Nebraska’s senior quarterback Tanner Lee is transferring, and the Cornhuskers could contend in 2018. Their decision to hire Scott Frost early on also creates a window for them to compete with Oklahoma and West Virginia in 2020.
LINCOLN, NEBRASKA – At Nebraska, Scott Frost has yet to win a game. He is well aware of this. Trev Alberts, the athletic director, is well aware of this. That is something that everyone in Nebraska is aware of.
While a 15-27 record in four years would be enough to get a coach fired at almost any major college institution in the country, Nebraska takes pride in being different.
Frost isn’t like the rest of us, either.
So the announcement on Monday that Frost would be given another year with a modified deal was not entirely unexpected. To those in Lincoln, no.
That much was obvious again last Saturday, when the Cornhuskers faced their fourth top-10 opponent of the season. Several fans stated their wish to have Frost return for a fifth season in the hours leading up to the game, despite the team’s poor record.
“He’s a national championship quarterback, he’s a Nebraska man, just like Jim Harbaugh over there at Michigan,” Darron Mapes said as he stood near the Tom Osborne monument outside Memorial Stadium, wearing a “In Frost We Trust” helmet. “It just takes time to have the appropriate people, culture, and players in place. I simply can’t think of anybody else who would be Nebraska. Frost is the state of Nebraska.”
Jay Lamontagne took his 4-year-old son, Cayden, to his first Nebraska game inside the stadium. Cayden held up a placard that said, “Win this one for FROST,” as they sat just beyond the end zone.
Jay Lamontagne said, “He needs more time.” “If you give him a few more years, he’ll figure it out. He’s worked it out in every other place he’s been in his life. This isn’t going to change any time soon.”
Nebraska accomplished enough on the field against Ohio State to build optimism, as they have done in every game this season. However, some of the same flaws arose again, including special teams miscues, dubious playcalling, and an inability to find any offensive rhythm, and the outcome was the same.
Another narrow defeat.
Nebraska has lost all seven of its games by single digits, which is the worst in the FBS, and there are two ways to look at it. Regardless of how you look at it, Frost maintained after the game that Nebraska was close, as he has in practically every previous devastating defeat.
Frost stated, “I detest losing more than anybody in that locker room.” “I really like being the coach here. I adore these youngsters. They’ve been through a lot in their lives. This is going to be a big deal in Nebraska. It is what it is. We’re doing far too many things correctly.”
“I really like being the coach here. I adore these youngsters. They’ve been through a lot in their lives. This is going to be a big deal in Nebraska. It is what it is. We’re doing far too many things correctly.” Frost, Scott
Consider it from the perspective of some irritated Nebraska fans: Frost has been on the job for four years and hasn’t accomplished anything. There have been no appearances in the Super Bowl. Time and over, the same errors are made. Why should anybody anticipate anything different while he is in charge?
In a statement released Monday, Alberts said that he had observed “incremental development,” which was a factor in the decision to bring Frost back. The fact is that it has been clear when Frost took over at Nebraska in 2017 that he would be given whatever coach needed to bring the program back to contending for championships.
His success at UCF, where he went 13-0 in 2017, was the icing on the cake for what made him the greatest candidate: he’s a Nebraska native, a Nebraska graduate, a Nebraska national champion, and an Osborne disciple. Frost anticipated he’d receive a call from Osborne at some time during that UCF season. He was well aware of how tough it would be to win at Nebraska, which would be significantly more difficult than it had been while he was a player there due to a changing college scene and conference realignment.
He also knew he wouldn’t be able to refuse it.
Nebraska has made a financial investment in Frost, but it is also emotionally committed in making this appointment succeed. While the administration and fan base had grown tired of dismissing coaches every three years just to start over in a deeper financial hole due to massive buyouts, this hiring would be the final litmus test for the program’s stumbling blocks.
What would it imply for the Nebraska program if the ideal candidate to take over the program failed?
Frost recognized that the club he inherited required a lot of work and that becoming a regular winner would take time. But he also learnt some difficult lessons along the road, which he will need to implement in Year 5. In the Big Ten, the offense he ran at UCF will just not work.
Go all-access with UCF football as new head coach Gus Malzahn and the Knights prepare for the 2021 college football season with the hopes of cementing the program’s status as one of the best in the nation. ESPN+ has a live stream available.
Though there has been a recent adjustment in offensive strategy, there is still work to be done to get Nebraska playing at the level it requires in a league dominated by teams with an established winning formula. It goes without saying that dismissing four offensive coaches on Monday, including offensive coordinator Matt Lubick, was a foregone conclusion as part of a much-needed shake-up.
Alberts revealed this in a sit-down interview with ESPN earlier this month.
“Scott has progressed,” Alberts said. “There are things he’s doing now that are more representative of the Big Ten reality.” It doesn’t take long to walk across the Big Ten and say, ‘The way Iowa plays, they minimize possessions and make the game shorter.’ I believe he has adjusted, and I believe this is one of the reasons the Big Ten is so powerful. It keeps you responsible for your accomplishment since Big Ten success follows a certain pattern.
“The most difficult aspect of the Big Ten is that, although everyone has resources and is devoted — Indiana, Purdue, Northwestern — the difficulty, which has highlighted our faults, is that the margins are so small that turnovers, field position, and hidden yardage are compounded. I’m always practicing. Scott and his team are putting a lot of effort into those areas, and we’re making progress, but it may not be the culture that came from UCF since things are different there. We’re scoring every fourth play because the field is wide open. Right here in the Big Ten, you’ll find some of the top college football coaches in the country. That’s the situation Scott and his team are in.”
Frost operated the spread system at Oregon and later at UCF, but there are option concepts in place that enable the run game to thrive. Nebraska doesn’t have to go all-in on the triple option, but it does need to find a way to put together a strong offensive line and a dual-threat quarterback who can outperform current starter Adrian Martinez.
Frost’s fortunes have been intertwined with Martinez’s in various ways. Frost poured his heart and soul into making Martinez a success. Martinez has played through many ailments this season, including a fractured jaw, and his tenacity and resilience are unquestionable. But his inexcusable errors have just added to Nebraska’s woes.
In his four years as Nebraska’s quarterback, Adrian Martinez has passed for 8,140 yards, 44 touchdowns, and 28 interceptions. Rebecca S. Gratz/Associated Press
Under the direction of coach Erik Chinander, the defense has developed into a fierce squad deserving of the Blackshirts’ moniker. Every game this season, that group has given the Cornhuskers a shot to win. With a comparable offensive, Nebraska would have a better-than-average chance of going over the hump and converting close losses into victories.
Is it feasible given the looming deadlines for next year? Frost doesn’t have much of a choice in the matter. With the surety of at least another year, he may recruit the next month with the confidence he requires. He has no choice but to do so in order to improve his class. Expect him to include the transfer portal in his plans as well.
The Nebraska players have not given up, as Alberts said in his statement on Monday. “The young men in our program have stayed together and showed incredible tenacity, which is a testament to Coach Frost’s and his staff’s leadership.”
Frost told ESPN in a quiet moment after the Ohio State game that he was as certain as ever that he would finish the job. He had a steely resolve in his eyes, as if the difficulties of the previous four years would drive him to strive even harder to restore Nebraska to its rightful place among the people of Big Red Nation.
Frost is the same coach that guided UCF to a perfect season last year. At Nebraska, though, the expectations are different. It’s a unique tournament. There is a difference in the pressure. His every move is examined and questioned. But, as the presumed conquering hero, he’ll be expected to bring championships back to a nation that craves them.
“We put our faith in Frost.”
Nebraska is still hopeful.
However, time is running out.