By Tommy Rezac
Scott Frost engineered the quickest two-year turnaround of a program in FBS history, taking a Central Florida team from 0-12 in 2015 to a perfect 12-0 in 2017; the only FBS head coach to take a program from winless to undefeated in just two seasons.
On top of his many accomplishments during his two-year stint in Orlando, he’s a Nebraska native, a former national champion starting quarterback for the Huskers, and an accomplished assistant at three other programs.
In the eyes of Bill Moos, and in the eyes of an entire state, there was no better choice for the next man to lead Nebraska’s storied program back to its former glory.
“He is, in my opinion, not only the premier young coach in America, I believe he was everybody’s first choice, and I got the pick of the litter,” Moos said. “We got the pick of the litter. It’s a celebration for the University of Nebraska and for Husker football. Certainly a celebration of bringing one of our own home. A favorite son.”
Many believed the favorite son should have been called back at this time three years ago. Looking at it now, Frost knows there is no better time than now.
“I’m thrilled to be back because I think the time is right for this, and it wasn’t always that way,” Frost said. “I think the leadership is right, I think the time is right, I think this state is hungry for unity. I wasn’t considered for this job last time it came open, and I’m glad I wasn’t. I didn’t get a phone call the last time this job was open and I’m glad I didn’t. The pieces are in place now. I believe a lot in Bill, I believe in (NU president) Hank (Bounds) and (UNL Chancellor) Ronnie (Green), and I think this state is ready to see this place return to what it was.”
Nebraska hasn’t been “what it was” in quite awhile. It’s been 20 years since Frost was the man under center leading his team to its third national title in four seasons.
He probably never imagined the program slipping this far.
“When I was here under Coach Osborne, there was unity in purpose, and unity in belief, and unity of understanding and unity of support for this program, what it stood for, and what it was accomplishing,” Frost said. “This program needs that again, this state needs that again…from afar, it didn’t look like the Nebraska that I knew. There’s been, in my opinion, a lack of unity of focus about this place for a while, and if I can bring that back, that’ll be really rewarding.”
Frost has a unity of focus directly on him. He has the state’s attention, and its ears perked up for the first time in weeks.
This new, gushing hot spring of optimism isn’t going away any time soon.
Frost and his staff (which we still don’t know the full details on yet), extended six offers to highly touted prospects from across the country all before midnight Saturday night. Several more offers came Sunday morning.
The buzz and fan interest during spring football will be at a level it hasn’t been at in at least a decade
Still, fans have to remember, because some might be quick to forget; Nebraska’s not going to be 12-0 in 2018. The collateral damage of a 4-8 season will take some time to repair.
“We need to get to work in the weight room and on the field,” Frost said.”We’re going to practice hard and fast. I told the players today that everything we’re going to do is going to be difficult, but they’re going to have more fun than they’ve ever had.”
“Listen, we’re going to go faster than everyone else. Practices are going to be fast, meetings are going to be fast, it’s going to be a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to start building some of those same things here that have been with me over the past two years.”
UCF’s turnaround certainly was fast. Frost led a nation-best six-win improvement in 2016, taking the Golden Knights to a 6-6 season and a berth in the Cure Bowl, making him only the fourth coach in FBS history to make a bowl game with a team that was winless the previous season.
He’s also the only coach that was able to do that in the first season with a program.
Frost gave UCF its first ever undefeated regular season in 2017. Using Chip Kelly’s Oregon blueprint, UCF’s offense led the nation in scoring this past season at 49.4 points per contest.
All very fast. That’s how Frost operates.
“I made a decision about what I wanted to do, this is where I wanted to be, and I wanted to be home,” Frost said. “That’s the decision made, we’re going to go 100 miles an hour and full speed from here.”
Full steam ahead has to be the mindset this offseason when you look at some of the challenges on Nebraska’s 2018 schedule.
- Colorado, Sept. 8
- @ Michigan, Sept. 22
- @ Wisconsin, Oct. 6
- @ Northwestern, Oct. 13
- @ Ohio State, Nov. 3
- Michigan State, Nov. 17
- @ Iowa, Nov. 23
Frost’s high-powered option offense worked when he played at Nebraska in the 90s. It worked when he was Kelly’s offensive coordinator. It worked at Central Florida in the AAC. It’s not common practice in the Big Ten, but Frost doesn’t care.
“I’m hoping the Big Ten has to modify their system to us.”
Frost knows Nebraska. He understands it. He’s lived it. He’s seen the good and the bad. His appreciation for the fans’ passion and his blueprint for explosiveness on the field will unite a fan base Moos called “fractured and fragile” last week.
The fracture and fragility can only be repaired if all involved remember one simple virtue; patience.
“We’re not going to win every game that I coach here, and we’re going to lose a few,” Frost said. “We might make some mistakes, but I know that the people are going to be able to get behind what we’re doing here, because we’re going to do everything the right way and we’re going to do everything with the right moral compass, and we’re going to do everything in a way that’s going to make Nebraska proud.”
It took Tom Osborne 21 years to win a national title. He knows patience better than most.
“Be patient,” Osborne said. “You see this overwhelming euphoria that ‘Scott’s back and everything’s right.’ There’s going to be tough days. You’re not going to win every game. It’s going to take some time to build the culture the way it has to be built.”
You can contact Tommy at 402-840-5226, or you can follow him on Twitter @Tommy_KLIN.