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Ak-Sar-Ben Itself Merits Praise Along With King Dick And Queen Suzanne - 10-14-10

Come Election Day, White And Terry Can’t Duck Party Labels Any Longer - 10-07-10

Today, Second-Guessing Other Sports Commentators But Some Thoughts On Current Political Issues, Too - 09-30-10

Gates Gives Somber Non-Political Appraisals Of Iraq, Afghanistan - 09-23-10

At Last, A Prominent Moderate Muslim Speaks Out Against Muslim Terrorists - 09-16-10

Today, It’s All About College Football With Some “As I See It” Commentary - 09-09-10

Danes’ Sensible Approach To Immigration Won’t, Unfortunately, Fly In The U.S.A. - 09-02-10

Mosque Controversy Isn’t About Legal Rights; It’s About Moral Use Of Those Rights - 08-26-10

Time To Answer The Obvious Question: What Chance For Success In Afghanistan? - 08-19-10

Two-Paragraph News Story Offers Scary Prospect For World’s Future - 08-12-10

Outdated Constitutional Language Adds To Today’s Illegal Immigration Mess - 08-05-10

Not Wall Street But Democratic Policy Caused Mortgage Market Crash - 07-29-10

Windfarm Promoters Need More Facts, Less Rhetoric - 07-22-10

Nebraska Democrats’ ‘Find A Candidate’ Problem Began Long Months (Years?) Ago - 07-15-10

When The Subject Is Disasters,Obama Needs A History Lesson - 07-08-10

McChrystal’s Firing Spotlights Afghan War And The Slim Chance Of U.S. Victory There - 07-01-10

Advice For An Egocentric President: “I, I, I” Suggests One-Man Team - 06-24-10

Texas Decision Good For Big 12 But Even Better For The Longhorns - 06-17-10

Europe Is Sobering Up From 'Welfare' Binge; Obama-Led U.S. Moving Toward Similar Crises? - 06-10-10

A New Issue: Does ‘Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell’ Make Military Service Easier For Gays? - 06-03-10

Do State Officials Really Understand The Challenges Faced By Omaha Schools? - 05-27-10

Democrats Continue Cheap Shot Campaign Against Republican Congressman Lee Terry - 05-20-10

Cartoonist Koterba Says It Clearly: Don’t Put All The Blame On Schools - 05-13-10

Citizenship For Immigrants Is Inevitable But Start By Closing The Border - 05-06-10

Punish Wall Streeters If They Deserve It But Liberal Dems Spawned The Mortgage Mess - 04-29-10

Did Legislature, Speaker Mike Flood Deserve All Those Kind Words? - 04-22-10

Tiger Sulks His Way Through Masters— Is Obama Gambling On The Nuclear Issue? Rogue States And Terrorists Won’t Sign Up - 04-15-10

Did Obama/Pelosi ‘Sausage Factory’ Produce A Debt-Increasing Unpopular Health Plan? - 04-08-10

The Stories Behind Some Disturbing Headlines And Some Advice For Avoiding National Bankruptcy - 04-01-10

Four-Vote House Margin Makes Americans Swallow Trillion-Dollar Pill They Don't Want - 03-25-10

Insurance Pays 96% Of Family’s Cost For Seven Years Of ‘End Of Life’ Treatment - 03-18-10

President Angry Replaces President Cool; ‘ObamaCare’s’ Chances Helped Or Hurt? - 03-11-10

Americans To Get ‘ObamaCare’ Even If They Don’t Want It? - 03-04-10

Despite The Headlines, There’s Progress In Curbing Violence In North Omaha - 02-25-10

Corporate Expenditures Bad For Politics Except When They Benefit Liberal Candidates? - 02-18-10

Wind Energy Industry Faced Disaster; V.A. Hospital Not Personal Obama Choice - 02-11-10

Some Remarkable Legislative Comments And Some Questionable Media Performance - 02-04-10

When The Subject Is Nebraska Wind Energy, ‘Green’ Is The Color Of Money - 01-28-10

The “Teddy Kennedy Seat” Lesson Might Benefit Both Democrats and Republicans - 01-21-10

Some Legislative Issues—Like Gambling—Deserve Quick Death But Water Issues Deserve Careful Attention - 01-14-10

