Whether I’d like to admit it or not, the Nebraska Cornhuskers football program has been wandering out in the wilderness for two decades. It’s almost biblical, this trek through the desert of football mediocrity. 20 years! Not quite 40 years like Moses and the Israelites as written about in the Bible, but exactly half of that. As you have read in Exodus chapters 1-12, God’s people wandered the desert for 40 years after their exodus from being enslaved in Egypt. But now Scott Frost will play the part of Moses, as he has returned to lead the sons of his native state back to the Promised Land once again.
When Scott Frost left after the 1997 season after quarterbacking the Huskers to their 3rd National Championship in four seasons, so did one of the greatest coaches of all time, Tom Osborne. 25 years of football dominance (1973-’97) ended the night Scott Frost pleaded with the nation’s college football coaches to vote for “that great man” as #1 after Osborne hung up his red trowsers and headset after the last ballgame he ever coached.
Little did we know at the time, but Nebraska fans were headed for 20 often miserable years. Two full decades of hirings, firings, controversy, athletic department leadership changes, landscape changes, even a conference switch. Sure there were great times……the 1999 Big 12 Championship (a very underrated team in Nebraska annals), the Heisman Trophy won by Eric Crouch in 2001, the dominant “National Championship caliber” defense led by Ndamukong Suh in 2009, the “Team Jack” years with Rex Burkhead, Taylor “T-Magic” Martinez, and Bo Pelini, not to mention the Jordan Westerkamp “Hail Mary” in 2013.
But more often than not the last 20 years were filled with bitter disappointment. The Frank Solich years (1998-2003)……. Disappointment and sadness. The Callahan years (2004-07)…….. Anger! The Pelini years (2008-14)…….. mind-numbing blowouts! The Riley years (2015-17)…….. Reflection about what we had become. Fans were fighting on message boards about what was needed to get Nebraska back! Or could we ever get it back??? Even IF we could get Scott Frost to come home, would he?
The national media discounted the allure of Nebraska, as usual. Where have we seen this before? Uhhh, the entire 80s? One of the reasons I loved Nebraska growing up was I could see through this media driven total disrespect for the football as played in the Heartland. Those slow, white, farmboys can’t play with the fast, black athletes from Florida, Texas, and California. Remember all those type of thoughts and comments during the 7 game bowl losing streak from 1987-1993? Trust me, they were there. I heard them here in Illinois, here in Big Ten country. I STILL here it. Big Eight football played in the Great Plains just couldn’t compete with the SEC states. Those Nebraska boys just weren’t fast enough! You knew that current SEC bias didn’t start yesterday, right? It’s been going on for at least 30 years.
Once again this has become a theme. The national media discounted the fact that the nation’s hottest young coach would consider Nebraska when jobs were open at Florida, Tennessee, etc. “You can’t win at Nebraska. You can’t recruit there. You are dreaming if you think Frost would leave his sweet digs in Florida for Lincoln.” This is all we heard in October, November, and early December from the “experts” such as Kirk Herbstreit and the ESPN GameDay crew. But I kept thinking of that great old line delivered 60 years ago from Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant when he returned to the school where he played, his beloved Alabama, from Texas A&M in 1958: “Momma called……and when Momma calls, you just have to come runnin’.”
If “that great man” Coach Tom Osborne was involved, what do you think Scott would do? Seems obvious now, doesn’t it? So here we are…… Scott Frost returns after an amazing resume-building playing and coaching career since he left Lincoln. What will happen? I think we all know how this tenure will turn out. Frost will most certainly be successful.
But how successful? B1G West Championships? B1G Conference Championships? Rose Bowls? CFP Playoffs? National Championship appearances? National Championship Trophies???
Well, we don’t know for sure how successful. Only the ‘Football Gods’ know the truth. But we DO know he will bring incredible interest, pride, and toughness back to the program. He’s going to galvanize the fanbase, the university, the entire state of Nebraska and the Big Red Nation. He’s going to create a football team that the people can be proud of again. The sellout streak will surely continue, currently at 361 games (305-56) since it started in 1962.
You know how most coaches are “hired to be fired”? I don’t see that in this case. Frost will have every opportunity to be Nebraska’s head coach for as long as he desires (his initial contract is for 7 years). Unless something strange happens like a new AD replaces Bill Moos and that guy wants to make his own changes by forcing the issue, I see Frost writing his own contracts, so to speak.
