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The “Should Scott Frost Be Fired?” Report Card: Grading The Arguments For and Against Scott Frost Keeping His Job

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There are some weak arguments on both sides of this debate. There are also some strong ones. Here are my grades for which arguments I find the most persuasive.

Purdue v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

After the five point loss to the Purdue Boilermakers last Saturday there were immediate comments from my friends and some of the people I tend to see on twitter. Those comments were almost all negative. This was especially true regarding the nature of whether Scott Frost should be fired at the end of the season.

It has now been five days since that gut punching loss and the conversations have turned from entirely negative to more of a debate among the Husker faithful.

Debates are fun. Though some of the same arguments continue to pop up.

So below I have listed ten arguments I have seen which are “For Frost” and ten arguments which are “Against Frost.” This is obviously not an exhaustive list.

Then I grade them each in terms of how persuasive those arguments are to me.

So here we go.


Grades: Arguments For Frost

One: He Inherited a Mess From Mike Riley

This is true.

It also stopped mattering after 2020. This is the fourth year of Scott Frost’s tenure and this should absolutely be considered a roster of “his players.” If there were Mike Riley players that they no longer wanted on the roster then they would have found a way to persuade them otherwise.

Grade: D

Two: Who would come to Nebraska if we fire Frost?

Somebody. If you look around the country at blue-blood programs or borderline blue-blood programs you will see many unhappy fanbases who want to fire their coach. And in almost none of those cases have they given that coach a fifth year after going 15-26 through 41 games.

Look at USC, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Oklahoma (seriously, look at those message boards), Texas (just wait for it) among many others.

Nebraska also has the ability to pay a coach five million or more. If they are in the running for a “name” coach then they might have to bump up that pay check. I think the culture surrounding college football coaching is leaning more towards simply playing in a big conference and collecting that big check.

Nebraska can do both.

Grade: F

Three: The COVID year really hurt a program reliant on getting kids on campus.

Getting recruits on campus is important for every school in terms of recruiting. However, the level of importance is at a different level when it comes to a school like Nebraska. The local population base simply can’t get Nebraska to where it wants to be by itself.

So the football coaches need to get kids on campus so they can see that Lincoln not only has more than one stoplight but it isn’t full of corn fields. In fact, the traffic is terrible and it is only getting worse as it continues to expand (but that’s here nor there).

This upcoming 2021 recruiting class is going to be weak. They may say that it is weak because they are trying to control the scholarship numbers but we also know it’s because they have lost 26 games in four seasons. So it is harder to get kids to commit to your class, even when you haven’t had enough success, when they are not allowed to step foot on campus (officially).

Grade: C

Four: Lack of Athletic Department leadership left Frost to fend for himself.

I always find it interesting that after somebody like Bill Moos leaves his job, for whatever reason, that all of these stories and rumors start coming out.

Like, how Moos was almost simply a figure head and was rarely in his office. He spent just about as much time in Montana as he did in Lincoln. Frost was left to deal with issues like Maurice Washington on his own according to some reports.

So instead of dealing with actual football, Frost was forced to deal with outside distractions that could have otherwise been alleviated by some leadership. Don’t you think things would have gone differently if Trev Alberts was in that Athletic Director chair in 2019?

That is only one example.

With that said however, it is still the responsibility of Scott Frost to get his football team ready to play football games and obviously it did not happen often enough.

Grade: B-

Five: The physical development throughout the program has been obvious.

We all know about the comment by Scott Frost following the Iowa game in 2018. He was taken aback by the size difference on the offensive and defensive lines of Nebraska compared to Iowa.

They set out to address that fact and it has happened. If you are looking at development in a football program then look at Nebraska. They still aren’t where they need to be but Scott Frost has made impressive strides in that department.

It would only be expected with Zach Duval, who Frost hired, that the physical development continues to be a part of this program going forward.

Unfortunately, in year four it isn’t the physical side of the ball that is resulting in losses.

Grade: B

Six: The offensive line is extremely talented and extremely young.

Both true. However, why is it that we are at year four and we are depending on such a youthful offensive line? As Frost has said, that you want to get old and then stay old. Well is it going to take until year six that Nebraska is finally “old” on the offensive line?