Today: ‘Big Daddy’ Government Wrong Again, And How Justified Is Cornhusker Title Talk? - 01-07-10

Dan Neary Worthy Of The Honor--
Today Some Upbeat Comments But "Obama Care" Debate Demands Attention
- 12-30-09

Even Without That Health Bill Vote, Another Term For Nelson Was Questionable - 12-23-09

Let’s Talk Football And Why Nebraska’s Suh Deserved The Heisman - 12-17-09

Image of Immigrants Would Be Helped By Less Cinco de Mayo, More 4th of July - 12-10-09

Image Of Islam Is Badly Damaged By ‘God-Approved’ Slaughter Of Non-Muslims - 12-03-09

Close Call For NU Research, Reputation; Thanksgiving Reminder: Count Your Blessings - 11-25-09

NU’s Reputation And Research Role Are Both At Stake When Regents Vote - 11-19-09

Obama’s ‘Yes We Can’
Changing To ‘Maybe We Can’t’?
- 11-12-09

Review The History Before Renaming A Street; Memories Of Sarah, Our Sweet Senior Dog - 11-05-09

“Socioeconomic Diversity” More Important Then Academic Achievement In “Learning Community”? - 10-29-09

A Visiting Sports Columnist Agrees: ‘There Is No Place Like Nebraska’ - 10-22-09

Might Obama Wish He Had A Chance To Say ‘No, Thanks’ To Early Nobel Prize? - 10-15-09

Don’t Overlook The Variety Of Aid Which Goes To ‘Poverty Level’ Families - 10-08-09

Smorgasbord Today: From UN’s “Nutcake Day” To Obama Performance Here And Abroad - 10-01-09

Must Defense Continue To Cover For Huskers’ Anemic Red Zone Offense? - 09-24-09

'Energizer Bunny' President Continues To Add Proposals For Reform - 09-17-09

Today, Variety: Football, Golf And Why No President Should Televise Himself Into The Nation’s Classrooms - 09-10-09

Massachusetts Gave Kennedy Significant Second Chances - 09-03-09

Obama’s Problem Not Just With GOP
But With A Great Many Americans
- 08-27-09

Tiger Could Use Sportsmanship Lesson—And Less Coverage From Fawning Media - 08-20-09

Gallup ‘Competitive’ Label, If Accurate Long Term, Is Good News Not Only For Nebraska Democrats - 08-13-09

Democrats Go All-Out Negative:
Trash Private Insurance Industry
- 08-06-09

Journalistic Watchdogs Turned Lapdogs When Obama Called That ‘News Conference’ - 07-30-09

Look Back, Mr. President: Opposition Is Catching Up - 07-23-09

Dem Lynch Mob Might Hang President’s Hopes - 07-16-09

Dems Start Oust-Terry Effort In The Political Gutter - 07-09-09

Despite Liberal Media's Views, Nation Better Served By Viable GOP - 07-02-09

A Varied Menu For You To Consider - 06-25-09

Freshman President Learning Some Political Realities? - 06-18-09

Voices Of Reason Raised Too Late To Slow Rush To Wind Power? - 06-11-09

Public Will Be Watching Prosecution Of Three Teen-Age Creatures - 06-04-09

Wealthiest Paying Less, In Taxes?
It’s Simply Not True
- 05-28-09

Notre Dame And Obama
Offer A Splendid Lesson
- 05-21-09

Special-Interest Liberals
Shouldn’t Badger Obama
- 05-14-09

A Surprising Source: Obama
Cites Positive Results of Iraq War
- 05-07-09

Media Transfer Their Love
From Candidate to President
- 04-30-09

Suttle Campaign Subtly Two-Faced? Or ‘Just Politics’? Voters Will Decide - 04-23-09

If America Is "At War
With Islam," It's Self-Defense
- 04-16-09

Seven Iowans Change Marriage
Tradition For 3 Million Others
- 04-09-09

Will Liberal Democrats Continue
Escaping The Verdict Of History?
- 04-02-09

Multi-Focused President
Upsets Even Liberals
- 03-26-09

Richard Nixon—Appropriate To Recall The Good As Well As The Dark Side - 03-19-09

Not Reducing Mortgage Costs; We’re Simply ‘Modifying’ Them - 03-12-09

Fair Warning From NY Times: Obama’s “Breathtaking Plans” Would “Transform American Society” - 03-05-09

