Devaney to be immortalized with east stadium statue

LINCOLN – Two days before Nebraska hosts Wyoming in the season opener for both football teams, Nebraska Director of Athletics Shawn Eichorst announced Thursday that he has commissioned a statue of Hall-of-Fame Football Coach and former Husker Athletic Director Bob Devaney. The statue will be installed in the new East Stadium Plaza which serves as the doorstep to a 52,000 square-foot research facility, 38 new suites, 6,000 new seats and a graphic-rich tribute to Nebraska football tradition inside the historic gate 20 entrance.

The life-sized bronze statue of Devaney, sculpted by Omaha artist Joe Putjenter, will be unveiled Friday at 4 p.m. in a brief ceremony open to the public. Mike Devaney and Rob Devaney, Bob's respective son and grandson, will attend Friday's dedication and share their thoughts, along with Eichorst, Tom Osborne, Nebraska's former head coach and athletic director, and UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman.

"This is Memorial Stadium's 90th anniversary season, and we wanted to recognize the man who's widely considered the one who really built this stadium from the 36,000-seat facility it was when he arrived in Lincoln in 1962," Eichorst said. "With the stadium's anniversary, the dedication of the expanded East Stadium and the fact that Wyoming and Nebraska were the only two schools that Bob Devaney ever served as head football coach, we thought this was the perfect time to honor his tremendous legacy."

Having Devaney's statue in front of what is believed to be the only joint on-campus academic and athletic research facility in intercollegiate athletics is appropriate in another meaningful way. The North entrance to Memorial Stadium's Athletic Complex features a Tom Osborne/Brook Berringer statue and the stadium's actual playing surface was recently reintroduced as "Tom Osborne Field" on both the East and the West sidelines.

"Coach Devaney added Coach Osborne to his staff as a graduate assistant the first year he was here and later hand-picked him to be his successor as head coach," Eichorst said. "Our Athletic Department has gone to great lengths to make the Devaney Center, named in Bob's honor, a world-class, modern-day facility. But we also wanted something visible to honor Coach Devaney at Memorial Stadium, which has been sold out since the first year he arrived in Lincoln."

Nebraska had only three winning teams in the 21 seasons before Devaney arrived. His first team went 9-2 and won Nebraska's first-ever bowl game, 36-34 over Miami. Devaney's teams won back-to-back national championships in 1970 and '71 and captured eight conference championships in his 11 years as head coach. His overall 101-20-2 record in 11 years at Nebraska included a 32-game unbeaten streak. Devaney's 1971 team that beat Alabama, 38-6, in the Orange Bowl, was recently voted by The Sporting News the No. 1 college football team of all time. Devaney coached 14 years at four Michigan high schools before becoming an assistant coach under Duffy Daugherty at Michigan State from 1953 to 1956. He served five years as head coach at Wyoming from 1957 to 1961 with a record of 35-10-5. His career head coaching record at both schools was 136-30-7 for winning percentage of .806. While he was head coach at Nebraska, Memorial Stadium attendance more than doubled to 72,700.

Devaney and Osborne became the third coaching duo to post back-to-back 100-win careers at the same institutions, but the first pair to accomplish that feat in just 22 years. Devaney served as Nebraska's Athletic Director for 26 years from 1967 to 1993.

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