National Media Measures the Future of Frost
Now that Nebraska has a Spring Game to scrutinize and analyze and a football team to develop physically and emotionally in the next four months, we hit the pause button for an update – the who, what, where and why the national media measures the future of Scott Frost.
Last Saturday, I talked to three prominent national sports columnists in Nebraska’s press box before they watched, examined and wrote about the overall impact of Frost’s timely return to his alma mater.
My immediate take away was positive because seasoned college football writers know when to give credit. They also understand the complications of competition and the intensity of a team-oriented game.
USA Today columnist Paul Myerberg gets it. “For the last 20 years, Nebraska went from the penthouse to the apartment on the third floor,” Myerberg told me. “Some of that was self-inflicted and some Scott Frost would tell you was the inability that created it in the first place.
“Nebraska’s program is already moving in the right direction,” Myerberg emphasized. “I think people need to be both understanding and patient. That’s not too much to ask from where they’ve been.”
Let’s examine national college football columnists before fans envision an immediate turnaround in the win-loss category.
Six Wins and a Bowl Game Would Be Progress
“I would say if Scott’s coaching gets six wins this year and a bowl game, it would not be a parade, but it would be progress,” Myerberg said before adding that Frost understands Nebraska’s relentless pressure. “Scott reminded me when Nebraska went 11-2 in 1996 and it wasn’t good enough.”
CBS college football columnist Dennis Dodd agrees that miracles are in the minds of fans who forget how far Nebraska has fallen.“This is a transition year for Nebraska,” Dodd told me. “That’s the impression I got from Scott and his staff. In year two, you’ll see more of the vision they have. I don’t know how fast you can take Nebraska to 13-0 like Scott did at Central Florida.”
BTN columnist Tom Dienhart reminds reporters and fans that Bill Clinton was the president in 1999 when Nebraska won its last conference title. “That’s how long it was,” Dienhart told me. “We’ve gone through quite a few presidents since Nebraska won a championship, conference-wise or national-wise.”
With those viewpoints packaged together in Cliffs Note version, here's a deeper version of what all three national columnists shared with me last Saturday:
“When I sat down with Scott the other day, we had a talk. The topics were not necessarily about football. They were about how to speak and relate to people. Scott likes poetry and crossword puzzles and a variety of other interests that drive him forward but are non-related to football.
“Even if you remove Scott’s ties here, which are so obviously intense and meaningful, Nebraska has hired a guy who is confident enough to command what he wants to do to the point of having the same expectations he’s always had – winning a national championship.
“Scott has an offense that he knows works and not just what he coached in Oregon for several years. It has been consistently evolving and adapting and becoming something new.
“He has great connection, camaraderie and consistency with his staff. He had things going this way, that way and up-and-down. They’ve been somewhat aligned. This is the guy who would do it just because of all the knowledge it takes in X’s and O’s and all the ideas that he brings to the table.
“I’ve come to Lincoln for some games and most of the time, unfortunately, Nebraska has lost. At the same time, you can always sense there’s something about this place that kind of spans generations of a loyal fan base. It’s all about college football and college football history.
“Nebraska’s consecutive sellouts dating back to 1962 will never be broken.
“Scott always speaks to me about the people who mentored him along the way. At a relatively young age, he can look back at the sum of all of the parts. So much of it is about small-town population and what he grew up in.
“Some of it is about Bill Walsh at Stanford, about playing for Tom Osborne and about coaching at Oregon, Kansas State, Northern Iowa and UCF. He’s a combination from all that stuff," Myerberg said. "Not everyone can take everything they’ve learned and put it together like Scott Frost has. He’s effectively done very well.”
“Nebraska finally has a direction and asserted confidence. Scott Frost knows all the moving parts here and which way to go. For the first time in 19 years, Nebraska has an idea. Whatever followed Coach Osborne was not good enough. Nebraska now has a direction and is bringing a legend home.
“Scott knows Nebraska and knows he’s going to get it done," Dodd said. "When you talk to him, you know it’s not B.S. I hate to compare Scott with Jim Harbaugh, but that’s what Michigan had to do – bring someone home who understood the culture and what it takes to win. I have confidence that Scott is going to turn his alma mater around and get Nebraska back to what they were for a long time. I have absolute confidence Scott Frost is going to get it done.
“This is a transition year for Nebraska. That’s the impression I got from Scott and his staff. In year two, you’ll see more of the vision they have. I don’t know how fast you can take Nebraska to 13-0 like Scott did at Central Florida.
“You will see what Nebraska has with tempo on offense. You can do it in weather and what other teams do. They’ll do it better than a lot of teams. Everybody runs tempo now. Nebraska will be physical and will make it intimidating for other teams to come into this place again.
“We all know it hasn’t been that way in a while for Nebraska," Dodd said. "Scott Frost got here the good old-fashioned way. He was a grad assistant at K-State in 2006 before going to Northern Iowa. Then he runs into Chip Kelly in the halls of a Miami high school and develops a relationship. You know what happened there. Scott ended up coaching the Heisman Trophy winner and Oregon made it to the National Championship game.
“After Scott finally had a place to show his talent, the Nebraska job opens up at exactly at the right time – while he’s unbeaten in Orlando. I saw Scott in the summer of 2016 when he was at Central Florida. He had the exact same characteristics and he fulfilled everything he talked about.
“Scott told me that Nebraska never called him, but now was the time. It was perfect. With the way the administration and the program were, he could basically come home and save the program, and I think he will, especially with this division. Nebraska and Madison are both state capitols in sparsely populated states. Scott knows what that’s all about.”
“I’ve always said the passion of Nebraska even beyond football is amazing, whether it’s football, volleyball or baseball," Dienhart said. "Selling 90,000 tickets to a spring game speaks to the passion of the fan base and the excitement and anticipation that goes with it.
“Nebraska football amazes me. Twenty-one years ago, Scott led Nebraska to a national championship game and now he's come home.
“He led Nebraska to its fifth and last national championship team," Dienhart said. "Scott was the quarterback who led and lobbied Nebraska to a share of the national title with Michigan.
“He also had some great work as an offensive coordinator with Chip Kelly at Oregon.
“Obviously, his climb was very quick. Not only is he a proven guy with a sharp eye for the game, he understands Nebraska because he grew up here. He knows what the program means to the state and to the fans.
“Scott understands what it’s going to take to win. My best trivia is asking people when was the last time Nebraska won a conference championship?" Dienhart said. "The answer is 21 years ago and people are just amazed.
“I covered those teams in the 1990s. They could have had four national championships in a row. I covered Nebraska's last-second loss to Florida State in Miami. I was also in St. Louis when Nebraska lost to Texas in the Big 12 championship game. Nebraska was so close to sweeping all four of those games.
“Now that Scott’s coming home to Nebraska after working a miracle at the University of Central Florida, he’s a proven guy who knows how to motivate and knows how to lead.
“Think about Nebraska having four coaches between Tom Osborne and Scott Frost – Frank Solich, then Bill Callahan, then Bo Pelini, then Mike Riley and now Scott Frost.
“The good news is a national championship is going to happen again at some point in time," Dienhart said. "The Big Ten West is competitive, but it’s still kind of a steep hill to climb. I see Nebraska competing for that opportunity under Scott Frost. He’s going to do everything imaginable to get back to competing for a national championship.”
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