Like Peyton Manning, Wuerffel is a “by popular request” piece of Huskerkill. Picking on Wuerffel kind of feels like kicking a puppy both because he was so thoroughly punished by the Huskers but also because he’s such a genuinely great human being. Sure Wuerffel won the Heisman and a national championship after the 1996 season, but he also has a trophy named for him for athletes that perform exemplary community service and do well academically. He now dedicates his life to the Desire Street ministries which helps children in New Orleans.
If you don’t know what happened in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl then you’re probably not a Husker fan and you’ve probably never met one. No single game is so lovingly revisited by NU fans than this contest. Wuerffel was sacked seven times for 40 yards and a safety. He was intercepted three times including one that Nebraska cornerback Michael Booker returned 42 yards for a touchdown. The Huskers won by a 62-24 margin.
We’d seen that kind of dominance by Nebraska against the nobodies of college football. But this was an All-American quarterback who was leading an undefeated team ranked #2 in the country. His pass efficiency that year set a single season collegiate record. He’d lead Florida to the third of four straight Southeastern Conference championships. And yet against Nebraska, he looked like Beau Davis against Texas Tech in 2004. Well, maybe not that bad.
It was hard not to root for Wuerffel against the hated Seminoles a year later. Certainly his worst day doesn’t define him. He just ran into the wrong team (i.e. the greatest team in the history of college football) at the wrong time.