June 16, 2010

Where are they now: Clint Finley

Known toughness and ability to punish opposing receivers and running backs with big hits, former Nebraska safety Clint Finley embodied everything a Blackshirt should be.

A four-year contributor who started in games since his redshirt freshman season, Finley worked his way into the Huskers defensive rotation and saw action at both free safety and rover during his career.

In the latest edition of HuskersIllustrated.com's "Where are they now?" series, we sat down with Finley to catch up on his life since suiting up for NU.

I'm sure you've been happy with the way Bo Pelini has been able to turn Nebraska back into a contender since taking over two years ago. What's your assessment of the job he's done so far?

"I think they just got the kids excited about it again, and they brought back the traditions that we're all so proud of. They brought back people who know about those traditions, and the kids there at Nebraska know about those traditions as well. It's just something that I'm glad to see coming back, and I'm really excited about what he's been able to get done."

You were always a pretty competitive guy when you played here. How hard was it for you watch the program go through the tough times it did a few years ago?

"It was really hard. It was really hard. You know, all the guys that I played with before then, it just wasn't the same for us when we came back. Before when you came back, everything was pretty much the same, and you felt like you were still a part of that deal. It just felt so different. Everything was completely different, all the way down to the people. Now, everyone feels so much more welcome down there. It feels like the Big Red of old."

"Is there a favorite game day memory you have from your time as a Husker?

"My biggest highlight was probably the interception return for a touchdown against Colorado in '98. I think that was the only touchdown we scored that game, and we ended up winning 16-14. It was kind of my highlight. Colorado was always a big rival, and it was just a special play for me personally. It was mostly the fact that we needed it to win. That's really the play that I look back on often."

Have there been any safeties to come through Nebraska since you left that you've especially enjoyed watching?

"I enjoyed watching No. 33 this past year, Matt O'Hanlon. I enjoyed watching him because I could kind identify with him in a lot of ways. I was really happy to see him succeed. I know he had a couple of hard times early in the year, and I don't know him personally but I know the things that he was going through. I was really happy to see him end up being really successful. I was pulling for him, and I was happy to see him get the last laugh. I felt like I could identify with him quite a bit."

In what ways do you think you identified with him?

"Just the way he ran around and made plays. He was a lot more confident in himself. Early in the year he had a couple mishaps that later on, they weren't happening. I don't know for sure if it was his mistake because I don't know what coverage they were in, but they had the lead (against Virginia Tech), they were playing great and then they gave up the big play and lost it at the end. I don't want to say it was his fault because I don't know if it was, but he came back and he made a lot of really big plays for the team. It was just one of those deals. I know he was down there at a low point, and he ended up ending on a high point."

You've obviously heard the news that Nebraska is leaving the Big 12 Conference and joining the Big Ten. Being a native Texan, what's you're reaction to all of this?

"I think it's probably the best move. You know, I'm going to agree with anything Coach Osborne goes with. I have so much faith in that man, and he knows what is best for Nebraska. Obviously he's helped get that thing turned around in the right direction again, and I'm going to be behind him in any decision he could possibly make.

"From a personal standpoint, though, it's a little disappointing just because my opportunities to see Nebraska are not going to be there nearly as much. One day I want my boy to be a Husker. I'm sure he will be. I hope that he does. But it would have been a great opportunity for him to go up and see them play in Texas a little more often, but whatever is best for the university is what I'm going with."

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