Scott Frost is coming home. Finally.
After a season to forget and weeks of rumor, innuendo, and insecurity, Nebraska finally has their man and he has a familiar face. And yet it is hard to believe we’re here. We’ve watched for weeks as smoke has poured forth from Orlando. We’ve heard of deals, anywhere from 5 to 7 years, $30 -40 million dollars (for what it’s worth, it appears to be 7 years, $35 million), so forth so on.
We’ve heard how Tom Osborne called Scott and like a Russian agent’s handler activated the sleeper cell with a simple request to come home.
We’ve watched with interest as Frost refused to commit to UCF beyond today’s championship. We celebrated as he turned down Florida.
He said everything but good bye to the Orlando press.
We watched all of this and, yet, we still we couldn’t believe that Frost would come home. We were sure after Fisher slinked to FSU, Oregon’s allure would be too much. We watched as Tennessee botched their hires, as UCLA nailed theirs, as Florida finally got around to hiring someone, as A&M overpaid for their head coach.
Who can blame us for thinking that Frost and his staff would stay in Orlando after UCF beat Memphis to bring home a championship after the improbable turnaround they facilitated. We’ve watched coaching hires happen at Nebraska before - why would this one turn out any different? We were prepared for disappointment.
Blissfully, we were wrong. Nebraska has landed one of the best up-and-coming coaches in the 2017 cycle. But can we blame ourselves for thinking we wouldn’t?
After 20 years of internal bickering yielding poor results on the field, this is hardly the Nebraska Scott left behind. A program which barely belongs on the same field as Wisconsin or Iowa, much less Ohio State or Miami or Alabama. A fan base fractured beyond repair. A roster on their third coach in four years. Why would you come home to this, we’d wonder? Why would you say no to Florida?
Well, in our first lesson from Scott Frost, it seems to be that going home still matters.
Scott Frost was born here. He was raised here. He knows this state, and perhaps most importantly, he knows that we’re hurting. That we’ve lost our way. That after years of seeking style over substance, of over-correcting for bad decisions with additional bad decisions, we need someone to come home and re-establish the house that Bob built.
Because make no mistake. Scott Frost may have played and starred for Tom Osborne, but Nebraska needs a Bob Devaney. They need a coach who can teach it that it is not inferior. We need a coach to teach how to win. A coach that can build the best damn program in the middle of the country. It’s fair to say that we’ve forgotten what it means to be a fan here, what it means to have fun being a football fan, what it means to build something. We’ve spent the last 20 years asking ourselves “what are we doing wrong” and “why aren’t we who we were”. We could argue it’s wrong to put that on Scott, but he knows what he’s signing up for. We’re fans. Irrationality and over-enthusiastic hype is our life-blood.
We know our history. We know that the last 20 years have not remotely gone how we’d expect. It has been 20 years of what-ifs and what-the-actual-fuck-are-we-doing. From Solich to Callahan to Pelini to Riley, no one really seemed to have the answer. We’ve heard of the backroom fighting over this program, of athletic directors asserting too much or too little oversight or influence. Of a university confused of its vision for football.
Meanwhile, Scott Frost has been working towards coming home since he was drafted in 1998. Frost’s journey home is straight out of a made-for-TV movie on the Hallmark channel. He left for the NFL where he played for such luminaries as Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Mike Sherman, Jon Gruden, and Monte Kiffin. He came home for a season to learn under Frank Solich, before leaving for Kansas State for a season under Ron Prince. He was hired to coach linebackers at Northern Iowa in 2007 and became their co-DC with current NDSU head coach Chris Klieman in 2008.
In 2009, he left to become the WR coach for offensive genius Chip Kelly, whose offense serves as the framework for Frost’s current offense. Frost served as Mark Helfrich’s offensive coordinator in 2013 and 2014 before taking the UCF job in 2015. In two seasons, he took a program which had been completely exhausted and effectively abandoned under George O’Leary to an undefeated season and a shot at a conference championship inside of two years. Frost built one of, if not the most, exciting offenses in the country in just two seasons. Let’s be clear: he took a team from 0 wins to a perfect season. Scott Frost is ready, y’all. (Even Salt Creek says let’s get frosty.)
He became a hot commodity right when his alma mater collapsed from the weight of 20 years of bad decisions and half-measures. Truly, all that remains at Nebraska, after decades of being the object of envy across the country, is its fans and their beloved sell-out streak. We stick together, in all kinds of weather, even if we’re effectively returning to Bill Jennings’ era football.
It’s too cliché to say it, but it’s absolutely true: Frost is coming home for perhaps his biggest challenge yet. To resurrect his alma mater to the blue blood status it carried during his time here. It truly is a script straight out of Hollywood and yet, here we are.
Frost knows this fan base. He knows that while our fans treat opposing teams with the greatest politeness known to man, we eat our own like wild animals in a famine. Frost knows our insane desire for competitiveness. He knows how important this program is to the state’s identity. Solich knew that history but couldn’t measure up or carry it forward. Callahan didn’t care to embrace it. Pelini seemed to be overwhelmed by history and expectation. And most recently, Coach Riley was a good coach who embraced our history, but he didn’t have his own history to establish that culture.
To his credit, Frost has lived that history, and maybe, just maybe, that will make the difference. He’s seen our best, and he knows our worst. He knows what we’ve lost. He comes from Small Town Nebraska, and maybe that identity matters. Maybe having an athletic director who understands the challenges, the insecurities that come with a state built by small towns and underdog cities, will matter. Scott Frost is the right coach, at the right time. Fate, destiny, and all of that doesn’t matter.
He’s coming home. You can breathe again. We have a football coach. Here’s hoping the weight of history rides easy on his shoulders. He must bring excitement and competitiveness to a program which frankly has lacked both on the field for a few seasons.
We should temper our expectations – there is work to be done at fixing the culture and development of this roster. We shouldn’t expect great things for a few seasons. But perhaps, maybe, that’s being unfair to Coach Frost. He knows what we’re asking for, what we’re begging for. He knows we’re irrational folks with big dreams for our hometown team.
Now’s the time to get excited about the potential. Think about Gebbia as a QB under Frost. JD Spielman in that offense. Hopefully some direction on the defense. Just potential, and if there’s anything we’ve gotten good at here at Nebraska, it’s dreaming about potential.
God-willing, we’ll never give up our dreams. And maybe, just maybe, we’ve finally found the coach to make those dreams real.
Welcome home, Scott. Sorry about the mess. Make sure you bring some duct tape and some super glue and let’s fix the house that Bob built.
It’s our home and we’ve been waiting for the right contractor for 20 years.
Go Big Red.
An introductory presser will take place tomorrow at noon in Lincoln. We’ll be here, basking in the dreams of the 1990s.
Official Release when we get it.
UCF says thank you:
Coach Frost is in tears as his players describe what he means to them. pic.twitter.com/KdcyDjnrrb— Ryan Bass (@Ry_Bass) December 2, 2017
Helluva ride, Coach ✊#ChargeOn pic.twitter.com/0lDv3n04iq— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) December 2, 2017