COACH OSBORNE: MORE THAN WINNING examines the career and personal life of Tom Osborne, a man who built both character and muscle among the football players he coached at the University of Nebraska. In 1997, Osborne became the first college football coach to win 250 games in only 25 years. Winning football games, however, is only part of the story of a coach whose most valued work took place off the field. The one-hour documentary airs on PBS Friday, January 1, 1999, 12:30 p.m. ET (check local listings). Sportscaster Keith Jackson narrates.

When Osborne retired in early 1998, sportswriters began placing his name among the handful of football coaching legends - Paul "Bear" Bryant, Woody Hayes and Knute Rockne. Unlike other coaches of his rank, Osborne did something that none of them had ever accomplished - he won three national championships in four years. But even with such unprecedented success, Osborne was often quoted as saying that the road to victory was more rewarding than winning.

So who is the real Tom Osborne? Both fans and the media have struggled to categorize the enigmatic coach. Raised on the plains of Nebraska, Osborne developed an early affinity for sports, becoming a gifted athlete in high school and college. He went on to a professional football career before returning to his native state. But his love of football was matched by his commitment to education, which eventually led him to earn a Ph.D. in educational psychology.

During his coaching career, Osborne was the target of both praise and criticism. In the early 1970s, he was heralded as the innovative genius behind former Nebraska football coach Bob Devaney's championship teams. But by the end of the decade, he was characterized as an unimaginative coach who couldn't win the big games. By the late '80s, Sports Illustrated called him "Saint Thomas from Nebraska," commending him not only for his ability to win games but also to do it with integrity and grace. Such high regard was only to be replaced by criticism in the mid-'90s after he was accused of compromising his beliefs in order to win national championships as a result of supporting a player who many thought should be suspended for the season.

COACH OSBORNE: MORE THAN WINNING chronicles the championship seasons in which the triumphs on the field were sometimes matched by intense human dramas off the field. As a result of his active interest in members of his team, Osborne became a father figure to hundreds of the players he coached. Interviews with coaches Bobby Bowden, Barry Switzer, Lou Holtz and Jimmy Johnson, as well as players Johnny Rodgers, Trev Alberts and Irving Fryar, discuss their relationships with Osborne.

COACH OSBORNE: MORE THAN WINNING explores the development of a competitive spirit which begins in childhood, is apparent during Osborne's earliest coaching days, and carries him to a final victory in the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida, on New Year's Day 1998.

COACH OSBORNE: MORE THAN WINNING continues PBS' tradition in making first-rate documentaries that celebrate our nation's cultural history.

Day & time: check with your local station


Underwriters: Suzanne and Walter Scott Jr., and Gail and Michael Yanney. Producer: Nebraska ETV. Director: Joel Geyer. Format: CC STEREO

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