|HometownJersey City, NJ|
Rich Glover’s defensive dominance in the 20th century compares to Ndamukong Suh’s of the 21st. And though undersized at 6-foot-1, 235 pounds, the New Jersey product was one of the Big Eight’s premier enforcers and made "middle guard," more commonly "nose tackle," a household term in Nebraska.
He had 22 tackles — going up against All-America center Tom Brahaney — in the 1971 "Game of the Century" victory over Oklahoma that was dominated by offense.
The Huskers couldn’t pull off a three-peat, but Glover’s 1972 All-America season was historic. He led Nebraska in tackles again in a 9-2-1 campaign capped by an Orange Bowl rout of Notre Dame. He won both the Outland Trophy (best interior lineman) and Lombardi Award (top lineman or linebacker).
A third-round choice by the Giants in the 1973 NFL draft, Glover played one season in New York and in 1974 played with Shreveport of the World Football League. He went back to the NFL with Philadelphia in 1975 before injuries ended his career.
Glover, an assistant coach at New Mexico State in 2004, has spent most of the past four decades working with youth. He has coached high school football and headed a foundation to help inner-city kids back home in Jersey City. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1995.
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The following Q&A ran in The World-Herald on Sept. 30, 2016.
Rich Glover would have kept playing, and the former Nebraska defensive tackle thought he was better than some linemen the Philadelphia Eagles were going to keep before the 1975 season.
He also had a fallback plan when a knee injury was part of the reason for his pro football career lasting just three years — two in the NFL and one with the World Football League.
“The guy said, ‘Nothing personal, Rich, we like you, but we like these guys better,’ ” Glover said. “But one thing they couldn’t take away was that I had my education, and I could go back and teach.”
Glover, 66, has been teaching, coaching and mentoring ever since — currently at Dickinson High in his hometown of Jersey City, New Jersey. Maybe he’ll go one more school year, he says, but you never know.
Glover and his foundation also plan to keep running his All Access to Life Football Camp each summer, which Glover said the city gets behind by helping with things like buses and lunches for campers.
There, New Jersey youth can hear from the Husker legend who was a two-time All-American and won both the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award in 1972. Glover was never better than when he registered 22 tackles in the 1971 Game of the Century win at Oklahoma, and knocked down Jack Mildren’s final pass attempt.
Although undersized for the position, Sports Illustrated in 1999 named him to the All-Century Team, with Bronko Nagurski at the other defensive tackle spot.
Some thoughts and recollections from Glover, who said he still tries to come back for a Husker game every season or travel to a bowl game:
Q: What do you make of Nebraska being in the Big Ten?
A: In some ways, I’m sorry the Big Eight broke up, because of the rivalry games you always had. You had Nebraska-Oklahoma, and I miss that. But I understand that’s the way sports is going these days — it’s about the money and prestige — and you want to be in the best conference. So you have to do what you have to do.
Q: How did you avoid trouble growing up in a rough area?
A: Trouble was going to always be there, but it was once I started playing sports. I had older brothers who played sports, and they helped me out. And with my mom I definitely had to stay out of trouble, or I wasn’t going to play. Back then, sports was pretty big, too, so guys would steer you away from where the bad guys were.
Q: Why were you so hard to block?
A: I just wanted to make the plays, and I just played hard. I did my assignment and just went to the ball. Back then, teams weren’t doing a lot of zone blocking, we slanted a lot, and (I) used my quickness and speed.
Q: Did you ever play a better game than NU-OU in 1971?
A: I’d have to say that was my best game, because all that was at stake. Playing for the Big Eight, the Orange Bowl, the No. 1 ranking ... and at that time Nebraska hadn’t really been beating Oklahoma.
Q: Where did your family want you to go coming out of high school?
A: I really wasn’t a heavy recruited athlete. The schools back East were Penn State and Syracuse, so for me I wanted to go to one of them. Syracuse didn’t think I was big enough and couldn’t do the schoolwork, and same with Penn State. I took a trip to Iowa, but the coach was on his way out so I knew I wasn’t going there.
Q: Freshmen weren’t eligible at the time, but do you think you could have helped the Husker varsity before your sophomore season?
A: I think I would have been able to play. I just liked football. Football was a place to take out all your anxiety, to hit somebody and not get in trouble. I could beat you up, and I wouldn’t get in no trouble. That’s where I needed to be. But I wanted to play. I wanted to hear my name.
Q: When you see the current Nebraska football facilities, what do you think?
A: I think it’s great to have it. I wish we had something like that when I was there, but I think we helped build what they have now, too. But with them having whatever they need, there’s no reason Nebraska can’t be like it was.
Q: If sacks would have been an official stat when you played, how many would you have had?
A: I’d say a few. Back then, though, the Big Eight was more of a running conference. People didn’t throw the ball a lot, so not as many chances.
Q: When you did get the quarterback, how did you celebrate?
A: Remember, you got Coach (Bob) Devaney, Coach (Monte) Kiffin ... and we didn’t have time to do all that stuff that they do today. You get back up, get back to the huddle, get ready.
Q: What was the feeling like to get a scholarship to Nebraska?
A: For me, leaving Jersey City, it was an opportunity to go to the Midwest, meet new people, new environment, new food, and no hanging out on the corners. Plus you’d get a chance to travel, fly on the planes, stay in hotels. We’d go down to bowl games, hang out in Miami. One year (1971), we got to go to Miami and Hawaii.
Q: In the moment, did you realize the Game of the Century was the classic it became?
A: That game was nationwide, worldwide, the only game on TV that day. You had all that we were playing for, No. 1 vs. No. 2. You knew it was a big game, but I didn’t know it would turn out to what it turned out to be.
These are the players who built Nebraska football.
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