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Mike Devaney reached up Friday and tried to touch the horseshoe that has hung for years in Memorial Stadium as a symbol of good luck for Nebraska's football teams.

He couldn't quite reach it.

"They must have moved it a little higher than it was back then," Devaney joked of the days when his father was turning Nebraska into a national power.

It was a day to reminisce for everyone who gathered in East Stadium as the university inducted the fourth class into its athletic hall of fame.

And with a change in policy beginning this year, it's perhaps the greatest class of the four and one that will be difficult to surpass.

Five athletes and two coaches were enshrined Friday, and all are at or near the top of their respective sports' histories.

There won't be any topping the trio inducted from the football program: coaches Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne, and Heisman Trophy-winning running back Mike Rozier.

Devaney and Osborne enter after Nebraska director of athletics Bill Moos reversed a policy that started with the first hall of fame class in 2015 that allowed only athletes to be inducted.

"Well, if you live long enough, then sometimes they put you into these things," Osborne joked Friday. "It's very nice, because it's something where you're chosen by people who know you. And most of those hall of fames, the people voting have no idea who you are; they've never watched you. 

"So this is probably a little tighter for me, getting into this one, because thinking of all those losses to Oklahoma, it's just nice that people still vote for me."

It was classic Osborne, who has seen a strong last 10 months continue after the hiring of his former quarterback Scott Frost as head football coach back in December.

In case Husker fans needed reminding, Osborne's hall of fame credentials include a 255-49-3 record and three national titles.

The Husker legend who also quick to speak of friend and mentor Devaney, who turned the Huskers from also-rans into national contenders.

Devaney, who went 101-20-2 from 1962-72 and won Nebraska's first two national titles, died in 1997. He was represented Friday by Mike and daughter Pat.

"It’s an honor, particularly with Bob Devaney, because Bob meant a lot to me. We were together almost 30 years. I was his assistant coach, and he was AD while I was the head coach," Osborne said. "Bob really established a culture here that lasted pretty much for 42 years. And those were mostly pretty good years. So he turned things around, and that was really a big deal, because he brought a lot to the table that stayed with us for a long time."

Rozier, Nebraska's second Heisman winner and only 2,000-yard rusher, joined fellow Husker football players Bob Brown, Rich Glover, Johnny Rodgers, Will Shields and Dave Rimington in the hall.

"If he would have taken it a little more seriously," Osborne quipped, "he would have been pretty good."

Another of Osborne's former players was inducted for his work on the baseball diamond.

Former Husker outfielder and current NU coach Darin Erstad joined his football coach in the hall after a history-making collegiate baseball career. He was the first Husker to be named a conference player of the year, and was NU's first finalist for a national player of the year award.

"It's extra-special with Coach Osborne being in the class as well and everything he's given me," Erstad said. "Right now I'm kind of in the middle of it and there's not much reflection going on, but this place, the state of Nebraska, has given me so much of my life, and I'm very proud to be a part of it."

Softball legend Peaches James, volleyball great Sarah Pavan and men's gymnastics star Tom Schlesinger were also inducted.

James and Pavan can both stake claim to being the best in school history in their respective sports.

James was the first pitcher in Big 12 Conference history to be a four-time first-team all-league selection and was the 2004 Big 12 Player of the Year.

Pavan remains one of the most decorated athletes in NCAA history. She was a four-time first-team All-American, and the only athlete to be named the NCAA Academic All-American of the Year twice.

Schlesinger won two individual titles, including the 1987 all-around championship and the 1988 Nissen-Emery Award as the nation's top gymnast.

The group will be honored between the first and second quarters of Saturday's football game against Colorado.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7436 or On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.


Husker basketball reporter

A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

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