Larry Jacobson was a starter on the 1970 and '71 National Championship teams as a defensive tackle. He was the first Nebraska player to win the Outland Trophy and went on to play with the New York Giants. More information about Larry can be found at this link.
This interview with Larry was done by David Max on June 3rd, 2004.
DM Where are you from originally?
LJ I grew up in Sioux Falls, SD.
DM Who recruited you to Nebraska?
LJ I got recruited basically by Carl Selmer and Devaney and Monte Kiffin. I was lucky. I was recruited for basketball as well as football. Back then they had two different signing dates. One for football and one for the guys that played multiple sports. By the time we got done with our state tournaments and stuff there wasn't that much time left. They had already signed 30 or so guys and they only had 5 or 8 other guys that they wanted so I got pretty good treatment. I couldn't travel in the spring until after basketball season was over with.
DM Were there any other schools that were recruiting you?
LJ Yeah. I went to Minnesota, Kansas State, Iowa and I got letters from all over. I signed a Big 10 letter of intent with Iowa and I signed one with Nebraska and then I signed the national letter of intent with Nebraska.
DM What made you pick Nebraska over Iowa?
LJ I liked the atmosphere better at Nebraska. I was pretty straight laced when I was in high school and when I went to Iowa all they wanted to do was just party all the time. When I went to Nebraska they were a little more serious about it plus I had a couple of friends there and I hung with them while I was being recruited.
When I told the guys from Iowa that I was going to Nebraska they really didn't like it. They sent one of the coaches to try and talk me out of it. Devaney sent Kiffin to be with me for 2 or 3 days prior to signing day. One day after school when I went to the back where he had his car parked there was a coach from Iowa waiting for us so we went driving through town and Monte lost him in traffic. We took off and did some things and when I came back my mom said the Iowa coach was parked in front of the house waiting for an hour for me to show up and finally left. I told him I would meet with him before the national letter day and he came over after we had dinner and Kiffin went out in the back and played croquet with my sisters while the guy from Iowa was talking to me and they were promising me all this stuff and telling me how great it was at Iowa and he finally left. I came in the front room and Kiffin was sitting there and I was kind of in a daze and he said "You didn't change your mind or anything, did you?" I said "No, I don't think so. I think I'm still going to Nebraska." He said "Devaney told me I can't come back if I don't get your name on the paper!" He was a little excited about that.
DM Who was your position coach at Nebraska and what was he like?
LJ They had freshman teams back then and Monte Kiffin was the defensive line coach and Warren Powers was the defensive back coach. They moved up in 1969 to the varsity so I had them for all four years.
DM What was it like playing with Rich Glover?
LJ Rich was fun. When I was a junior in 1970 he was a defensive tackle behind me and I think he played in a couple of games. I remember when we played Minnesota up there and my high school coach from South Dakota came up there and my parents were there. They ran a play around our end and I went up to tackle the guy and missed him. Devaney jerked me out of the game, grabbed me on the sidelines, jerked my face mask and yelled at me. Then he put Glover in for about a quarter and kind of really upset me because here was my parents, my friends, and my high school coach there and I was on the bench. When I went back in I didn't miss any tackles after that.
DM Do you have a favorite Bob Devaney story?
LJ He was really just a good guy. He took care of his players. Every time after one of the bowl games he would always get some place where they had a pool and he'd buy a keg of beer and let the players do whatever they wanted to do. I remember when we played in the Sun Bowl in 1969 against the University of Georgia. They accepted the invitation and then lost their next two games so they weren't really too excited about playing us. We went down there and for some reason they had scheduled our field the same time that the band was scheduled to practice there. Devaney was a little upset but being the kind of guy he was he had us jump in buses and we went over to a high school field to practice. He let the band take the field over us.
DM Is there a particular regular season game that sticks out in your memory?
LJ Well, there are several of them. Obviously, the big one was the Oklahoma 1971 Thanksgiving Day game. We all remember that one and we see it at least once a year on ESPN. I remember going down and we brought our own food with us because we were afraid we were going to get poisoned down there. They had such a crown on the field you could lay down on the field and look across and you could only see waist high on the players on the other side because the crown was so high. And then after the game everyone got thrown in the showers. When the plane flew back to Nebraska we couldn't get off the field because there were so many people waiting for us at the airport. It's one of those games that you remember every little thing that happened in the game.
DM Did you have a good game that game?
LJ Yeah, I've watched all of it and I think they credited Glover with 24 tackles and I was in on 16 or 18 of them. At the end of the game when they had one last chance to come back I got one quarterback sack. Then the next play I got rid of my guy and ran by him and Glover came in and knocked the ball down. That's something I'll always remember.
DM Of all the teams that you played, who would you say had the best coach?
LJ Probably Oklahoma (Chuck Fairbanks). One thing about them was every year that we played them they were well coached. We respected the hell out of them. They respected the hell out of us. We didn't have to worry about them hitting after the whistle. They played as hard as they could but once the whistle blew they stopped. It's not like playing Colorado. Colorado was a team that you had to watch what was going on or they would knock the hell out of you, and they're still that way. They never learned how to win.
DM Who was the best player that you ever played against?
Oh, geez. I don't remember specifically any one player. The Oklahoma
players were awfully good. We won most of our games. We lost two in
1969. Other than that we kind of just dominated everybody. Other than
that one Oklahoma game we never had any close games. We played Alabama
in January of 1972 and we won 38-6. They had a guard that was a sophomore
or a junior named John Hannah. He played with New England for years
and years. When they played him against me, they had him cut blocking me every play. All I had to do was shove him to the ground and go
around him. I couldn't understand why they were doing that, but he
was an awfully good player.