I heard that the offensive line scheme is extremely complex. If that isn’t true then let me know. This could be a result of Greg Austin having played for Bill Callahan who is considered one of the best offensive line coaches in the NFL. However, his scheme might be meant more for NFL players rather than college football players.

If the scheme is really complex then it makes sense that you have a center who had the yips when it came to snapping the ball last year and struggles with false starts for the first half of this season.

The pass blocking is not great at the tackle spots and that could be directly related to their overall youth.

Extremely talented and extremely young would be persuasive if it was year two.

Grade: D-

Seven: Frost made a course correction after the first two seasons and they are still in the middle of that correction.

I would love to have been a fly on the wall after the 2019 season but I have a feeling that Frost and Co. realized that the way they were doing things was not going to work in the Big Ten.

Well even leading up to this season there were comments from Greg Austin about how practices have slowed down and they have focused more on the smaller things.

You can even see the difference in the type of players they started to recruit, particularly on offense.

The wide receivers are definitely bigger and I think they may be even looking at a different type of quarterback. Heinrich Haarberg and incoming (hopefully) Richard Torres. They are taller quarterbacks who are better throwers than they are runners.

This is different when comparing quarterbacks like Adrian Martinez, Luke McCaffrey and Logan Smothers.

The defensive coaching staff is building it right. The offensive staff is behind but on their way.

More of an emphasis on special teams has also been notable. I do find it hard to put blame on a head coach when kicking specialists make mistakes. This is particularly true when one kicker was the conferences best kicker the year before. Also when it comes to punting, a power five team should be able to expect a punter to punt to the right side of the field and not the left when that direction is called.

However, while they have made a course correction that still doesn’t excuse how some bone-headed mistakes are continuing to be made and that includes some of the offensive play calling which I’m sure we will get to at some point.

Grade: A-

Eight: Nebraska losing to Michigan State, Michigan and Oklahoma by 13 combined points is an indicator of progress.

As of the date of this article, as far as College Football Playoff Rankings go, Michigan State is ranked third, Oklahoma is eighth and Michigan is seventh.

Not that we have to remind ourselves, but if Daniel Ceri punts it to the right like he was supposed to then Nebraska beats what is now considered the number three team in the country. If Connor Culp makes his field goals and extra points then Nebraska very likely beats Oklahoma.

Of course in the end it doesn’t matter because those are all three losses. However, when you are trying to gauge whether to making a coaching move or not, then I think being extremely close to beating three Top 10 teams is important.

Four years ago Nebraska would likely have lost to these teams by 20-30 points.

The flip side of this unfortunate coin is that this team has lost to Illinois, Purdue and Minnesota.

Grade: A

Nine: Nebraska will have finished the season playing five games against teams that at one point or another were in the top five and nine of the 12 games were/was against a team that was ranked in the Top 25.

This is the strength of schedule argument. Nebraska happened to have an extremely difficult schedule in 2020 as expected before the season even started. Then it took a life of its own as the Big Ten is having a really good season at this point.

Scott Frost is paid a lot of money to get Nebraska back to a point that they are winning these games. That isn’t happening, but as stated above he has pulled that program closer and closer to that point.

With that said, if he finishes the season 3-9 then it makes it less persuasive. That’s why you cannot lose games to Illinois, Purdue and Minnesota.

Grade: B

Ten: Eric Chinander and his fellow defensive coaches have done a great job developing defensive players.

It is clear that Chinander and his staff have done a great job getting this defense ready to play. A lot can be said about these players playing under the same scheme for four straight season. Consistency matters and we have seen that with Nebraska on defense.

However, Frost is an offensive coach and that’s the identity of his program at this point.

It’s hard to give Frost a ton of credit for the success of the defense but he did bring these guys along for the ride and hired Tony Tuioti who has turned about to be a great hire. Frost should get credit for that.

Grade: C+

Grades: Arguments Against Frost

One: Frost is 5-18 on possession games while at Nebraska.

