The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, June 16, 1994, Summer, Page 7, Image 7

Below is the OCR text representation for this newspapers page. It is also available as plain text as well as XML.

    NetSraskan SPORTS
Rathman gains fame
as result of hard work
By Derek Samson
San Francisco 49er and former Nebraska
standout Tom Rathman is walking proof what
can be accomplished with hard work.
Rathman, a familiar face in the Huskcr
backfield from 1983-85, returned to his home
state Sunday where he signed autographs at the
Sports Card Show XI in the East Park Plaza.
“It’s nice to get back because the people
really treat me well,” he said. “I was just talking
to some kids and we were talking about pro
football. I never really thought about it as a
realistic goal when I was their age.”
At least that was until Rathman made the
varsity team his first year after walking on at
“I’ve always been a hard worker and when I
made the varsity my first year, I realized I could
probably accomplish anything if I worked at it,”
he said.
The fullback’s style of play represents his
work ethic, which has earned him two Super
Bowl rings. Pro Bowl appearances and an annu
al spot on the All-Madden team.
“That is pretty much the way I grew up —
having to work for everything I got,” Rathman
said. “I like to do all the dirty work.”
But the Grand Island native, currently a free
agent, is faced with a new dilemma brought on
by the NFL’s salary cap, which he said would
force him to take a cut in pay and maybe a
change in team.
“I know I’ll have to accept less (money)
wherever 1 go,” said Rathman, who resides in
Redwood City, Calif. “Right now, I’m just
trying to look for the best situation for my family
and that’s to stay in California.
“I hope to make a decision here pretty quick,
but I’m just waiting for the right numbers. I
think I’ll either resign with thc49ersorgotothe
(Los Angeles) Raiders. I hope to play two more
years and then retire.”
Rathman doesn’t have any regrets as he is
approaching the end of his career.
“I could quit right now and be happy with my
career,” he said. “I’ve been blessed with the
successful teams I’ve played with in Nebraska
and San Francisco. I’ve played in two Super
Bowls, which is easily the high point. That’s the
ultimate team concept and the most gratifying
“I’ve played with some of the best players
ever at their positions, such as Joe (Montana)
and Jerry (Rice). I feel really lucky for playing
with some of the all-time bests and playing on
some of the teams 1 have.”
But Rathman hasn’t been just a face in the
crowd on these talented teams, as he quickly
became the NFL’s top receiving running back
after breaking into the NFL.
“Nebraska taught me a lot about what 1
needed to know such as blocking,” he said.
“When I was drafted it was primarily for block
ing purposes, but one thing Nebraska didn’t
teach me was to catch. I think that (ability to
catch) was something that made me valuable to
San Francisco.
“In San Francisco, I did a lot of little things
and I took pride in my ability to do a lot of
different things well. I consider myself as an
intelligent player and I think that also helped
me through my career.”
Another highlight for not only Rathman, but -
many Cornhuskcr fans, was the 49ers’ backfield
during the team’s Super Bowl years that dis
played Rathman at fullback and another former
Huskcr, Roger Craig, at tailback.
“It always seemed like Rog and I were beat
ing on the same drum,” Rathman said. “We
always knew what each other were thinking. It
was a lot of fun being in the backfield with him
and its something I really miss.”
But don’t expect Rathman and the leader
ship he brings to the 49ers to disappear from the
gridiron after the next two seasons.
“I’ve talked to San Francisco about coaching
and they’re very interested, so I think that’s the
direction I’ll go,” he said. After veterans such as
Craig and Montana left the team, “Nobody was
taking the responsibility of being a leader I
knew I had to take over that role. It’s a role I
enjoy and that I expect to continue."
Jason Levkulich/DN
Tom Rathman, a member of two San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl teams,
signed autographs Sunday at East Park Plaza. Rathman, currently a free
agent, wants to continue his career in California, where he currently lives.
Big 8 steps forward as power conference in 1993-94
The Oklahoma baseball team fin
ished off the 1993-94 year in convinc
ing fashion, rolling through its com
petition in the College World Series
on the way to its first national cham
pionship since 1951.
But Oklahoma did so much more
than just bring Us school some much
needed pride.
The Sooners 13-5 championship
game win over Georgia Tech also
capped off a year when the Big Eight
conference stepped forward as one of
the biggest powerhouses in the NCAA.
In tnc NCAA’s three major sports
—footbal 1, baskc tbal 1 and basebal 1—
the Big Eight players and coaches
definitely had nothing to hang their
heads about.
In football, the Big Eight placed
four teams in bowl games and finished
the year with all four teams—Nebras
ka, Colorado, Kansas State and Okla
homa—in theTop20ofboth the USA
TODAY/CNN and Associated Press
The Big Eight teams were 3-1 in
bowl games, and the only loss was
Nebraska’s last-second, Big East ref
eree- plagued, illegally paid Florida
State players-involved, premature
dowsing-of-FSU-crybaby-coach- Bob
by Bowden 18-16 loss to the Semi
During those bowl games, the Big
Eight outscored its opponents 150-75,
erasing the nickname the “Big Two,”
which was tagged to the conference
during thedaysof Sooner- Husker foot
ball dominance.
It was the same ol’ thing for Big
Eight basketball fans, as Kansas, Mis
souri and Oklahoma State provided
respect on the national level and the
Big Eight did as it normally does in
the NCAA tournament — average.
But even though the Big Eight only
placed four teams in the NCAA tour
nament this year, it was still repre
sented well, as Missouri made it to the
Elite Eight. Big Eight basketball
shouldn’t have lost any respect that it
earned in previous years.
But it was the Sooners’ national
championship inOmaha Saturday that
took the Big Eight from the one of the
better overall conferences to probably
the best in the land.
It had been since 1959 when Okla
homa State defeated Arizona 5-3 that
a Big Eight team could wear the crown
of the NCAA baseball king.
And now with the expansion into
the Big 12, the conference will un
doubtedly become the most competi
tive all-around.
In baseball, it will reign at the top
of college baseball for years with the
addition of baseball mammoth Texas
and mini-monster Texas A&M.
It will also be improved in football
as the overrated Aggies (still a big
name) and the always decent Long
horns, Baylor Bears and Texas Tech
Red Raiders join the league.
And in basketball, well, at least it
will be fun to watch Tony Barone take
swings at people.
But the Big Eight’s performance
on the national level this year proved
it needs no help gaining respect.
Every school, with the exception of
Iowa Stale, contributed in some way to
the Big Eight’s rise to stardom in
Nebraska was cheated out of an
national championship in football and
made the NCAA tournament. Okla
homa won the national championship
in baseball and beat Texas Tech 41-10
in the John Hancock Bowl.
Kansas continued its winning tra
ditions in basketball and baseball.
Colorado beat Fresno State 41-30 in
the Aloha Bowl and Bill McCartney
again won the A1 Bundy look-alike
Kansas State won the Copper Bowl
52-17 and earned a trip to the NIT
Final Four. Missouri was ranked high
throughout the basketball season and
went as far as the Elite Eight in the
NCAA tournament. Oklahoma State
had another strong year in baseball
and basketball.
And then there’s Iowa State, which
won only the award for the ugliest
uniforms in college athletics.
Well, lucky for them, there’s al
ways the annual meeting with the
Hawkeyes, which always results in
great games and the Cyclones’ best
chance to taste victory. <
Look for the Big Seven to dominate
again next year.
Samson Is a Junior news-editorial major
and a Daily Nebraskan sports columnist.