1970 Cornhuskers "National Champions"
(Authentic Reproduction)




Marking the end of the suspension helmet era as approximately 1977, the final change to the Husker headgear was made as they entered the 1970 season. The staggered NU on the sides of the helmet was replaced by what has become the iconic and definitive Nebraska football logo, a simple red block-style N. The red center stripe was maintained as was the placement of the player numerals in the rear of the helmet. In 1969, Devaney may have indicated to his successor that the job was his but Tom Osborne would not grasp the reins until 1973. Perhaps Devaney, a savvy recruiter and judge of talent, knew exactly what he had after the 1969 season and wanted to take a shot at a national championship but those last teams of his were truly special. The 1970 team was 11-0-1, the tie coming in the season's second game against powerful USC. They posted a 17-12 defeat of LSU in an exciting Orange Bowl contest behind a soph-laden defense led by Rich Glover, John Dutton, and Willie Harper. The three newcomers looked to All American Larry Jacobson for guidance. The offense was "all go" with Osborne's schemes and the alternating leadership of QB's Jerry Tagge and Van Brownson. RB Joe Orduna, I-Back Jeff Kinney, and do-it-all speedster Johnny Rodgers got the offensive headlines while soph Bill Olds learned the ropes for the future, one that led him too into the NFL. After the defeat of LSU, Devaney did in fact have Nebraska's first National Championship. Additionally, number 20 Johnny Rodgers was put on the top of everyone's list of potential Heisman Trophy winners, even though he would be a junior in 1971. 

The 1971 season was as good as '70, this time capped with a second National Championship, a 12-0 record, a 38-6 hammering of a revitalized Alabama team, the Outland Trophy won by tackle Larry Jacobson, and Heisman Trophy notice for next season for scatback Johnny Rodgers. What a year!
Actually, it was some kind of year for the Big 8 as Oklahoma, who had narrowly lost what was called "The Game Of The Century" to NU in a shoot-out that featured Rodgers most exciting punt return, was number two and Colorado three in the nation's final rankings. The names were now familiar: Tagge, Brownson, Kinney, Rodgers, Olds, Harper, Jacobson, Glover, and the addition of middle guard and future Raider LB Monte Johnson. Devaney must have realized that it wouldn't and couldn't get any better but decided to come back for one final year and a try for a three-peat. His 9-2-1 finish kept the Huskers out of the throne room but Glover easily won the Outland Trophy and the defense was frightful, throwing four consecutive shutouts and insuring All America notice for Willie Harper and Glover of course, with John Dutton and safety Joe Blahak getting close. New QB David Humm earned Soph Of The Year honors and Rodgers was always dangerous. Falling short of three consecutive National Championships but walking away with a winning percentage of .829, Devany announced his intention to devote full attention to the AD's job. Tom Osborne now had the keys to this machine.
From 1973 through 1977, Osborne became one of college football's greatest coaches with his .836 winning percentage, 255-49-3 record, three consensus National Championships, six Outland and two Heisman Trophy winners, and thirty NFL first round selections. In short, as great as Devaney was, Osborne one-upped him and built an all-time dynasty. His 1973-77 teams were 9-2-1, 9-3, 10-2, 9-3, and 9-3. Every one of them went to a major bowl game and every year was a battle with Oklahoma for the Conference crown. The devastating I-Back Offense produced a series of great running backs in these years, establishing a pattern that followed for two decades. Tony Davis (Cincinnati, Tampa Bay), Rich Berns (Tampa Bay, Oakland), and Isaih Moses Walter "I.M." Hipp (Oakland) paved the way for Rozier, Roger Craig, and others. The first officially named strength coach in collegiate football, Boyd Epley, installed a program on September 15, 1969 that became a model for many schools, creating monstrous linemen on both sides of the ball, often out of in-state walk-ons that otherwise would have toiled at Hastings College, Coe College, or other lesser programs. Among the best known of the "road graders" and defenders from 1973-'77 were John Dutton (Colts, Cowboys), Rik Bonness (Oakland, Tampa Bay), Stan Waldemore (Jets), and long time collegiate coordinator Barney Cotton (Bears, Cardinals). Osborne's first teams, following in the footsteps of Devaney's squads established a run-oriented attack combined with a smothering "Blackshirt" monikered defense that dominated the collegiate game and forever made the red block N on their white helmet synonymous with excellence. 

If interested in any of these NU helmets please click on the photos below.