Yesterday, weeks of speculation culminated in the Nebraska Cornhuskers officially announcing Scott Frost as the new head coach. There are some details that need to be ironed out, but since we have three Nebraska fans on staff here at Off Tackle Empire, we thought it would be appropriate to give some initial thoughts on what this hire means.
Jesse: It’s probably good to get this out of the way. I did not want Scott Frost three years ago. Call it a bad decision, call it getting burned by first time coaches, and maybe call it right, but after the failure of the Mike Riley hire, we’re here.
Scott Frost easily has some of the most iconic moments in Nebraska football history, and I’d be lying if I wasn’t just a little excited suddenly for the storybook ending that could happen here if Nebraska gets back to some semblance of greatness. The problem - as always - is that there needs to be patience no matter what. Nebraska is a deeply flawed team and Frost is not going to solve all of the problems
So today we welcome in Scott Frost, get a little bit hopeful for what tomorrow may bring, and start keeping an eye on what recruits Frost and Co. feel they need to be successful. It will be a really fascinating few months.
BigRedTwice: I really didn’t think this would actually happen. Granted, I have never in my life been accused of being an optimist, so this isn’t totally surprising, but my gut feeling was that Frost’s intimate acquaintance with the, uh, laser focus occasionally possessed by our fanbase might deter him from taking the job. I figured this was either a dream job for him, or it was not—there was no other reason he’d consider it. As it turns out, apparently coming home to Nebraska was the dream for him.
And truth be told, I’m really happy about that. Even halfway through this season, I was on the fence about what Nebraska’s next chapter should be. I frowned my scariest frown at the frat bros selling Frost-themed t-shirts in the North Bottoms before the Ohio State game. The local media and significant swaths of the fanbase, it must be said, acted fairly embarrassingly throughout the season (though in light of the recent clusterVol down in Knoxville, I should really count my blessings), enacting a live-action, clumsy simile of a high school romance where one party is totally into another and super, duper bad at hiding it, causing all around to cringe in embarrassment.
In the end though, Frost apparently decided that she was all that, and returned to his alma mater. (You’re welcome for the late 90s movie reference in there, made specifically so that your 90s/Nebraska jokes can trip lightly off your fingertips). Part of me is still terrified at how badly awry this could go—if this relationship sours, it’s going to be all the more uncomfortable for everyone involved (see: Harbaugh, Jim and the Michigan fanbase). I’d just really hate to see that happen—you have to have a thick skin to coach college football, but having your alma mater’s fanbase turn on you, I think, would be a tough thing for anyone.
For now though, it’s the honeymoon, and all is well in Huskerland. I’m excited to see what Frost can do, and I think it’s perhaps just what the doctor ordered for the program to have a fresh young coaching hire that’s going to make some waves right away. It’s pretty nice to hear Nebraska’s name in conjunction with something exciting and positive instead of for getting trounced by a 4-7 B1G West team. I just know that this isn’t a fanbase known for its patience, and that scares me a little. But I guess I’m just going to enjoy the next few months, and hope that this is a right fit for both coach and team.
Dead Read: The return of Scott Frost is the best thing that could happen to Nebraska football. It will resolve a Nebraska identity question one way or another. Is the old Nebraska approach an evergreen approach to college football? Or, are those days gone forever and should the Nebraska faithful resign themselves to fallen giant status? The Scott Frost era will provide an answer.
One of the great strengths of Nebraska football was a sense of continuity that flowed from Bob Devaney’s arrival in 1962 through the last Frank Solich season in 2003. There were coaches that followed Devaney from Wyoming that coached well into Osborne’s tenure. Frank Solich played for Devaney. Osborne had virtually no coaching “tree” because if you were good enough, you never left.
That changed with the firing of Solich. Bill Callahan (He Who Should Not Be Named) ripped a fissure through the Nebraska football continuum. Connections to the past were jettisoned. West coast offense? Really? Everything from a tradition of power football, the focus on player development, and the walk-on tradition were cast aside so as not to “drift toward mediocrity.” The cure was worse than the disease. We’ve all seen Nebraska football over the last fifteen years. Paper tiger is too flattering a term.
Scott Frost is the ideal person to bridge the travails of this century, to reach back to the fabled past and reclaim an identity. He was coached by Osborne and Solich. He led the last Cornhusker national championship team, when he implored the media to send his coach into retirement with a championship. He has been coached by or coached with Bill Walsh, Tom Osborne, Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, and Chip Kelly. He has coached on both sides of the ball. In his first head coaching gig, he turned a winless team into an undefeated conference champion in two years. His parents were Nebraska athletes (Football and Track an Field). Both parents coached high school football in the state (yes, his mom too). He is of this place. He is good at what he does. He has Osborne’s stamp of approval.
Does any of this guarantee a radiant football future? Of course not. But it does indicate that Frost is uniquely positioned to maximize the program. I hope he brings my beloved Big Red back to the place where we had become accustomed. Give him some time. I hope we again push people around. I hope we can find a defense that can call itself “Blackshirts” without a hint of irony. I hope for lots of things.
But first, I wish him luck. I wish him well.