A Look At Academy Awards Nastiness, But First A Plug For My Book, “Life With Marian” - 02-26-09

Let’s Not Move Slot Machine Cancer From Iowa Casinos To Nebraska Race Tracks - 02-19-09

Whiteclay Is Wrong Target;
Aim At Alcoholism Problem
- 02-12-09

For The Best “Stimulus” Formula:
Put Economic Recovery First;
“Remaking USA” Can Wait
- 02-05-09

Journalistic Hounds Are Still
In Full Pursuit Of Bush
- 01-29-09

‘First Black President’ Celebration
Shouldn’t Further Distract Us
From Job We And Obama Face
- 01-22-09

‘Adults In Wonderland’
Need To Get Real
- 01-15-09

Advice For Husker Fans:
Rejoice—But Be Realistic
- 01-08-09

Kennedy Dynasty History
Includes Shameful Chapters
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Today Some Merry Christmas Thoughts But A Few Political Barbs, Too - 12-24-08

This Time It’s Indians
Who Break The Treaty
- 12-18-08

Me? A Grumpy Old Man?
One Reader Thinks So
- 12-11-08

Obama Steers A Moderate Course
But Congressional Democrats Veer Left
- 12-04-08

Too Many "Non-Blessings"
This Thanksgiving Week
- 11-26-08

Let’s Hear More About
The Principal ‘Crisis’ Victims
- 11-20-08

Color-Blind Issues Voting
Showed No Turn To The Left
- 11-13-08

Election Made History
But Big Questions Remain
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Today, A Choice of Topics:
Politics Or Football—Or Both
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Splitting Electoral Votes Good Idea? Then Why Do 48 States Reject It? - 10-23-08

Dems Take 11th Hour Low Road
In 2nd Congressional District Race
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Another Government “Welfare Program,” Bargain Mortgages, Caused The Crisis - 10-09-08

Words Can Lose Their Meaning
When A Government Program Is Involved
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—Have We Learned This Lesson?— Crisis Results When Individuals, Encouraged By Financial Institutions, Try To Live Beyond Their Means - 9-25-08

Bonds To Build Four-Lane Highways?
Where Would The Money Come From?
- 9-18-08

Today, a Large Load of Political
Commentary After a Brief Plug For
My Book, ‘Life With Marian’
- 9-17-08

Major News Media Look Bad
In Non-Coverage of
Edwards’ Sex Affair Story
- 9-11-08

Disadvantaged Students Can Be
Helped Without Discriminatory ‘Affirmative Action’
- 9-04-08

My Favorite Olympic Champion?
It Wasn’t Michael Phelps
- 8-28-08

Will Chinese Get Away With
'Out Air Is Clean' Scam?
- 8-21-08

Windmills, Solar Won't Do It;
Time To Get Real On Energy
- 8-07-08

I Doubt That God or Jesus
Have Heavenly Money on Either Team
- 8-07-08

‘Pop Star’ Obama Lacks Experience,
McCain Lacks Clear Campaign Strategy
- 7-31-08

Top Athletes Should
Know When to Quit?
- 7-24-08

Would Odor of Politics
Taint Fire Chief Choice?
- 7-17-08

Will Hospitality, Qwest Center
Lure Swim Trials Back to Omaha?
- 7-09-08

Omaha Stars Again
On National TV Stage
- 7-02-08

Omaha's CWS Reputation
Gets New "Rave Reviews"
- 6-25-08

S.D. Vote Could Lead
To National Abortion Battle
- 6-18-08

Don’t Let Niobrara Go The Way
Of The Republican And The Platte
- 6-11-08

Voters Didn’t Impose Term Limits
To Rid Legislature of Chambers
- 6-04-08

“It’s Our Turn” Pitch Might
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- 5-28-08

Prime Nebraska Political
Battleground This Year:
2nd Congressional District
- 5-21-08

