OMAHA, Neb. — Former Air Force Coach Fisher DeBerry has been named the recipient of the Sixth Annual Tom Osborne Legacy Award to be presented on Jan. 15, at the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) Outland Trophy Award Dinner sponsored by Werner Enterprises.
The recipient of the 74th Outland Trophy, as selected by the Football Writers Association of America, also will receive his award at the 23rd straight dinner in Omaha. The dinner will be held at the Hilton Omaha Hotel for the first time.
“Fisher DeBerry certainly had many of the same attributes Coach Osborne had as a coach,” said Bob Mancuso, Jr., chairman of the Greater Omaha Sports Committee. “His strong character, plus his ability to coach excellent line play in an option offense at the Air Force Academy, make him an excellent choice.”
The Tom Osborne Legacy Award is named after the legendary Nebraska coach who won three national titles, 13 conference championships and 255 games from 1973-97. Osborne, either as an assistant coach, head coach or athletic director, has been involved with the most Outland Trophy winners (eight different ones) in the previous 73 years of the award.
Recipients of the Tom Osborne Legacy Award “played, coached and/or made extraordinary contributions to the interior line of college football; and/or made contributions to the Outland Trophy. In addition, the recipient exhibits the characteristics of integrity, sportsmanship and fair play associated with Tom Osborne and continues to demonstrate a record of leadership in the community and to hold a record of good citizenship within and beyond the athletic field.”
The latter attribute is consistent with one of the award’s sponsors, Rotary Club of Omaha - Downtown’s primary motto: “Service above Self.”
Osborne will be on hand to present the award to DeBerry, who is still the winningest coach in Air Force history with 169 victories from 1984-2006. His Air Force teams won the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy 14 times in the annual competition against Army and Navy.
DeBerry coached one Outland Trophy recipient-- Falcons’ defensive lineman Chad Hennings in 1987. After his Air Force teams posted winning records in 17 of 23 seasons and went to 12 bowl games, DeBerry was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 2011.
Since 2003 the coach and his wife Lu Ann have headed the Fisher DeBerry Foundation, a tax exempt, non-profit organization dedicated to the support and education of single mothers and their children, as well as other causes. The Foundation provides support for parenting development, mentoring programs, after-school activities and funding for academic scholarships.
The foundation has awarded more than $1.2 million to support children of single-parent families. It has also sent over 3,000 single-parent children to Fellowship of Christian Athletes summer camps.
It is a tremendous honor to be mentioned with Tom Osborne, who is a dear, dear friend of mine," DeBerry said. "When I became a head coach he was the first person I went to see to find out what I needed to do as a head coach....It is the ultimate award as far as I am concerned. There is nobody I have more respect for,” said DeBerry, who was the FWAA Coach of the Year in 1985.
Previous winners of the Osborne Award are former Nebraska assistant coach Milt Tenopir, Outland Trophy sculptor Jim Ridlon, former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer, former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden and current Ohio coach Frank Solich, who is a former Nebraska player, assistant and head coach.