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Feb. 15, 2017

Vince Ferragamo, part 1

Welcome, Husker Nation, to another edition of the Carriker Chronicles and real quickly, I want to give you an update on Beardgate. Yeah, it's still there, and it's still looking glorious. But, it's time to get to the main event of this show, because I have a special guest with me today. This guy was an All-American for the Huskers in 1976, he was named the College Football Player of the Year, he played in the NFL for 9 years, and he's the only Husker in history to start and play in the Super Bowl at the quarterback position. I have none other than Vince Ferragamo, Husker Legend. How you doing, Vince?

VF: Good, Adam, how you doing? Good to hear from ya!

AC: I'm doing well. So, I want to start right off the bat; Tom Osborne is turning 80 very soon. So talk to me about what it was like to be recruited by Tom Osborne and play for him as well.

VF: Well, you're talking about one of the best coaches of all time, I mean throughout the country. I mean, he's always been prepared. He was always meticulous in his game plan, in his search for talent. They always did the best job recruiting talent across the country. I remember them coming to California to try to recruit me and trying to -- Bob Devaney trying to convince my dad, of course, Bob Devaney was the Athletic Director at the time, Tom was the head coach. Tom was just taking over the helm, and I went there right after Dave Humm, and Dave was a star coming out of Nevada, Las Vegas, and so you know I followed in his footsteps and it just kept a story of great quarterbacks that came through Nebraska; and Tom was the guy that was the guru, so to speak. He was the coach that could manipulate, work psychologically, could work analytically with the quarterbacks, and could not only get them prepared each and every week, but really understood the passing game. A lot of people really didn't understand it as well as he did. And he really -- in the Big 8 at the time, he really innovated the passing game as it was in those days, and we were very very talented at all positions obviously, because Nebraska always attracted great talent. So it was great to play for a guy like that and he meant so much for the program, so much for the players, he was always in touch with the families, he loved your mom and dad, the parents, and he always kept in touch with them. And that's what made him a great coach. Not only was he a great coach, a great teacher, but a great mentor for young kids.

AC: Alright, so we have a mutual friend, David Mack, so, he knows you a little bit better than I do. I'm familiar with your work, of course, but he knows you on a personal level, so I asked him to send me a couple of questions. So if you don't like any of these questions, they're probably from him. (Laughter) But this next question is one of his, and -- so when you transferred, you were originally enrolled at Cal, you transferred to Nebraska, and at the time, it was a recruiting violation to be on the sideline during a bowl game. You ended up being on the sideline during the bowl game. I'm curious, talk to me about how that unfolded -- because I believe there was a suspension involved for that and things of that nature, because you also had to sit out a year for transferring. Just kind of clear up that whole situation for me.

VF: Well, I was a redshirt that year, of course, transferring from Cal, I came to Nebraska and I wasn't able to be on a football scholarship because they had the allotment of scholarships, so I first attended on a baseball scholarship. I went to one day of practice in baseball and then flipped over to football, so we were able to do it legally that way. But being a redshirt in those days -- and no one really knew the rule, obviously we wouldn't do anything that was illegal and they brought all of the players, event the scout team players, the players that were redshirts on the trip to the Sugar Bowl down in Louisiana. And apparently there was a rule that you couldn't provide the wherewithal to house these players and to bring them and to financially pay for their way to attend a road trip like a bowl game. Which seemed to be kind of unusual, because we were part of the team, but we were also, you know, players that played as practice squad players. So, Jim Lampley at the time was an ABC analyst was interviewing me on the sideline and apparently everyone in the world knew that I was there but we weren't -- if we weren't supposed to be there, why would I have been interviewed on TV? I mean, obviously we didn't know the rule, and they had to put us on probation. And luckily, for Dean Gissler, Ray Philips, and myself -- the three players that were cited for this offence, had to sit out the first game and we're glad that it was only the one game. Otherwise, it could have hampered a young man's career to not play college football.

AC: Absolutely, now the next thing I want to talk to you about is you are the only Husker in history to start and play in a Super Bowl at the quarterback position, so what was that experience like for you?

VF: Well, you know, playing in the Super Bowl -- you see what happened this year with the Patriots and Atlanta, the two best teams; and the year we went to the Super Bowl, we had a veteran team. We just -- we were able to put the missing links together and that was, you know, we had a very strong running game and me being more of a passer than a runner, we were able to put together a streak of plays and a streak of innovative things into our offense that really caught defenses off guard. So that kind of catapulted us into the playoffs. And to get to the Super Bowl, there's got to be something kind of supernatural and the teams that win are just very, very special. They're poised in times of greatness, and they're ready to make the plays when they have to. We were young at certain positions, that was my first year actually, to start in the NFL, going to the Super Bowl. So there was a lot of inexperience on our end and it was a great Pittsburgh Steelers team; that was their fourth Super Bowl win, and they were just poised and ready and experienced. Had a lot of the coaches, a lot of Hall of Famers on that team. I was privileged to play with two Hall of Famers on my team, Jack Youngblood and Jackie Slater; but we were playing against a team that had maybe 13 to 15 Hall of Famers, so ... And it was a beautiful game, it was tough, it was the largest crowd in the history of the Super Bowl; 103,000+ and it was a thrill for us because the Rams had always made it deep into the playoffs, but never to the Super Bowl, to the Championship Game. We were very thrilled at the time to do it, and to this day, it's -- that record will be matched and broken at some time, but I think it's -- we brought a lot of thrills for the people here, as we did at Nebraska. You know, the play at Nebraska, in the end, you hope a lot of the fans really enjoyed watching us play and that's what it's all about. The game of football is a game of entertainment.

AC: Very cool, now this one is from David, he goes "Your wife, Jodi is from Omaha, and your father-in-law, I'll try to pronounce his name right: Joe Scarpello, is that right? (That's correct) Was a professional wrestler. Now I'm a big WWE fan, he's a little bit before my time, but talk to me about what it was like having a father-in-law that was a professional wrestler.

VF: You had to be very careful. (Laughter) That's his daughter, so if you got out of line, I mean, Joe was about 5'11, 5'10, about 225 lbs and not an ounce of fat on him, and he was built like a brick house and he could really destroy you with his hands. His hands were so strong, he could probably crush your skull with just one grip. And that's how wrestlers in those days were, and he was a naturally born wrestler. I mean, he was self-taught. Self-taught how to play, was a Hall of Fame wrestler for the University of Iowa, could have wrestled in the Olympics in 1958, and I learned a lot from Joe because I learned that life is about having fun and about relationships. The relationships with people that you like and that trust you, and there's loyalty, and all those things were so important. And to this day, I still have friends and people that I've known and know through Joe that have helped me through life. So to have somebody that's not only a guy that you look up to, but a guy that you say, wow, this guy's been everywhere. And to do it on his own the way he did. He moved his family across country, they went to different cities, and they lived paycheck to paycheck in those days. They didn't get the time and money they get today, so I really had a lot of respect for him. And not only as a great athlete, but as a father-in-law, I really looked up to him.