Frost was far from the only one in Lincoln who stood in awe of Devaney. Clad in his scarlet fedora and blazer, flashing his Irish wit, Devaney, who died of cardiac arrest last Friday at the age of 82, won back-to-back national championships in 1970 and '71 and is the person most responsible for building the Big Red football program into a powerhouse. He had a record of 101-20-2 at Nebraska from '62 to '72, and from '67 to '93 served as the Cornhuskers' athletic director. "He's the only mentor I ever had," said his successor as coach, Tom Osborne, on Sunday, his voice cracking. "My philosophical approach to football is his. He's the one who brought the hard-nosed style to Nebraska, and it's the same style we play today."
It is a style that reflected Devaney's toughness; he boxed during his days at Alma (Mich.) College, using the moniker Duke Devaney. In his first year at Lincoln, Devaney drove the Cornhuskers to a 9-2 record, their best in 23 seasons. In 1969 he was bold enough to adopt a relatively new formation, the I, and then he rounded up the huge linemen his version of the I required to open holes for star backs like Jeff Kinney, Jerry Tagge and Johnny Rodgers. While he was known for running a tight sideline during games, Devaney rarely called the plays. A young assistant named Tom Osborne did that from the press box.
Little Girl Big
When Mirjana Lucic was four years old she sneaked into the family car so she could tag along to the local tennis club, where her nine-year-old sister, Anna, was taking lessons. "I was sad because all I had to do was play in front of the house and my sister was down there with a lot of kids having fun," says Mirjana, recalling her upbringing near the coastal town of Split in southern Croatia. "My father thought I was too young for tennis."
After that the father, Marinko, let Mirjana come along to the club, where she happily fetched balls and water for Anna and the other players. Soon Mirjana announced that she wanted to play, too. When an instructor asked her how old she was—and warned that the club didn't allow players under five—"I smiled," says Mirjana, "and put up six fingers."
She may have needed a little stealth and guile to get started, but hard work is what brought Lucic her breakthrough tennis achievement. On May 4 she became the youngest non-U.S.-born female singles champion in history when, at 15 years, two months, she won the Croatian Bol Ladies Open in her native land. She is also the first player to win in her pro debut. "I was very impressed with her presence," said Amanda Coetzer, the world's 10th-ranked player, who lost to Lucic in a semifinal at Bol. "The crowd was unbelievable, and she coped with the pressure well."
Always big for her age—she's now a muscular 5' 10"—Mirjana has easily overpowered opponents. She won the '96 U.S. Open and the 1997 Australian junior titles, as well as some matches for Croatia in this year's Federation Cup, before her historic win at Bol. "She hits the ball big off the ground and with her height has an advantage on the serve," says Chanda Rubin, who has teamed with Lucic in doubles. "Those are the two main ingredients to being a top player. She's had a great start. I'm curious to see how well she does from here."