This is a sword that cuts two ways. Would you rather lose by 16+ in these games or lose by eight points or less? It’s a loss either way but it does state two different things. First, particularly against better competition is that Frost has been able to keep his team in games or even ahead throughout the game. Second, it shows an inability to make plays when it actually matters. Sometimes it is dropping a punt. Other times it’s two or three gaffes by the offensive line. Or it could be a game ending interception.

While it appears to show a lack of focus or poor four-minute or two-minute offensive systems. It also shows that Frost has his team in games, like this year, against three top 10 teams.

While it hurts all the more, and the fact that some of the one score games are in garbage time, I would rather have them in the game at the end than looking at losing by 20 points.

Grade: C+

Two: Frost is 1-3 against Minnesota and Purdue and 2-2 against Illinois and 0-3 against Wisconsin and Iowa (soon to be 0-4?).

Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald said that it is obvious that these divisional foes have obviously figured out how to beat Nebraska. Just hold on to the possession of the ball and let Nebraska implode. It appears to be working.

There should be no reason that Nebraska should be in a place in year four that they should look at their upcoming schedule and be able to pencil in wins against Purdue, Illinois and Northwestern on a yearly basis. P.J. Fleck is doing good things with Minnesota so maybe it shouldn’t be considered an automatic win but they should beat Minnesota more times than not.

Still losing to Iowa and Wisconsin can be understood from what he inherited. This is especially true since it appears that both of those programs have only gotten better since Frost started coaching Nebraska.

Even with that said, not only has Frost struggled against these lower tier divisional foes but he’s been getting his butt beat.

Grade: A

Three: Frost is 15-26 overall. Other coaches with that record include...

While the above argument has a lot to do with with his overall record, I find that comparing other coaches with similar or like records does almost nothing for me.

It really is comparing apples to oranges in my mind. One coach could have walked into a program that was in the trash. Another could have inherited an extremely talented roster. Another could have taken the job of a ticking time bomb for any various of reason.

Without context, the statement of his overall record does nothing for me.

Grade: D-

Four: Frost’s offensive play calling really leaves one to wonder if there is a meaning to life.

Do we look to Nebraska’s offensive play calling for an answer to the meaning of life? No, of course not. We look to Big Ten officials to answer questions such as that.

Anyways, back to play calling.

I don’t think that Frost is by himself when it comes to bewildering play calling. I think it is an epidemic throughout football. There are plays that are working. Then these play callers go away from it because it’s not a part of the script. Or they go away from plays that work because there are “other plays to get to.”

What?

Remember what Wisconsin did to Nebraska in the Big 10 Championship game in 2012 to the tune of 70-31? Jet sweep. Jet sweep. Jet sweep. Over and over again because there was nothing Nebraska could do to stop it.

They didn’t throw in a jet sweep and then go “well that worked really well. Maybe I’ll make a note and get back to it when we play them next year.”

I am sure there is a rhyme or reason to why this happens but against Purdue, Nebraska had more success than any other team this season when it came to running the ball. Then they completely went away form the running game.

It isn’t just Frost, but sometimes offensive play calling at both the NFL and college level is really fickle.

Grade: C

Five: His offense doesn’t allow the best players to get on the field consistently.

You’ve heard it again and again. “Why is ________ playing and not _________.”

Is the offense too complex? Are the players not practicing well enough? Are they not healthy? Why is Brody Belt starting the football game when we haven’t seen him all season on the offensive side of the ball?

You know, the normal stuff.

Frost and Lubick always have reasons why certain players are getting on the field and not others. It appears to come down to trust.

Does the coaching staff trust you to do your job?

When the best players (Omar Manning, Zavier Betts and I would add Alante Brown) are on the field then the offense just looks different. I’m sure the coaching staff has their reasons. Like when fans were calling for Jaquez Yant. We later found out that Yant came into fall practice 25 pounds over weight.

So there are reasons.

Still it makes you wonder what can happen to make sure those players are the most consistently out there.

Grade: B-

Six: Lack of quarterback development in four years.

This is it for me. This is my number one frustration. Scott Frost and the coaching staff came in with one of the highest scoring offenses in the country. Not only have they not replicated that in the Big Ten but they are one of the lowest scoring teams in the conference.