The 'Browning' of America:
How Far Will It Go?
- 5-14-08

Obama ‘Stumbling’ To Victory? - 5-08-08

"Does Homebuyer Bailout
Reward the Irresponsible?"
- 4-30-08

"Was McCain, Not Clinton,
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- 4-25-08

"Cleaner Skies Advice For Gore:
Pressure On China, More Nuke
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"Why The Big Fuss Over
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"Quietly, Nebraska Yields
All-Public-Power Status"
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"Obama’s ‘Historic’ Speech Left
Big Questions Unanswered "
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"Overweight Moore Produces
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"Bush Sings, Praises Press
At Annual Gridiron Dinner"
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"Obama Would Be Least
Formidable Opponent For McCain"
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"‘Charisma’ Not Always a Good Thing" -  2-27-08

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"Obama’s Style Without Substance
Exciting, But Is It Presidential?"
-  2-13-08

"Barack Obama and John McCain:
A Major Contrast in Egos? "
-  2-07-08

"‘First Black President’
Emphasis Wouldn’t Help Obama"
-  1-30-08

"Kimball Lauritzen: Think of Her
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-  1-23-08

"What 'Tough' Election Contest
Was Ben Nelson Talking About?"
- 1-16-08

"Overhyped New Hampshire
Offsets Overhyped Iowa"
- 1-10-08

"Coach Bo Now Well Welcomed;
Time to Start Thinking of NU Wins"
- 1-2-08

"Words of Jews Most Moving
To Me This Christmas Season"
- 12-25-07

"AT LAST: TALK OF PREVENTION
JOINS MOURNING OVER KILLINGS"
- 12-19-07

"Killer Is Getting Just What He Wanted;
Let's Add Anger and
Action to Our Sorrow"
- 12-12-07

"Bo Brings Emotional Fire to NU Job;
Scary News: Huckabee Gain in Iowa"
- 12-05-07

"Callahan Outclasses Loudmouth Critics;
Tom Osborne Treated Him Fairly"
- 11-28-07

"A Thought for Thanksgiving Day:
Tell Them You Love Them"
- 11-21-07

"Callahan Critics: Is Loss to CU
The Only Way to Satisfy Them?"
- 11-16-07

"Crybaby Fans, Sports Commentators
Distracting Players From Their Job?"
- 11-09-07

"Did Bob Kerrey’s Decision Avoid
the Likelihood of Defeat?"
- 11-02-07

"Nosy Congress Makes
Three Bad Calls"
- 10-26-07

"Is This The Way to Run UNL´s
Athletic Program?"
- 10-19-07

"Right Decision Could
Help Both Fair, UNL"
- 10-12-07

"Stop Trying To Make God A Republican" - 10-6-07

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As I See It
Harold W. Andersen is a retired Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of the Omaha World-Herald Company. Full biography.

This week we are again making my column available Friday instead of each Saturday as we had originally planned.

A number of you have told me that you don’t look forward to reading the column on your computer screen. That’s not necessary if you have a printer. Print out the column and take it with you to the breakfast table or wherever else you choose to read printed material. (You can also call up past columns in case you missed them.)

And, if you haven’t already done so, let us know your e-mail address so that we can send you a Friday reminder that a new column is available.

Is This The Way to Run UNL’s
Athletic Program?

October 19, 2007

In the continuing brawl over administration of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln athletic program, Chancellor Harvey Perlman clearly has won two rounds and popular former Husker football coach Tom Osborne has won another. But all hands concerned should remember that there will be more rounds, some of them as least as contentious - - and potentially considerably more contentious - - than what has transpired to date.

For starters, Chancellor Perlman took some of the heat off himself and other leaders in the NU system by firing Athletic Director Steve Pederson (whom he had given a five-year contract extension in July). The firing relieved at least some of the “Fire somebody!” and “Fire everybody!” pressure from some fans and wealthy donors. (However, some other fans and wealthy donors publicly and emphatically criticized Perlman’s decision.)

Perlman then further eased some of the pressure by recruiting the popular Osborne as a nominally “interim” replacement for Pederson.

For Osborne, if was at least a preliminary triumph - - appointment to an indeterminate term in a position in which, it was widely believed, he had been interested after he retired from coaching in 1998.

