A good first impression

You heard it here first.
Huskers 37, Akron 7 on Sept. 1. Scott Frost starts 1-0 as Nebraska’s new leader.
More on that later.
Since it’s summer and not much at all is happening in the world of college football, I thought it would be kind of fun to look back at how other Nebraska head football coaches fared in the very first games, scanning back some 128 years.
In 1890 Langdon Frothingham’s Bugeaters defeated the Omaha YMCA 10-0 on Nov. 27, and no, the Village People did not perform at halftime. A couple weeks later Nebraska beat Doane 18-0 to finish 2-0 in their inaugural season.
In 1895 Charles Thomas beat Sioux City 38-0 and went on to a 6-3 record in his only season as head coach. That team finished the season with a 6-0 victory over Iowa just after Thanksgiving.
In 1898 Fielding Yost began his only season as the Husker’s head man with a 76-0 thumping of Hastings. That team actually lost a game 24-0 to the KC Medics. Yost was paid a salary of $1,000 that season and would move on to coach at Kansas, Stanford, and at Michigan from 1901 to 1923. His Wolverines won four straight national championships from 1901 to 1904.
In the year 1900 W. C. “Bummy” Booth began his career with a 17-0 win over Lincoln High (although a win over a bunch of high school kids probably shouldn’t be in the record books). That team went unscored upon until the final game of the season, a 20-12 loss to Minnesota in late November.
In 1907 coach W. C. “King” Cole began his four year NU coaching career with a 53-0 whitewash of Peru State. That season ended up 8-2 including an 85-0 win over Doane as well as a 34-0 loss to St. Louis on the road.
In 1911 Ewald O. “Jumbo” Stiehm and the Big Red beat Kearney State 117-0 to open their season on Oct. 7. No word on if there was a running clock in the second half. That team outscored their opponents 281 to 33 but still lost one and tied two.
William G. Kline spent one season as head coach (1918) and lost the opener to Iowa 12-0. His squad played five of six games in Lincoln that season yet won only two times, tying Notre Dame 0-0 in the next to last game of the year.
In 1921 Fred Dawson opened up his career with a 55-0 rout of Nebraska Weslyan. That season featured a 7-0 loss in South Bend, but also a 44-0 win over Oklahoma in the third-ever meeting between the two schools. The Huskers would actually lead the series 4-0-1 following the 1923 campaign, and Dawson finished 3-1 against the Sooners.
In 1929 Dana X. Bible (another legendary early football figure who would later go on to coach at Notre Dame) opened his Husker coaching with a 0-0 tie with Southern Methodist. Bible coached the Huskers for seven seasons and went 50-15-7 in Lincoln.
In 1942 Glenn Presnell had one miserable season as head coach, losing to Iowa 27-0 in the opener, then getting shut out in his final three games to Pittsburgh, Iowa Pre-Flight and Kansas State. I’d have to check to see if Bill Snyder was on the sidelines against the ‘Cats.
George “Potsy” Clark was the head coach for two seasons at Nebraska, in 1945 and in 1948. In ‘45 his team got outscored 81-7 to start the season in losses to Oklahoma and Minnesota, but that squad did go on a four game win streak to end the season. In ‘48 he beat Iowa State 19-15 in late September to open the season, but lost his final three including a 28-12 setback at Oregon State.
Jumping ahead to 1957, Bill Jennings lost to Washington State 34-12 in Lincoln to open his five year Husker  coaching career, and would go on to win just one game that season. His Huskers lost 42-0 at Army and 34-0 at Pittsburgh. Jennings would go on to get fired following a 21-14 setback to Oklahoma in November of ‘61.
Bob Devaney was hired away from Wyoming in December of 1961 and would go on to win two national championships for the Huskers. In a sign of things to come, his first game on the Husker sideline was a 53-0 rout of South Dakota in Lincoln, and he followed that up with a huge 25-13 upset over Michigan one week later in Ann Arbor. His first NU team finished 9-2 including a 36-34 win over Miami in the Gotham Bowl before just over 6,000 freezing fans.
Tom Osborne was Devaney’s offensive coordinator and succeeded him in 1973, opening up at home against UCLA. The Huskers were on fire that day and pummeled the Bruins into a 40-13 win as sophomore I-back Tony Davis ran for 147 yards and two touchdowns.
Frank Solich was Osborne’s hand-picked successor in 1998 and his first game as coach resulted in a big 56-27 win over Louisiana Tech. Solich went 9-4 that season but lost to Arizona in the Holiday Bowl.
In 2004 Bill Callahan was brought in and he promptly beat Western Illinois 56-17 in the opener. The next week Big Red was upset by Southern Mississippi in Lincoln, beginning his bumpy and forgettable four-year stint.
Bo Pelini followed Callahan in 2008 and coached the Huskers for seven seasons. His first game in Lincoln was a 47-24 win over Western Michigan. Nebraska finished 9-4 that season and rode a four-game win streak into 2009 including a 26-21 win over Clemson and Dabo Sweeney in the Gator Bowl.
Mike Riley opened up his brief Husker career with a crazy, disappointing last second loss to BYU in Lincoln, one I still have nightmares about. It pretty much typifies the time he spent in Lincoln, one full of hope and promise but ending in total disappointment. Riley ended his NU gig on a four-game losing skid, getting outscored 197 to 103 including a 56-14 loss at home to Iowa that sealed his fate.
In all, first-year Husker football coaches have gone 25-8-1 in season openers, with 17 shutouts by the defense. To go one step further, the average score of first-year coaches in their opening games is...36.5 to 4.6.
Sound familiar?
DAVE BRADLEY can be reached at advertising@hamilton.net.

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