Maybe Scott will have an incredible 25 years as Head Coach before a retirement ceremony. I think we’d all be ok if Scott and his family retired in 2042 or so. I know a great place…….beautiful Orlando, Florida. 😉
Like his hero and mentor Tom Osborne, I can see Scottie Frost never leaving Nebraska for another job. Osborne was from Hastings while Frost is from Wood River. He understands the job, the fans, the people. He knows how it was and will try with every fiber in his body to get it back to the way it was. Will Nebraska win 3 National Championships on his watch? Who knows! We can only hope. But what I think we do know is that he will bring back the pride and the unity that only Nebraskans can truly know and feel. “There’s No Place Like Nebraska!”
How will Coach Frost go about getting the Huskers back to the top? On top of the offensive and defensive schemes and everything else he’s learned through a myriad of mentors along the way, there are several things we can point to that Frost will emphasize immediately.
- Coach will increase the roster size upwards of 150 players. He’ll emphasize getting walk-ons, those Nebraska kids that have grown up with state pride, passed down from generation to generation. These kids have parents that remember the way it was, and they’ll proudly get their sons to re-energize the program, whether it’s as a scholarship recruit or as a walk-on.
- Coach Frost will practice the way he practiced under Coach Osborne. I’ve read that it was an incredibly organized practice with multiple stations. Everybody moves fast. I’ve heard it’s 4 offensive teams (11 players x 4 teams = 44 offensive players) vs 4 defensive teams at minimum. That’s 88 players going every other rep over two practice fields.
- He’ll get the boys to lift weights for new Strength Coach Zach Duval in the same way they used to under legendary Strength Coach Boyd Epley.
- There will be discipline and accountability. One small thing that new Athletic Director Bill Moos noted after firing Coach Mike Riley was the lack of cleanliness in the locker room and on the team plane. It might be a little thing to some people, but to me and Moos it’s a big thing. Let’s be organized. Let’s show we mean business. Pick up after yourself. Respect yourself, your teammates, your coaches, the support staff, and the program. Show some character. Moos even went so far as to say the players didn’t wear the uniform correctly. I know what he meant!
As Coach Frost said in his introductory press conference, on what it will take to get Nebraska back:
“I took a whole staff with me from Orlando, a group of guys who took an 0-12 team to 13-0. It’s a group of guys who care about players and have created a special culture there,” Frost said. “We’re going to do the same thing in Lincoln. There is a formula that has worked in Lincoln for 30 years and made Nebraska the best program in the country. I think some of those things Nebraska has been missing for awhile, and we’re anxious to start those things up and make Nebraska a powerhouse in football again.”
The thing I’ve always admired about Scott Frost was his incredible character, forged in the fires of the finest state in these great United States, by his parents who raised him in Lincoln and Wood River, and by Coach Osborne. When asked how he handled the two jobs at UCF and the transition to Nebraska at the same time, Coach Frost said in early January:
“I’ve turned the page now and I’m Big Red all the way. I’ve been Big Red my whole life and I’m excited to get Nebraska back where it should be, near or at the top of college football. It was challenging. Our staff wanted to do things the right way. We wanted to respect and honor the players who had worked for us all year and come back and help them win this football game, and now we’re ready to start recruiting and help Nebraska climb the ladder in college football.”
Accomplished. Frost and his staff helped UCF upset Auburn in the Peach Bowl. So far in Lincoln, they have already done some incredible recruiting in just two months time, moving the Huskers up to 21st in the national rankings. At the low point after Riley’s firing, Nebraska’s recruiting ranking fell down to somewhere in the 90s. From the 90s to the 20s in two months? I know…..simply incredible! Come to think of it, that’s ironic, no? From the “90s” (as in 1990s) to the “20s” (as in 2020s). Do you follow me? It’s kinda weird, right?
I for one, along with most Nebraskans, am excited, relieved, and ecstatic! It’s gonna be fantastic! So jump on the bandwagon now if you aren’t already. For you long-time Nebraska fans, celebrate with exuberance! This fulfills our dreams. Scott Frost is the man to lead us out of the wilderness and back to the Promised Land. Frost is our Moses. It was all God’s plan. Keep the faith and GBR!
So if you’re wondering if I’m pumped? Uh…… hell yeah! As Ric Flair would say, “Wooooooooooo!”