Skip to main contentSkip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit

Column: Things are changing for college football, and not for the better

  • 0

I received an invitation from Bill Janssen, an old Nebraska teammate, to a post-Oklahoma game party when Nebraska plays Oklahoma at home on Sept. 14. I always look forward to seeing old teammates to catch up on news, drink a beer, and share funny stories. Its hard to believe it’s been 50 years.

Who is Bill Janssen you ask? He’s one of the most accomplished players in the history of the program — having been a member of the 1970 and ’71 national championship teams. He started at left defensive tackle on the 1971 team, which is considered by many sports historians as the greatest college football team of all time. He only weighed 215 pounds when Nebraska beat archrival Oklahoma in the Game of the Century. Being so underweight makes his accomplishments even more amazing. He was also on the cover of Sports Illustrated twice.

Janssen (copy)

Bill Janssen played multiple different line positions for Nebraska and lettered in 1969, ‘71, and ‘72. Janssen is one of four players from North Dakota to letter at Nebraska. He was the starting defensive tackle on the 1971 national championship team that went 13-0.

In 1971, I played on the freshman team. So, I really didn’t get to know Bill until 1972 when he was co-captain with Doug Dumler. He was a great leader and went out of his way to help the younger players. I remember he told me that if I made a mistake, don’t make an excuse to Coach Kiffin. Of course, his advice went in one ear and out the other. I made a bad play, gave an excuse and got a tongue lashing from Coach Kiffin.

Looking back when I played, if you were a good high school athlete, you might catch the attention of a college recruiter. They’d request game film to review and, based on how you performed, they might offer you a scholarship. I remember getting a letter from Assistant Coach Cletus Fischer outlining the terms of my scholarship offer. I’d get room and board, meals, books and tuition and $15 a month.

georgemills (copy)

George Mills, Community Columnist

To put it in perspective, nobody from my immediate family attended college. My dad was a truck driver, and my mom was a waitress, both honest and hardworking people who did what they had to do to survive. So, when I received the scholarship offer from the defending national champions Huskers, it was like winning the lottery. It was hard to believe. All I had to do is maintain a 1.6 grade point average. Seemingly an easy task, but with all the distractions of college life, it was difficult those first couple of years. We had fall practice, winter conditioning, spring practice and summer workouts coordinated by Boyd Eppley, our trendsetting strength and conditioning coach.

The path to playing time was well-established. Each player had to improve their strength, quickness and technique, so they could make plays and move up the depth chart. As a red shirt sophomore, I was at the bottom of the list. But I stayed focused and kept working hard in order to improve my chances.

Despite the competition, players felt loyalty toward teammates and pride being a member of the team. They’d do everything in their power to help the team win. If they had problems, they’d work through them.

Now, if you compare that environment to today, things have really changed for the worse. The Transfer Portal allows every unhappy player, for whatever reason, a vehicle to transfer to another school. It could be he’s not happy with his playing time, the competition is tough or he doesn’t like his coach. It doesn’t matter the reason, if he’s unhappy, he can put his name in the Transfer Portal and the problem is solved.

In addition, the NCAA’s new rule that allows athletes to profit from their Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) will also have a negative effect in the sense that the goal of going to college, regardless of playing sports, is to get a degree. It’s obvious that running a side business while going to school and playing football would make concentrating and graduating even more difficult. My prediction is that the NIL will be detrimental and help diminish graduation rates.

It’s ironic that the NCAA is supposed to make rules that protect the integrity of the game and help athletes graduate, but the recent rules do the opposite. Athletes are preoccupied with transferring and making money instead of focusing on earning a degree.

Husker season subscription promos

Columns by Community Columnist George Mills

George Mills is a former Douglas County Board member and Husker defensive lineman from the early 1970s who has a master’s degree in urban studies.

  • Updated
  • 0

Memorial Park and the Omaha National Cemetery are fitting places to honor our fallen as long as we remember the significance of their sacrifice. 

  • Updated
  • 0

Were all those free drinks for the 1975 Huskers a Fiesta Bowl setup? 

  • Updated
  • 0

Plenty of folks are dissatisfied with both parties. Columnist George Mills has a plan. This comes with a satire warning.

  • Updated
  • 0

If you get vaccinated, you may prevent the virus from spreading and claiming another victim. Just as in the fight against polio, we need to unite as a nation and do what’s best for the common good.

  • Updated
  • 0

Everyone has fond memories of summer fun. But the one event that bonds us all together is the Fourth of July. 

  • Updated
  • 0

The downtown revitalization should include restaurants and shops at the new Gene Leahy Mall area, similar to the European plaza idea, a Pulse writer says. 

  • Updated
  • 0

Mayor Stothert's equity mantra should be, “Go north, new business.”

  • Updated
  • 0

George Mills, an alumnus of Archbishop Ryan High School, looks back at the school's history. 

  • Updated
  • 0

It’s a real head scratcher; we have a $131 million, state-of the-art stadium that sits idle more than 300 days a year. Clearly, it’s underutilized in comparison to the halcyon days at the “Blatt.” 

  • Updated
  • 0

"The kindness of strangers is real and is an important contrast to the toxic partisan politics of the time."

alert
  • Updated
  • 0

While we wait for the pandemic's end as well as springtime and next football season, take heart in knowing that in 1971 we had an all-time best college football team.

George Mills is a former Douglas County Board member and Husker defensive lineman from the early 1970s who has a master’s degree in urban studies.

0 Comments

Catch the latest in Opinion

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

Columnist Tom Purcell writes, "Living well and living an active life has nothing to do with age, but with the decisions we make every single day."

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

all

Breaking News

Huskers Breaking News

News Alert