The boxes he'd packed were mostly gone.

He needed a little help Wednesday moving a recliner.

"A couple guys came to help me with that," Tom Osborne said. "I think the rest of it, I moved myself."

He plans to stop by the office briefly Thursday morning, for the final time as a University of Nebraska-Lincoln employee.

Osborne's departure from his fourth-floor office at North Stadium evidently will occur quietly, in stark contrast to the din in all those massive college football stadiums he used to frequent on fall Saturdays.

In this case, quiet is just fine, he said.

Osborne, the Hall of Fame football coach, retired Jan. 2 as Nebraska athletic director, but has been putting in full days as athletic director emeritus to help with the transition to Shawn Eichorst.

The 76-year-old Osborne's final day at NU is officially Sunday. He's spent most of his working life in and around Memorial Stadium, starting in 1962 as a graduate assistant for the late Bob Devaney.

"It's kind of mixed emotions," Osborne said. "I'm certainly going to miss some of the people here. These are my friends, and I've worked with some of them for a long time.

"But I'm not moving to another state. I'll be back around here. I feel very comfortable here. I don't feel at all unwelcome. I'll pop by from time to time. I'll certainly go to most of the games.

"It's not like I'm going away forever."

The athletic department's goodbyes occurred in December. An annual end-of-the-year luncheon for staff was turned into a farewell party. There were presentations — poems, visuals, even dances — and plenty of laughs and tears.

In addition, there was "A Tribute to Tom: Night of Legends Gala" in March in Omaha.

Osborne's new office will be in the Union Bank building at 6801 O St.

"TeamMates has some space out there," Osborne said.

"But I'm not going into banking," he joked.

Osborne now will devote most of his energy to TeamMates, the mentoring program he and his wife, Nancy, launched in 1991.

"I'll be doing some fundraising and also recruiting mentors," he said. "I don't think it's a good idea for me to be occupying space in the athletic department and at the same time spending most of my time recruiting mentors and also trying to raise money for TeamMates."

Osborne will continue to make TeamMates presentations to businesses, hoping to attract mentors and educate people about the organization.

"I think they probably would've let me stay here (at North Stadium)," he said. "But I think there comes a time when you reach a certain age, and when you're really not actively involved in doing something. … They need this space for somebody else. And I don't want to give the appearance that I'm just here biding my time.

"I'm not very good at that."

He mentioned his willingness to return when needed.

"If they will allow me, and if somebody wants me to come back to talk to a recruit — and if it's within NCAA rules — I will do that," he said. "And I told people at the stadium research lab that if there's anything I can do, I'll be ready to do it. I just won't get paid for it."

 

Reach Steven M. Sipple at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com.