Herbie Husker: the history of a Nebraska icon.

As our beloved Herbie nears 50, we take a look back at a mascot legend.

Herbie Husker, A legend is born

The year was 1977 and Tom Osborne was beginning his first season as head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Nebraska was looking for a cover for their 1977 media guide. Husker sports information director Don Bryant reached out to Dirk West, a Texas cartoonist who in 1971 had created the Texas Tech “Red Raider”, about drawing a cartoon that would symbolize the hardworking values of Nebraskans. The drawing was done and the when the ink dried, the first version of Herbie Husker came to life. 

The History of Herbie Husker
1974 Nebraska Media Guide

The Original Herbie Husker​

There have been many iterations of Herbie but the original Herbie wore denim overalls, a large cowboy hat with an ‘N’ on it and an ear of corn in his pocket.

The original Herbie Husker

Herbie’s biggest makeover came right before the 2003 football season. Steve Pederson was a first year athletic director at Nebraska and it was decided that Herbie’s appearance needed to be updated to better reflect Nebraskans in the twenty-first century. Herbie’s overalls and shoes were swapped out for a red cowboy hat, blue shirt, denim jeans and work boots.

Humble roots, similar to Nebraskans​

Herbie has now worked in his role for 47 years, bringing a positive attitude, and is self-motivated and team-oriented. Herbie never complains, but just gets on with the job. Herbie personifies Nebraska’s hardworking dedicated spirit. His amazing career was founded on humble roots and was preceded by other mascots, Corncob Man, Huskie the Husker, and Harry Husker. Herbie is the longest running mascot in Nebraska history.

Harry Husker University of Nebraska
Harry Husker
Corn cob man University of Nebraska
Corn Cob Man

Herbie Husker, a cast of characters

Since 1977 many students have suited up as Herbie, and are urged to keep their identity a secret through graduation day, preserving the magic for all the Husker fans. The role of Herbie is not a paid position, students, instead, receive a small academic scholarship and are part of the spirit squad. If you want to try out for the Herbie role you can, regardless of your year at school. If you do try out you have to be willing to commit to one year as Herbie. The role entails practicing with the cheer squad for about 6 hours a week and also attending Husker games, events, and other special events. Sometimes Herbie gets invited to special occasions, and has attended weddings, once walking a bride down the aisle!

Herbie is not "okay"

Herbie Husker 2022 change

In 2022, UNL made a small but very relevant change to Herbie’s left hand. He can now be seen holding up the number 1, instead of the ‘okay’ sign that has been used for the last 50 years.  According to Lonna Henrichs, the UNL athletic department’s licensing and branding director, it was pointed out that the ‘okay’ sign is a hate symbol. The University quickly made the change.

Herbie Husker Trivia!

When was Herbie Husker Born?
How old is Herbie Husker
What was the first game Herbie appeared in?
The Cotton Bowl vs Texas in 1974 (Nebraska won 19-3)
What year did Herbie win the National Mascot of the Year award?
Who Created Herbie Husker?
Dirk West