Former Northern Michigan University football players are organizing an event during homecoming to honor one of their former Wildcat coaches, Buck Nystrom. The "Hands on the Line for Coach Buck" social event will take place at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20 at the Holiday Inn of Marquette. The cost to attend is $40. The players have also started a scholarship in Nystrom's name. Former Wildcat football players and others who would like to attend the tribute event or make a contribution to the scholarship should contact NMU Athletics at (906) 227-2105 to RSVP or for more information.
Nystrom coached college football for nearly 40 years, including stints as an assistant at NMU from 1975-80 and 1987-92. He also was an assistant at North Dakota State University, Michigan State University, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Colorado. Nystrom, a Marquette native, was a part of five teams to win National Championships at the NCAA Division I or II levels, as either a player or coach, including the 1975 Wildcat title team.
As a player, Nystrom earned All-Big Ten, All-America and Academic All-America honors with the Michigan State Spartans. He was also a team captain, most valuable player and a two-time Rose Bowl player, including once as the game's MVP. He was drafted in 1956 by the Washington Redskins of the NFL. Nystrom earned his bachelor's degree at Michigan State University and master's degrees at Northern Michigan University and North Dakota State University.
Nystrom started his career at the high school level, but made his mark on the sidelines of the college game, where he stood alongside some of the all-time great football mentors, including Michigan State's Duffy Daugherty, George Perles and Hank Bullough; Oklahoma's Jim McKenzie and Barry Switzer; Colorado's Bill McCartney, and Chuck Fairbanks at both Oklahoma and Colorado. At NMU, he worked with head coaches Rae Drake, Gil Krueger, Bill Rademacher, Herb Grenke and Mark Marana.
Off the field, Nystrom has also been very involved with the Special Olympics, March of Dimes and various other charitable organizations.