If you want a Tom Osborne book that is a pleasure to read in one sitting, try “More Than Winning: The Story of Nebraska’s Tom Osborne” from 1985.
But if you want a more challenging, less focused book with comments on politics and society, pick up his most recent offering, “Beyond the Final Score” from 2009. The man who coached Nebraska football to several national championships writes authoritatively here, in each of the book’s nine chapters, about much more than football.
After reaching the top in college football, Osborne served in the nation’s capital for six years as a U.S. Congressman, service he writes about in “Beyond the Final Score: There’s More to Life Than the Game” with thought-provoking statements.
Our country is in debt to an alarming degree, individually and collectively, but such a crisis can lead to self-examination and a realization that God is in control, not us. We must ask ourselves the hard questions Are we really as self-sufficient and infallible as we suppose? Is “every man for himself” a sustainable way of life? Will more money, more “things,” lead to the peace and security that we want?
Of Osborne’s four books, “Beyond the Final Score” gives readers the most to contemplate. It offers his views of politics; society in general; life including its “spiritual” aspects; success; and of course football, coaching, and his work as Nebraska’s athletic director, the job from which he retired Jan. 1.
America is still good in many ways, but few can argue that our culture has not drifted badly in many other ways. Our “greatness” is certainly being challenged. For better or worse, college sports have changed, right along with our culture — and I think we must take an unflinching look at these changes to honestly evaluate where we go from here … Players are generally better prepared academically and in better physical condition than ever. But they are also more troubled— not all of them, but an awfully large number of them carry heavy emotional baggage.
Even some Nebraska fans might have been surprised that Osborne ran for Congress.
“I suppose that I was somewhat of an oddity among football coaches in that I didn’t read the sports page of the newspaper during the season, but I did keep up with current events in the United States and abroad,” Osborne writes after addressing the negatives of politics.
” … even though politics can be difficult, sometimes very negative and personal, we need people who will tackle these issues with our country’s best interests at heart. Many well-qualified people won’t run for office because of all the negatives, but someone has to do it.”
“Beyond the Final Score” has far less autobiographical information about Osborne’s youth than the earlier book “More Than Winning,” but it does have a one-page capsule (like a resume) of Osborne’s career, and a one-page table summarizing his coaching record. Osborne also writes about the TeamMates Mentoring Program founded by him and his wife Nancy.