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A Story From The Stands – What Have Former Nebraska Football Players Learned From The Game – McGinn
Nebraska wasn’t the first choice for this star from Chicago’s Mount Caramel High School. “I was recruited by George Kelly, who coached at Marquette University,” Judge McGinn said. McGinn didn’t stay long at Marquette and was called to seminary, but soon realized the priesthood wasn’t for him.
“I sent a few letters to different universities,” McGinn said. His direct contact received a response from an old friend. George Kelly was now one of Devaney’s coaches at Nebraska. “Kelly told me they had a scholarship for me and to come out.”
McGinn packed his bags and headed for Lincoln. It was 1962 and excitement was high in Lincoln. But his first day at Nebraska was a little stressful. “I skipped the physical,” McGinn said. “I hurt my shoulder in high school and it needed to be fixed.”
However, McGinn didn’t have much time to get emotional about the problem. “Coach Devaney came to me and said don’t worry, they’re going to fix everything.”
“Preseason practice at Nebraska wasn’t as tough as it was in high school,” McGinn said. “When it was hot, they let us have a break and they even cut us salt water and oranges and lemons.
Even regular season workouts were lighter. We haven’t done many calisthenics exercises. If you played on Saturday, you wouldn’t have to next week.” Football was fun for that run, now switched to guard on offense and defense. Yes, he played on both sides of the ball.
McGinn focused on his studies and his goal of becoming a dentist. But that too changed quickly. “I got a D in chemistry, so I majored in Arts and Sciences and Teachers College,” McGinn said. He wanted to become a coach.
McGinn missed the first game of the Devaney era because he was unavailable due to a transfer. The Huskers went to the Gotham Bowl in New York City and defeated Miami in a cold weather, 36-34.
The following year, he was part of Oklahoma’s 5/4 style defense. “On top of the guards there were five lower editors and 2 guards,” he said. Nebraska also used an alternate team approach in which McGinn would go to All-American underclassman Bob Brown.
“There were some opposition players who were happy to see me come in after dealing with Brown for a while.” Brown was 6′ 5″ and 270 and McGinn was right at 6′ and 205, almost exactly what he is today. Not everyone on that team was a giant. Even a tough guy from Cleveland named Frank Solich in the backfield.
McGinn came into play with his strength and size. The popular Husker Power program was still a few years away. “In those days there was a Sears weight set in the field house and a big bar in the basement of the Coliseum,” he said.
Excitement grew at a record pace, and with it, the seats for the sea of red on the south side of the stadium spilled out of the ground. “When I was in high school, the South Stadium was coming to an end,” he recalled. Along with the new room, there are several types of hot and sunny bowls for the believers. Nebraska won the 1963 Orange Bowl 13-7.
“We played Arkansas in the 1964 Cotton Bowl and we controlled them for most of the game, but they hit small plays and we couldn’t adjust,” he said. “I recovered a fumble but it wasn’t enough, they beat us 10-7.”
The future football coach, majoring in English and philosophy, was now a graduate of Nebraska. The real world is calling. “I went to Firestone’s recapping facility in Aberdeen, South Dakota,” he said with a big smile. “Then I became interested in law school.”
McGinn enrolled at the Nebraska School of Law and worked for District Attorney Paul Douglas. When he graduated, he was offered the office of country attorney, where he remained for eleven years until appointed to the circuit court by Governor Charles Thon.
“Hopefully, I’ll try to use my judgment and do something good to protect the community,” he said. “I like different experiences.” But there is one type of experience that clearly bothers him. This is when the young man stands up to him.
If he had his way, he would rather have the young men standing in front of people like Devaney, Osborne and Solich than standing in front of him. “Kids need supervision and attention, and sometimes they don’t understand it,” she said. “Sometimes they just don’t have a chance.”
Retired referee McGinn won’t be at every Husker home game, but you might see him at the same time as some of his old friends. “Fred Duda and I used to go to a Notre Dame game, and a bunch of us get together every summer.
“They’re probably talking about the opportunity to play at Nebraska. Bernard McGinn made the most of his opportunity.
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