LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -Tom Osborne apparently still has a little bit of the coaching bug left in his system.
The Nebraska athletic director, whose triple-option offense was the signature of some of college football's most dominant teams in the 1980s and '90s, has been lending his expertise to first-year coach Bo Pelini and his staff.
Osborne regularly watches practices, pops into coaches' meetings and visits individually once a week with Pelini and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson.
Pelini said Osborne is always welcome.
``Let's face it, no matter how long you're around, you never have it all figured out,'' Pelini said Tuesday. ``Everybody has a different perspective, another set of eyes. The more input you take, the more you can learn, the better you become.''
The Cornhuskers' multifaceted offense began featuring quarterback Joe Ganz's running late last season - shortly after Osborne returned as athletic director - and even more this year.
The timing's pure coincidence, Osborne said.
``I don't take credit for anything they're doing,'' he said. ``Shawn wanted to put in some option to make the offense tougher to defend. I just tell them what little I remember.''
And only if asked, said Osborne, who won 255 games in 25 years. He retired from coaching after the 1997 season, winning or sharing national titles three of his last four years and going 60-3 his final five.
Osborne said Watson initiated conversation with him last fall about the triple-option, asking if he knew where to find any video clips of the Nebraska blocking schemes in the 1990s.
Since then, the 71-year-old Osborne has found his advisory role satisfies his appetite to be involved in the sport he coached for four decades.
Having Osborne around and willing to help is a bonus, Pelini said.
``Some of the things we do are a direct reflection of some of the things he did in the past,'' Pelini said. ``Obviously, we have different personnel, and it's a different offensive philosophy. We're not as fine-tuned in the intricacies of how coach Osborne did it. They took it to another level.''
Ganz is the Huskers' third-leading rusher going into Saturday's game against Virginia Tech, with 105 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. He broke an option keeper for a 33-yard touchdown against New Mexico State on Sept. 13.
Ganz plays coy when asked whether he would have been a good fit in Osborne's system.
got a long way to go before I get in his good option graces,'' he said.
But Osborne said Ganz would have been a viable recruiting target when he was coaching. This from the man who coached option quarterbacks such as Turner Gill, Tommie Frazier and Scott Frost.
``Joe is at the high end of the scale of throwing ability of the guys I coached,'' Osborne said. ``Of course, Turner was a good thrower, too. Joe would have been in the middle range as a runner.''
Pelini, unlike former coach Bill Callahan, has embraced the presence of Osborne.
Osborne served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2000-06 and was rarely around the program for three of Callahan's four years. By the time Osborne returned as athletic director last October, the team was unraveling and Callahan's firing inevitable.
Osborne hired Pelini, and the two have formed a strong bond.
``Coach Osborne knows that, No. 1, he can say anything he wants to me at any time. No. 2, he has a tremendous understanding of the game and how to prepare and what to do,'' Pelini said. ``Is he walking down and saying, 'You have to run this play?' No, he doesn't do that.
``But he's very respectful, and he understands the right way to go about it,'' Pelini added.
ed and offered advice only if he was asked.
Osborne said he promises to treat Pelini the same way.
``It's not my job to micromanage and tell them what to do,'' Osborne said. ``I try not to impose on anybody. The worst thing would be to have a guy looking over his shoulder and feeling like he had to do something he didn't want to do. It's important these coaches believe in what they're doing, so they don't need me trying to tell them what to do.''

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