SB Nation is doing “What if” week. There were so many that came to mind, but the one that I think would have made Husker football much different than it is today is if the Flea Kicker didn’t happen. What if the ball fell to the turf instead of getting scooped up by Matt Davison?
Setting the Scene
The year is 1997. The Nebraska football team had suffered through the indignity of losing not one, but two games in 1996 and NOT winning a national championship.
Nebraska’s new quarterback in 1996 took a lot of heat for those losses. He had spurned his homestate university to head west to Stanford. He transferred back to Nebraska to take over after Tommie Frazier graduated, but Husker fans were still suspicious. They were suspicious to the point that the golden-haired prodigal son had even been booed early in the 1997 season.
On November 8, 1997, the Huskers were in a tussle with the Missouri Tigers. #1 Nebraska’s unbeaten season was on the line. The Huskers were down 38-31 but the offense had the ball and was driving. On third down, with just seconds left in the game, Frost threw a pass to Shevin Wiggons. Wiggins couldn’t control the ball and as it fell, he stuck a foot out and managed to kick the ball in the air. A diving Matt Davison scooped the ball in the end zone.
The touchdown and extra point tied the game and sent it into overtime where Nebraska won on a Scott Frost touchdown run.
BUT - WHAT IF THE FLEA KICKER DIDN’T HAPPEN? WHAT IF NEBRASKA LOSES THAT GAME?
- Obviously, the Huskers lose their #1 ranking. Given that they shared the 1997 national title with Michigan, it seems unlikely they recover from a late season loss to get the coach’s vote for the natty.
- Without a national championship, Scott Frost becomes “the guy that couldn’t fill Tommie Frazier’s shoes”. Husker fans regard him with contempt because he lost three games as a starter (in addition to spurning Nebraska for Stanford originally).
- Dr. Tom doesn’t get his third national title. He is still regarded as a legend, but not quite with the same veneration reserved for those who go out on top.
- Scott Frost still goes on to become a rising star in the coaching ranks. He never really gets over being booed and never forgets how he was treated as Nebraska’s starting QB.
- Nebraska fans’ feelings soften a bit over time, but they still don’t regard Frost as a “winner” despite his rise as a coach.
- Mike Riley still gets fired in 2017, but Scott Frost doesn’t feel any need to leave the winning program he built at Central Florida and return to the fish bowl that is Nebraska football. He’s waiting for an offer from a program that can win right away.
SCOTT FROST IS NOT COMING BACK TO NEBRASKA AFTER MIKE RILEY IS FIRED. WHO DOES BILL MOOS TAP TO BE THE HUSKER HEAD COACH?
If Nebraska doesn’t have a chance at hiring Scott Frost in 2017 - who does Bill Moos call instead?
This poll is closed
Of course! The dread pirate Mike Leach
He rescues Matt Campbell from Iowa State
If anyone can get Gary Patterson away from TCU, it’s the Moos!
Let’s think the unconventional route - Ken Niumatalolo (Navy)
Return to the Youngstown Mafia - Mark Stoops
Justin Fuente was 2016 ACC coach of the year
Houston Nutt was still on the office speed dial
Bill Moos had a dream that any coach who shook hands with Sean McVay would be in demand and jumped on the Zac Taylor bandwagon early
When in doubt, hire the fullback’s dad - Les Miles, come on down!!
Peyton Manning remembers the ‘97 Huskers, and he’s retired now, so....
Someone else (tell us in the comments)