Usually, I try to start each blog post with something clever, witty, catching.
Today, all I need is this.
The guy in orange is Bill Kosch. The guy in black is Jesse Kosch. They are father and son. And they are wearing ALL FIVE of Nebraska Football’s National Championship rings.
As I put together these Huskers Throwback Thursday stories over the last two months, I’ve heard about the Kosch family several times from both viewers and former players. Having fathers, sons and other family members all play for Nebraska happens often (check out my Throwback to Bo & Barrett Ruud!), but to have two involved in ALL of Nebraska’s championships?!?
“I think somebody was like, ‘are you the only father/son to have all the championship rings?'” said Jesse, during a recent trip back to Lincoln. “I was like, ‘well, maybe!'”
No doubt this is special. It’s no coincidence either; these two produced REMARKABLE numbers while at Nebraska.
Bill Kosch played for Nebraska in the Devaney Era, the starting defensive back on both the 1970 and 1971 teams. This photo shows Kosch, #24, intercepting the ball against Texas A&M in 1971. (Thanks to fanbase.com for the photo!) He played in both national championship games and the Game of the Century. His favorite game, however, was during his junior year, playing USC at the Coliseum in 1970. USC was then ranked #3 and Nebraska had largely been ignored by the national media.
“Playing under the lights in Los Angeles, I picked off Jimmy Jones in the end zone,” Bill told KETV’s Andrew Ozaki last week. “Wasn’t exactly sure where I was, I brought it out to the 25-yard line. We didn’t win the game but we didn’t lose it either, a 21-21 tie. We got a lot of notoriety out of it, and it kind of got us going toward #1 in the 1970 season.”
As for Bill Kosch’s favorite championship; it’s the first one his son, Jesse, won for the 1994 title against Miami.
The now iconic image of players lifting Coach Tom Osborne off the field after winning the 1994 National Title, Osborne’s first. Thanks to Nebraska Athletics for the photo!
“It’s just so dramatic. So rewarding. It’s so relieving, so tense,” said Bill, who watched the game over again in the days leading up to this year’s matchup between Nebraska and Miami. “We just shut ’em up. And it was terrific.”
Jesse clearly remembers those moments being behind 10-0, a deficit Nebraska cut to 10-7 by halftime. He remembers the now legendary Tom Osborne speech in the locker room that inspired his team to capture the title.
“To come from behind and win it the way we did, FINALLY, was very rewarding,” said Jesse. “A lot of us were walk-ons from Nebraska. You get there and you learn a lot from the guys who have been there a year or two before you. You just keep kind of passing that along.”
When you add that year’s totals to ’95, ’96 and ’97, punter Jesse Kosch accrued 4,234 yards in 101 kicks at Nebraska. He’s still on three of the Huskers’ record lists; for Top 10 Longest Punts (74-yards), Top 10 Season Punting Average (44.7) and Top 10 Careers Punting Average (41.92).
One of Jesse’s proudest moments came in his last game as a Husker, playing Tennessee for the 1997 national championship.
“I was like, ‘oh, boy’, standing with your back to the end zone with 20,000 orange people yelling at you,” described Jesse. “I had one of my best punts of my career right there.”
There is no shortage of football talk at the Kosch dinner table during family reunions. (I’m guessing KETV Lincoln Bureua Chief Andrew Ozaki could’ve stayed there talking football all day!) Father and son had a few days for that last weekend; Jesse took part in the Tunnel Walk last Saturday paying tribute to the 1994 team. He then headed back to work in Colorado, running his Husker merchandise store, Big Red of the Rockies, in Estes Park, Colorado.
One viewer who contacted us said: “Jesse is a true Nebraskan with his hospitality and generosity. For example, he opens his door up to my family to come watch the games in the store when we are in town. Also, he will take all the time he can to talk with Husker fans when they come into the store and reminisce about the current and past Husker teams.”
The Bill and Jesse Kosch say their history is just fun to talk about; again, it’s special. Bill Kosch wants to make sure people know his teammates Jerry List and Joe Blahak each had sons on those 1990’s teams. But no other duo has all five rings like Bill and Jesse do.
“You think, wow,” said Jesse. “We were part of something that so far, has never been duplicated.”
During our interview, a precious little blonde with gorgeous, big eyes climbed up onto Jesse’s lap. As a mom myself, I’m guessing she’s more into Sophia or Dora than Ameer or Kenny. Should we dare to dream of ANOTHER championship ring in the Kosch family?
“This is little Tatum,” said Jesse. “She kicks the soccer ball around pretty good!”
Mark your calendars; Tatum will be Husker Football eligible in 2030.