DM What was your best bowl game memory?
I think probably the LSU game. That was our first national championship.
I had a couple of good plays in that game. We were ahead 3-0 and they
were coming back out and they ran around my side and I made the tackle
and caused them to fumble it and Willie Harper picked it up and we
got the ball on the 18 yard line. Tagge took them in from there and
we were up 10-0 after that and we ended up winning 17-12, so maybe
if I wouldn't have caused that fumble we might not have won the game.
I had a couple of good quarterback sacks and some other things that
game, so it was a much better game than beating Georgia or Alabama.
Those weren't even close games.
DM You won the Outland Trophy in 1971. How did you find out that you won?
Well, it was kind of weird because when I was a junior I think I made
an "All Bowl" team. I didn't even make honorable mention
All Big 8. Then I got a call from Kiffin my senior year telling me
I won the Outland Trophy and I didn't even know what it was. He had
to spell it. I found that out before I found out I made All Big 8
or anything else so that was a big deal at the time. I really didn't
know what it was. There wasn't any tradition on it. Also, Rich Glover
and I were finalists for the Lombardi Trophy. That was only the second
year they had that. Anybody that wanted to vote for Nebraska split
the vote between us and a guy from Notre Dame won that one.
DM Where was the presentation?
Ha, ha. They made it at halftime at a basketball game in Nebraska.
They gave us these little plaques of a guy with a leather helmet with
a little inscription at the bottom of it that said the Dr. Jay Outland
Trophy. I did find out one thing later that was kind of interesting.
I think the reason that they named it for him was because he was an
All American in college and then he went to med school and they let
him play football there and he made All American there. I'm a stockbroker and one of my clients was a OB GYN in Lincoln and he went to
college with Dr. Outland.
DM You had your jersey #75 retired after the Spring Game in 1994. What do you remember about the retirement ceremony?
They had it at halftime of the Spring Game, and that was the first
year that they decided to retire some of the older jerseys. They retired
the Heisman Trophy winners and that year they retired Trev Alberts'
jersey. They wanted to do something for him. I think they decided
that anybody that won a national award they would retire their jerseys.
There are only about 13 that have been retired. My parents and a couple
of my sisters and my daughter was there, and it was a lot of fun.
DM What was the transition like going from Nebraska to the New York Giants?
I played in the Senior Bowl in Alabama that year and the coaches were
from the Giants. It was interesting because people were asking me
where I wanted to go play pro ball and I said "Any place but
New York." Any place else you could buy a house and live around
there, but I could never live in New York. So I ended up there and
the first year I did start. The second year I was there and stepped
on a piece of glass by a pool and severed a tendon in my foot so I
didn't play that year at all. The third year I came back and started
the first part of the year and my back started bothering me and they
couldn't figure out what was wrong and I got a sore on the bottom
of my foot and another piece of glass about an inch or an inch and
a half came out of my foot again. During the fourth year we were doing
a drill in camp and a rookie cut blocked me, which he was not supposed
to do, and three guys fell on me and I broke my leg. They moved practice
over about 15 yards and hauled me to the hospital and the coach never
called me or anything. I made my own reservations home. The fifth
year I came back and they flunked me on my physical. The pro game
was not that good for me. The college game was a lot of fun. We won
most of our games and the Giants were 8-6 my first year and one game
out of the playoffs, and after that they only won like 2-3 games a
year. They weren't very good.
DM Do you still stay in touch with teammates you played with?
Oh yeah. They have a lot of golf functions and things like that around.
Jerry Murtaugh has a deal so I see him two or three times a year.
I see Bill Janssen all the time. Bill and I do a lot of hunting together.
I see Joe Blahak at different functions. Some of the later guys. I
see Tommy Frazier at a lot of banquets and stuff. It's always nice
to renew old friendships. Dennis Claridge is my daughter's orthodontist.
DM Are there any comments you would like to add about your playing days at Nebraska?
The one good thing about Nebraska is the people remember who played
the game and who played on the good teams. It's alway fun to go places
and they ask you name and you tell them who you are and they remember
the things that you accomplished. They're still living on the traditions
that were started back in '70 and '71 with those two teams, and it's
alway fun to be remembered. People in Nebraska are basically football
crazy. I hope the new coaches coming in can revive the memory and
get the players in that we need to have in the program. The last few
years they've overachieved with the quality of players that they had.
I think this is the first year we didn't have anybody drafted in the
first three rounds since before 1970. We haven't had the quality athletes,
and it looks like they're going to be able to get them in now. All
they can do is hope they can keep the traditions going that started
when Devaney was here.
DM What are you doing now?
LJ I've been a stockbroker for the last 25 years. I've been with Morgan Stanley the last 20 years, and I'm going to retire in December. I'll be 55 and the heck with it. There's a lot of guys that are brokers. Bill Janssen, Guy Ingles are a couple. I was an accounting major at Nebraska and was a scholastic All American. I got more votes than anybody in the country for being a player and being halfway smart. That's all it took back then.
Larry was on the January 10, 1972, cover of Sports Illustrated with Bob Terrio and Bill Janssen and will be at the fund-raising dinner for the Bob Terrio Classic on July 15th. He and Bob and Bill will sign 71 original and numbered copies of that issue that evening. You can order your copy here.