Osborne, presumably with Perlman’s approval, quickly made clear that he will not be a caretaker with responsibility for quickly helping find a “non-interim” athletic director - - one with the business management experience and fund-raising record which have replaced experience as a former football coach as the generally-accepted prerequisite for an athletic director’s job.

Instead of starting to seek such an athletic director to replace Pederson (and Osborne), Osborne indicated clearly that he intends to stay for an indeterminate period (“years” was mentioned as a possibility during his press conference with Perlman) and become involved in the football program, including the decision whether to fire Coach Bill Callahan at the end of this season at a buy-out cost of several million dollars. (There is always the possibility that Callahan would prefer to be bought out rather than serve as a sort of de facto co-head football coach with Osborne.)

If Callahan departs, would Osborne, with Perlman’s approval, recruit a new football coach who would, again with Perlman’s approval, be presented to the new athletic director who might prefer to choose his own head coach?

There was a great deal of comment indicating that the appointment of Osborne will have a calming effect on the volatile Husker football situation. But there is also the possibility that Osborne’s active involvement in the football program, including the possibility that he might fire Callahan, could create a troubling uncertainty in the minds of players, the present coaching staff and possible recruits.

Osborne is a deservedly popular Nebraskan. Whether, at age 70, he is the man to come back and be given authority over the Nebraska football program and the myriad of other responsibilities of the UNL athletic department remains to be seen. Stay tuned.

Remember Pederson’s Achievements

I like Steve Pederson, and I truly regret that the Husker athletic situation is playing out in a way that, when some drastic action was called for by some fans and wealthy donors, Chancellor Harvey Perlman chose Pederson to be the fall guy.

Pederson’s departure should not obscure his achievements, including expansion of Memorial Stadium, creating the Tom and Nancy Osborne Athletic Complex, recruiting a popular and promising basketball coach and support of the volleyball team in a way that drew praise from Coach John Cook. (Cook mentioned specifically Pederson’s leadership in bringing NCAA tournament events to Omaha’s Qwest Center.)

Crybaby Fans, Media ‘Experts’

I don’t know whether Pederson’s departure will satisfy the fans and sports broadcasters and writers who have been demanding that heads - - or at least Pederson’s head - - must roll. But I do think that a good many fans and some sports commentators, both print and broadcast, have performed very badly in these trying times for the Husker football program.

As a longtime Nebraska Cornhusker football fan (I saw my first game in 1932), I have more sympathy for the players and, yes, the coaches than I do for crybaby fans - - those who feel personally offended when a bruised ego prevents them from proclaiming “Aren’t we great?” (heavy emphasis on the “we”) as they do when the Huskers are playing well.

And I have a hard time generating even a modicum of respect for those broadcast and print commentators who, from their seats high above the playing field, indicate that they feel they can (1) call better offensive and defensive signals than the coaches (2) out-coach the coaches also in deciding which players should be on the field and (3) so accurately determine the mental attitude of the players on the field that they can tell whether the players are trying their best or have simply given up.

A World-Herald headline offered this judgment last Sunday: “Cowboys take fight out of Huskers early.” One of the paper’s several football reporter/commentators declared: “This team gave up in the second quarter. Nothing it showed in the second half can change that.”

You had to read the quarter-by-quarter statistics to learn that in the second half, the team that “gave up by the second quarter” had out-gained and outscored (14-7) Oklahoma State in the second half. A sports staff member whose job is to offer opinions, since he is identified as a columnist, suggested that he didn’t have to call for the firing of Steve Pederson and head football coach Bill Callahan because “on the most surreal day in Nebraska football history Callahan and Co. made that case by themselves Saturday.”

So, you see, suicide, not execution as demanded by news media critics.

Another opinion from the sports columnist: “Unless you’ve walked in his shoes, you always have to be careful assuming what is inside a player’s head or heart. But from my birds-eye view, it looked as if NU lost its heart, stopped playing - - gave up - - on OSU’s 90-yard, six-play touchdown drive that made it 24-0 early in the second quarter.”

The columnist didn’t say when was the last time he walked in one of a Husker player’s shoes.