It generally starts and ends with Adrian Martinez. When he’s healthy, he is one of the best quarterbacks in the country. When he’s hurt, which has happened every single year, then he is a shell of himself. He depends upon his athleticism. So a coaching staff should have somebody to turn to when Adrian is struggling right?

Enter “the future” when it comes to being the next quarterback at Nebraska. His name is also Luke McCaffrey. Ever since day one when I saw him at quarterback I thought he looked like a running back in the wildcat. Then in 2020 we got to see him get a good chunk of playing time and it was not good. He transfers twice in the same off-season and now is the back-up quarterback at Rice.

Does this staff have a good eye for quarterbacks? So they bring in Logan Smothers who has spent two years in the program and for whatever reason is still not a better option than the apparent M.A.S.H. unit that is Adrian Martinez.

It was apparent after the game on Saturday that they never considered putting in Smothers who for all intents and purposes appears to be healthy

Frost said that Smothers knows the playbook really well and can make all the throws. Then why can’t you go to him? Your hobbled starting quarterback threw four interceptions (at least one was not his fault) and you lost another one score game because of it.

We should never question Martinez’s toughness. He apparently is playing with a wire jaw and cannot even chew food at this time. Not including an ankle injury and that’s just what we know of at this point. Sean Callahan said this on the HuskerOnline podcast.

So we are in year four and Scott Frost cannot trot out a quarterback who can play competent football to backup an injured starter? There are teams in this conference that seem to have two or three quarterbacks to choose from. What in the world...

Grade: A

Seven: The state of the offensive line in year four.

I touched on this above so I won’t put much here but Nebraska should not be “young” at the offensive line in year four. They shouldn’t be relying on freshmen to come in and start.

But that’s where they are at.

Grade: B+

Eight: If his name was Joe Schmoe instead of Scott Frost then he would already be fired.

You are right. If Joe Schmoe came in and had 15-26 record overall then he would be fired.

Which is why we should be thanking our lucky stars that Scott Frost is not Joe Schmoe. Frost may still be justifiably fired at this end of the season but the hesitancy to give him a longer leash is good for the football program.

The program has shown progress in many areas, There are reasons to believe it could continue if things finally start bouncing in Nebraska’s direction next season. The schedule will be dramatically easier (go look at it) and maybe it will give Frost a chance to breath.

However, the final games of this season may be terribly bad for Frost and may leave Alberts no choice but to make a move.

Regardless, I’m glad Nebraska is giving Scott Frost a longer leash they would not have given Joe Schmoe. Maybe it will given this program a chance instead of “starting over.”

Grade: C

Nine: Frost’s boom or bust offense does not work in the Big Ten.

Well it doesn’t work unless you’re Ohio State.

We have already seen what Big Ten teams will do if you rely on big plays to score touchdowns. They give everything in front of them and then play keep away when they have the ball.

This is an adjustment that Frost has made though I think he could use the passing game as an extension of the run game on a more consistent basis. Some of his passing schemes have been compared to Mike Martz. For those of you who don’t know, that means the quarterback needs to sit in the pocket for a long time in order for the scheme to work.

That isn’t possible at this point with this offensive line.

While some adjustments have been made as you see the speed at which Nebraska’s offense goes has slowed down considerably, I think there are more things they can do to help themselves out in this conference.

Grade: C+

Ten: The special teams blunders from day one shows lack of focus on small details.

I don’t need to go into this at all. The special teams during Frost’s tenure has been abysmal. Remember in 2019 when they used like six different kickers?

Prior to this year the kickoff and punt coverage (no I will not give you Michigan State) has been abysmal.

The use of an analyst to “coach” special teams didn’t work.

It looks to me like Frost was a coach that was so confident in his offense that he didn’t need to spend the needed time on special teams.

It shouldn’t lose you games but it definitely has at Nebraska.

Grade: B


Well if anything I hope this was a source of discussion. I hope some ardent one-siders can understand that there are arguments on both side. Some are better than others in my opinion. I know I missed some. I probably didn’t list your favorite argument but that’s okay. This article is already too long.

If you have made it this far then thanks for reading!