finds a recipe that stands out.