Among reporter/commentator criticisms was this total puzzler, describing Nebraska as going into “desperation mode” when, trailing 17-0, Coach Bill Callahan chose to try for two yards for a first down instead of trying a 27-yard field goal. Somebody not as football wise as reporter/commentators might say that it was an appropriate, gutsy call on Callahan’s part to try to move on for a touchdown, bringing the score to 17-7, instead of settling for 17-3 on a chip-shot field goal. Among other reporter/commentator judgments: “This passing game desperately needs a showcase tight end. It’s a glaring mistake that Bill Callahan hasn’t developed one.” And this: “It’s becoming clearer every week that Bill Callahan’s plays don’t highlight his best talent.” And this: “…the worst Nebraska football crime in half a century.”

* * *

The tone of the newspaper judgments (most of them stated so strongly that one hesitates to call them opinions) was relatively mild compared to some of what I heard driving home from the game and listening to a call-in show hosted by two self-anointed experts on Husker football.

One of the hosts of the show asked whether UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman should keep his job. He suggested calls to members of the Boards of Regents saying, “I want these guys gone and I want them gone now.” The commentator said further that “some crazed lunatic is ruining” the Husker football program. He added that he was not necessarily calling Pederson a lunatic but the situation looked something like that.

After insulting a caller who had pointed out the Huskers’ performance in the second half, this talk show host declared: “I’m not emotionally involved with the football program.” He also had said, displaying that remarkable sports commentator ability to read players’ minds and intentions, that the Huskers had “flat-out quit.”

Need I add that a string of callers, some of whom apparently had been at the game, some of whom may have been watching it in a sports bar, were equally emotionally, ferociously critical in their comments?

* * *

Ak-Sar-Ben Chooses Well

The Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben staged one of their more meaningful coronation balls this year—perhaps the most meaningful in the organization’s 111-year history of recognizing particularly noteworthy individuals and families, always with one choice from Omaha until this year.

This year those responsible for the choice of the King and Queen of the mythical Kingdom of Quivira for the first time chose to recognize two non-Omahans, both Lincoln residents. For king, Tom Osborne, whose service to Nebraska goes far beyond his legendary years as the coach of three national champion Cornhusker football teams, and Halley Ostergard, whose choice recognized the contributions of two Lincoln families: her parents, Tonn and Holly Ostergard, and Holly Ostergard’s parents, Duane and Phyllis Acklie.

The new queen’s father, I thought, addressed very well - - and graciously - - the broader message which Ak-Sar-Ben was sending. Tonn Ostergard said:

“We don’t necessarily feel this is a recognition of just our family, but rather a recognition by the Omaha leadership to the many families across the state that contribute in so many ways.”

I congratulated the coronation ball chairman, Chris Murphy. He and I agreed that, after all, Ak-Sar-Ben is Nebraska spelled in reverse (I avoid saying it is spelled “backward”) and that choosing non-Omahans for both king and queen demonstrated Ak-Sar-Ben’s interest in all of Nebraska.

Chris and I also agreed that choosing Halley Ostergard as queen offered a two-for-one benefit: recognizing both the Ostergard and the Acklie families.

Ak-Sar-Ben Chairman Richard Bell deserves credit for persuading Tom Osborne to accept the recognition of public service that goes with the annual crowning of an Ak-Sar-Ben king. At the traditional king’s breakfast the morning after the coronation, Osborne recognized a number of those involved in this year’s ball and coronation, including Dick Bell, whom he described as the person “who talked me into this.”

Talking with Tom after the breakfast (before he had taken the job of interim athletic director at University of Nebraska-Lincoln), I told him I was pleased to hear that he plans to use the platform provided by Ak-Sar-Ben for expressing his concern about some basic trends in American society and what can be done to reverse those trends. In his breakfast remarks, Osborne had noted the story on the front page of Sunday’s World-Herald which reviewed an alarming total of 27 homicides in Omaha this year. An alarming rate of school dropouts is one of the basic causes of such violence, Osborne indicated.

The new Ak-Sar-Ben monarch, who has a TeamMates Mentoring Program designed to provide counseling for youths, expressed hope that Omaha’s developing Bright Futures program will help keep at-risk children in school with its promise of a fully-paid college education for youths who graduate from high school rather than dropping out.

“If it can’t be done here, it can’t be done anywhere else,” Osborne said of the Bright Futures program.

# # #

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