Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Osborne Predicts Frost Will Be Coach of the Year

By Randy York

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A college football coach who does the right thing, competes the best he can and shows people how much he cares is definitely a diminishing breed.

Scott Frost lives, coaches and respects the right side of a program that brings integrity into that generic description, so there is nothing to fear, nothing to hide and no reason to feel guilty about anything.

How can you describe Nebraska’s new head football coach, who is so full of verve and vigor that he did not hesitate a second to push all the right buttons for the University of Central Florida, the institution he’s leaving?

Frost loves the college who gave him his second opportunity as a head coach. The University of Nebraska is, after all, his alma mater, just as it is for his mom and dad.

Talk about a powerful magnet to lure Scott, his wife and their new son to move back to Nebraska. 

College Football Hall of Fame Coach Tom Osborne recruited and tutored Frost after he left Stanford to help Nebraska win a 1997 National Championship with a 42-17 romp over Peyton Manning-led Tennessee in the Orange Bowl.

Osborne knows and understands why Frost has everything it takes to recruit, teach and compete at the NCAA’s highest level.

A legendary coach, who became Nebraska’s director of athletics after serving six years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Osborne was on the same page with administrators and athletic director Bill Moos in the hiring of Frost.

Like every other Nebraska fan in the country and around the world, Osborne is proud of UCF’s remarkable 13-0 season, the only Division I football program without a loss.

Count Osborne among those glued to their television sets when UCF upset No. 7 Auburn, 34-27, Monday in the Peach Bowl at Atlanta.

Tom Osborne and Wife Nancy Watched the Significant Upset by Themselves

Tom Osborne (above) and his wife Nancy watched the significant upset of Auburn by themselves.

Like all rabid football fans, Osborne knows why a No. 12-ranked 13-0 team – the only unbeaten one in Division I this season – creates such a buzz.

Two of Auburn’s decisive wins this season were against No. 3-ranked Georgia (40-17) and No. 4-ranked Alabama (26-14) in mid and late November. Auburn also came close to upsetting No. 2-ranked Clemson in a 14-6 loss.

“Strength of schedule is important, but it’s hard to ignore the major conferences overall,” said Osborne, who was on the inaugural College Football Playoff Selection Committee. 

“If you look at the overall quality of the team, you have to say that UCF certainly can play against most anybody in the country,” Osborne told me. “I would think that if you beat a team that beat Alabama and beat Georgia, there is certainly a good argument that UCF could go on and be part of the picture.”

The system, however, “pretty much favors the major conferences,” Osborne admits. “It’s hard to get there because of the overall strength of schedule. I don’t know whether that is right or wrong. It is just the way it’s built. If you went with the old system of voting, it certainly would be a possibility.”

Despite the atmosphere of an unlikely candidate in the midst of five major conferences, “It’s a remarkable accomplishment when any team can go undefeated,” Osborne said. “You’re battling long odds to do that. There is always something happening, whether it is an official’s call or whatever else might happen. It is just very, very hard to go unbeaten.”

Tom Osborne Believes Nebraska Benefits in Terms of the Exposure, Too

”To go 13-0 is remarkable, especially when you know where UCF was (winless) when they hired Scott,” Osborne pointed out “He took a team that was 0-and-12 to 13-and-0 two seasons later. That really is amazing and it certainly deserves credit.” 

In Osborne’s opinion, “UCF definitely made it happen, but I think Nebraska benefits in terms of the exposure, too,” he said. “What Scott, his staff and his players have accomplished certainly helps recruiting for both programs. I think the general mood of Nebraska fans is very positive, too. This gives both Nebraska and Central Florida a great start for next season. You would be lying if you did not think either program isn’t worth listening to or worth following.”

Inheriting a 0-12 team one year and accelerating the program to 6-6 just 12 months later is a major accomplishment in and of itself. Elevating that record to a 13-0 turnaround 12 months later is a monumental achievement.

The triumph was not a fluke. “Scott (above with Athletics Director Bill Moos) has done a tremendous job,” Osborne said. “He’s loyal to his staff and asked everyone to join him in Lincoln. That's very important. I've seen assistants have very good years that made a big difference getting where you want to be, and all of a sudden, they are abandoned.

“Scott’s loyalty to his staff shows good character, and I think he’s going to do things the right way,” Osborne said. “Having a 13-0 season is something very noteworthy and something that I would expect from Scott.”

Tom Osborne always has looked at college football through a different lens than the vast majority of coaches. If you follow Osborne’s ethical viewpoints when it comes to doing the right thing, remember how genuine he was to allow Bo Pelini to maintain his role as defensive coordinator when LSU beat Ohio State (38-24) in a BCS National Championship Game after Pelini had become Nebraska’s head coach in 2007.

If Osborne Were a Betting Man, He Would Pick Frost as Coach of the Year

“It all goes back to your value system,” Osborne said. “Some people think primarily about their own self-interest. I don’t think Scott is built that way. I think he is going to do the right thing. That’s just kind of the way he’s made.”

Positive traits become the foundation for success. “I thought it was going to be very hard for UCF to play Auburn,” Osborne said. “I just didn’t know if they could handle the physicality. But their linemen stood up and went toe-to-toe against a very good football team. Their defense stood up, too. When you do something like that, you really belong in the upper-echelon. I can imagine them being ranked in the top 4 or 5 in the country. I certainly hope they do because I think they belong.”

In the final AP poll, Osborne would not be surprised to see UCF get some No. 1 votes. “They are the only unbeaten team,” Osborne said, “and they beat a very good team to end the season. That’s the way the system is set.” There is, however, another way for the media and coaches to show their appreciation for an incredible 13-0 season two years after UCF was shooting blanks in a miserable 0-12 season.

“I’m not a betting man, but it would not surprise me if Scott received the Coach of the Year honor from his fellow coaches,” Osborne said. “He’s already won the other Coach of the Year awards. I just can’t imagine very many coaches who wouldn’t vote for Scott. They all know how difficult it was to do what he did. He has certainly earned the highest honor.”

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