North Platte, Neb.-- (KNOP) Former Huskers running back Jeff Kinney etched his name into the Huskers history books following a career game in the "Game of the Century" vs Oklahoma and has had his eyes on the program ever since his days as a McCook Bison.
While at McCook Kinney became an all-american before heading to Nebraska, fulfilling a childhood dream of any football player in the Cornhusker State.
While at Nebraska he finished with over 500 carries, 2,473 yards and 32 touchdowns including 17 of those during his senior season. Kinney also became a member of the Huskers first national championship team in 1970 and the subsequent team in 1971.
Kinney may be most remembered for his performance on Thanksgiving Day 1971 in Norman, Okla. In a game that is still talked about Kinney had a career performance with 171 yards and four touchdowns.
"Just the things we remember and how generations have passed on all these stories that I'm sure get embellished over time," Kinney said. "But that was a great tradition back then for Nebraska and Oklahoma to play and they had a great football team and we were very fortunate to beat them."
Following his college career Kinney was drafted in the first round of the 1972 NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs and remained in the league up until 1976.
As a fan Kinney has stayed up to date on the big red program especially it's recent athletic developments. The Huskers separated from former athletic director Shawn Eichorst and brought in former Washington State AD for the same position. Being a native of Nebraska and a die hard fan Kinney is excited about the opportunity to meet with the new athletic director and watch his vision unfold.
"I have intentions at some point here to go down and it'll be nice to get the chance to meet him and like I said I've been a fan before I was a player so I am still at that capacity right now," Kinney said.
Being a fan and a former player Kinney knows exactly what Husker nation will be looking for out of the new athletic director but stresses patience to fellow fans.
"Well you know I think realistically it is going to take time and I know what is important to Nebraska people but it is going to take some time. So I mean there are a lot of things an AD has to consider at this point. You know what is the best decision, who do we want to invest in that we think can get the job done," Kinney said.
Currently the hot topic is whether or not Nebraska head coach Mike Riley is the guy that can get the job done. Following a home loss in overtime to Northwestern the seat has continued to warm under Riley, but once again Kinney stresses patience to the Husker fan base.
"Honestly I have gotten to know Coach Riley, I know his coaching staff. My personal desire would be, I would like for them to give him a chance. If you are going to just throw money at the situation and think that is going to take care of it in three years it's not. It is not going to happen and there is not going to be a coach in this country that can come in and turn the program around in two, three years," Kinney said.
Husker fans have reached the top of the mountain several times but have not had a national championship season since 1997. The recent results have caused fans to turn on Riley after only three seasons but Kinney knows that the program can and will get back to their former glory in time.
"You know I think it can happen. I mean we've done it, coach Riley has done it. There have been some games where we just looked ugly and as a former player it hurts. But you know what it takes and you know it takes time and you know it takes building certain positions that we are very young and very weak in right now and I think that is what coach Riley and his staff are committed to."