Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, December 2, 2017
Say ?hello? to Scott Frost, the man who is gonna save Nebraska football. Well, at least that?s the hope.
Frank Solich tried. So did Bill Callahan, Bo Pelini and Mike Riley. And, they all failed to restore the national championship luster that Tom Osborne polished onto this proud program before he stepped down following a national championship season in 1997.
Unbelievably, that was 20 years ago. But Frost may be different. Really.
Frost is straight out of central casting when it comes to a profile to be Nebraska?s coach. You see, Frost is one of them. He is a Cornhusker. He sat in Memorial Stadium as kid, one of thousands who have helped perpetuate a sell-out streak that dates to 1962. He saw the dominance on the field. Then, he was part of the dominance on the field.
Frost was a highly regarded prospect from Wood River, Nebraska, who had his pick of colleges. The golden boy with the letter jacket filled with patches opted for Stanford, where he played 1993 and 1994 before the siren song of home called him back to the midlands. Who could blame Frost?
Nebraska was in the midst of one of the most dominating runs in college football history, winning national titles in 1994 and 1995. Frost quarterbacked the Cornhuskers to another in 1997. Now, in an act of seemingly divine symmetry, Frost is on campus again 20 years after the program?s last run of glory.
Frost has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the coaching rankings. His first full-time gig was with Northern Iowa in 2007. He was off to Oregon in 2009, working for Chip Kelly and ascending to offensive coordinator in 2013 under Mark Helfrich. At 41, Frost took over a winless UCF program in 2016 and went 6-7 with a bowl. This year, Frost led UCF to an undefeated record and the AAC championship.
Frost has made the Golden Knights one of the most dynamic offensive teams in the nation. But it?s the winning the matters the most to those who hired him at Nebraska for a program that-incredibly-hasn?t won a league title since 1999. The last 20 years haven?t been kind to the Big Red. The Huskers have been a lost soul searching for past greatness. It has been elusive-and sad to watch.
Since Osborne stepped down after coaching Nebraska for 25 years (1973-1997), the Huskers have had four coaches. Frost is the fifth in 21 seasons. That?s the type of coaching instability you?d expect at San Jose State. Not at Nebraska.
Will the Cornhuskers ever regain the edge that saw them win three national titles in the 1990s and two in the 1970s?
There are a million theories as why it has gone so wrong. Poor recruiters ? soft on defense ? lack of athletic ability ? changing offensive philosophy. Just what exactly is Nebraska football? For so many years, the answer was simple: ground-pounding offense anchored by a ferocious defense known as the ?Blackshirts.?
People in Lincoln are talked-out. It?s time for action. Oh, it can happen. Frost knows it can. He has watched it. He has lived it.
The facilities glisten. The support overflows. The money is stacked high. The tradition drips. Nebraska has it all-except for on-field success.
The losses to Minnesota, Northwestern, Illinois and Purdue have to stop. Then, Frost has to first catch Iowa ? and then get Wisconsin. Win the Big Ten West, get to the league title game, win it and ? you?ll probably find yourself in the College Football Playoff, where anything can happen.
Former Nebraska A.D. Shawn Eichorst surprised the nation and took a chance when he tabbed Riley from Oregon State to lead the program. It was easy to punch holes in Riley?s resume and wonder what Eichorst was thinking. The skeptics were right. And, the gamble ultimately cost Eichorst his job.
Swinging and missing on coaches has become too commonplace in Lincoln. That?s why Nebraska has been lost in the college football forest since Osborne stepped down after the 1997 season hoisting the national championship trophy. It was a glorious and fitting send-off for the stoic Dr. Tom, who came to embody the program, school ? and state. For crying out loud: He WAS Nebraska. Still is.
Well, Frost is Nebraska, too. In fact, he checks most every box on the list of a Cornhusker fan:
– Nebraska native
– Former Huskers star
– National championship pedigree
– Osborne disciple
– Youthful and energetic
– Bright offensive mind
– Highly successful head coach
Yep, this is gonna be fun to watch unfold.