At the turn of the century, more than 10,000 fans chose the Cornhusker All-Century Football Team on huskerwebcast.com.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Johnny Rodgers got the most total votes, as punt returner, 7,109 votes, and wide receiver, 7,358.
But offensive tackle Zach Wiegert received the most votes at any one position.
Those 7,951 votes from a highly engaged clientèle can tell you something about what made Wiegert, a Fremont native, an Outland Trophy winner in 1994 and now one of the busiest real estate developers in Lincoln history: His A game.
"I'm kind of a driven person," he said. "Always have been."
The local ramrod on the university's Innovation Campus, with many other projects in the pipeline, describes himself as a problem-solver at heart, at least since his college days. He certainly was that protecting his running backs from ferocious defenders and continues as he runs interference for a complicated plan on the site of the old State Fair Park.
He majored in economics. He admired engineers for their problem-solving skills.
"I found them interesting because it makes you think," he said. "Supply and demand. Every action has a reaction.
Now, years later, he sees opportunities to build, literally and intangibly, on Nebraska land and on what people elsewhere love about Nebraskans.
"There are so many, I really don't know where to start," he said. "The one that's really easy is Innovation Campus, investing in brainpower. Companies really love to hire people from Nebraska. People love Nebraska grads. It's merely work ethic.
"I think there's a real ability with Innovation Campus to get companies to come to Nebraska to participate in our workforce here -- in droves. I want to get that for the whole state.
"Lincoln and Omaha are becoming more attractive places to live. As both Omaha and Lincoln continue to advance, you'll see paybacks."
His vehicle is Scott-Woodbury-Wiegert LLC, a partnership of Tetrad, the company run by Walter Scott's son, David, in Omaha, the Woodbury property development company of Salt Lake City and Wiegert Properties.
The connection is Wiegert's father-in-law, John P. Martin, a partner in Quarter Circle Capital in Omaha. He worked for Occidental Nebraska Savings and Loan in the early '80s. When the savings and loan crash happened, they had properties in Park City, Utah; Las Vegas and points west, and he had real estate issues to resolve, Wiegert said. Martin then became acquainted with Jeff Woodbury, a real estate attorney who went to Drake University, and later introduced him to Wiegert.
"When I got drafted, I knew I wanted to do real estate development," Wiegert said.
So Wiegert went to work with, not for, Woodbury, during his pro football days.
"I was never employed (by Woodbury)," Wiegert said. "While I was playing, I worked with them, learned the business from them. I'm an investment partner of theirs. I went to meetings and worked on projects and invested my own money. That's how I learned the business."
He worked on dozens of projects with Woodbury, the first ones at the University of Utah, a couple of research and lab buildings. Then medical office buildings near the biggest hospital in Utah. Then he worked at Hill Air Force Base on enhanced use leasing: Private developers take on a base project, build public and private space and share revenue with the Air Force.
It's similar to what's supposed to happen at the Veterans Administration property in Lincoln.
The Utah project was the largest between a private developer and the armed forces, Wiegert said.
"Back then we did a ton of retail buildings, too," he said.
After a dozen years in the NFL, Wiegert gave it up and went to work on more projects with Woodbury.
Obviously, he liked the business.
Wiegert said he needed something after football that offered daily variety.
"I work with architects, bankers, contractors, property owners. Every day is different," he said. "I guess my reasoning for wanting to get in it was looking at the people I knew who did it. Real estate is a fixed, real commodity. … I wanted to be one of those people who think of new ways to do things."
At the end of 2011, Wiegert and Woodbury made a deal with Tetrad Development Corp., led by W. David Scott of Omaha, and that created Scott-Woodbury-Wiegert. Tetrad is responsible for high-visibility projects like the new Blue Cross Centre in Omaha. Wiegert's father-in-law had office space with Tetrad for years. Wiegert had known David Scott for almost 20.
The partners' latest proposed project is back in the thick of the retail/commercial market of the West Haymarket, a quarter-block at Canopy and P streets, right near the property that helped cause the falling out with Will and Robert Scott.
Project Oscar is a $16.8 million, 80,000-square-foot office and retail complex south of the new arena.
Separately, Wiegert has Savoureux Corp., a company led by him and former Cornhusker football player Kris Brown, which announced in January an agreement with Dunkin' Donuts to develop 12 stores in Omaha, Sioux City and other cities in Nebraska and Iowa.
Meanwhile, work has started at Innovation Campus, the big dig of the local Woodbury-Scott-Wiegert projects. Workers are busy on the first phase of the 250-acre public-private research and technology park at the old state fairgrounds.
Nebraska Nova, part of Scott-Woodbury-Wiegert, is the private investor in the first phase, which includes work on 280,000 square feet of laboratory, greenhouse, conference and office space.
Wiegert said rehabilitation of the Industrial Arts Building would begin this month, and all four buildings are to be completed by spring 2014.
“It’s going full bore,” he said.
Wiegert lives in Waterloo with his wife, Amy, and two children, ages 9 and 7.
His summary of his aspirations as a business owner in Omaha and Lincoln: "I look at real estate as a really long-term commitment, one, " he said. "We want to be known as someone that builds projects that are good for the community for a long time, not merchant developers that want to sell. The big thing to us is morals and ethics in business."
"Two, we're a relationship company. We try to make sound decisions for people who trust us. We look at Innovation Campus, they trust us to do these things correctly.
"We're going to be partners for a long time, three. We want to have repeat customers because we went above expectations in what we delivered."
He is also keenly aware of what could come with too much success.
"I don't want to get to the point where we're a big fund or not evaluating the merits ourselves," Wiegert said. "You get too big, you have to do so many projects just to pay salaries. You don't want to do deals just to do deals; you want to do them for the right reason. I don't know where that's at. But if we get to that point, we wouldn't want to get any bigger."