LINCOLN, NEB. — TOM OSBORNE - the nation's winningest active coach - has been on Nebraska's coaching staff for 30 years, 19 as head coach. He spoke with the Monitor the day before homecoming. Excerpts follow:On coaching I've never believed in using fear or hatred to motivate players. I mean, it's effective. It can work. But there's such a fine line between fear and hatred that sometimes if you teach players to hate an opponent and things don't go very well at some point in the game, they can become very fearful.
On fan interest If you're a football player, coach, musician, whatever, you want to go where what you do is appreciated. We don't lack for interest. But the flip side is sometimes we're almost engulfed by interest. There isn't really an off-season here.
On winning The margin of error has grown progressively slimmer. What a good season is is quite different today in the minds of most people than it was 30 years ago, when Bob Devaney came. Bob's first year, he was 9 and 2, and lost to Oklahoma by four or five touchdowns. At the end of the season, everyone was ecstatic, very pleased.... Everyone was pleased that we just went to a bowl [game]. Now, going to a bowl game is rather insignificant, and winning eight or nine games is very commonplace and not necessarily ap preciated. We've painted ourselves into a corner here, to some degree.
On players It takes a pretty courageous person to go out in front of 76,000 people and risk dropping a punt or fumbling a football or making a mistake that will cost you a game that seems to be so important to so many people. I like football players. They will take risks, and they know a little bit about living on the edge. Hopefully, a lot of them will be able to keep it in perspective. But there are some people who have been warped and some who come out not as human as when they came. But I'd like to see that kep t to a minimum.