Nightmare is over; new coach on board
“My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.”—Gerald Ford, Aug. 9, 1974
For Nebraskans, that nightmarish wait was eight days from the time that Cornhusker Football Coach Mike Riley was fired until native son Scott Frost was hired.
The pronouncement was from another Nebraska native. Remember that Ford was born in Omaha and was a football MVP at the University of Michigan.
To listen to the hype and drama surrounding the Nebraska firing and Husker hiring, one might expect that Frost—a National Championship quarterback for the Huskers 20 years ago—could walk on water. Maybe. Let’s just hope that the Husker faithful give him time to get his feet on the ground first.
You might wonder why I care about football. Haven’t been to a game in years. My two sons played soccer, often with games at conflicting times with football.
I love and understand soccer. I also love that much of the drama is played out on the field, save for an occasional riot or stampede in the stands in countries where they REALLY take it seriously.
But it’s the politics and drama of football, the culture and its shifts that draws me to watching the periphery of the actual game. Native sons aren’t always the answer to bringing out the best in Nebraska football’s program; remember athletic director and North Platte native Steve Pederson. Better yet, forget him and his handpicked football coach Bill Callahan.
Nebraskans will likely long lament and debate Frank Solich. A product of the legendary Bob Devaney era when he played college ball, Solich took a good run at the Husker helm with winning seasons before he was fired in 2003.
One could best describe the coaches in the ensuing years in terms of the fairytale Three Bears. One was too cold (Callahan), one was too hot (Bo Pelini), one was Goldilocks (Riley). Maybe Scott Frost will be just right.
Frost is the son of a former Husker football standout, Larry Frost, who went on to coach high school football in several Nebraska towns and other states.
His mother, Carol, was the first Nebraska woman to be a track and field Olympian.
Scott Frost quarterbacked at Wood River before heading to college at Stanford. Scott transferred to Nebraska two years later and led Nebraska to its last national title 20 years ago.
A former Associated Press colleague of mine, Barry Bedlan, said in a recent Facebook post that Frost was a “QB who repeatedly landed killer blocks and ran more like a fullback, plowing over would-be tacklers. After destroying Peyton Manning’s Tennessee in the Orange Bowl that year he aggressively and eloquently lobbied poll voters to select Nebraska over Michigan” for the national title.
Bedlan also notes that Frost “completely transformed the UCF program in just two seasons, taking over a 0-12 program to lead them to six wins and a bowl in his first year and then an undefeated 12-0 season in his second (this year).”
As Bedlan also notes, Frost is young (42), extremely smart, unorthodox, funny, relatable and already well versed on the game. He played offense in college and defense in the NFL.
He understands winning having played under Bill Walsh (three Super Bowl rings), Tom Osborne (three national titles), Bill Parcells (two Super Bowl rings), Bill Belichick (five Super Bowl rings) and Jon Gruden (one Super Bowl ring), as well as some not-so-successful coaches. He coached under some winners and some losers.
Here’s hoping that Nebraska fans can accept Frost for what he brings to the table and be patient and give him the space to do what he did at the University of Central Florida.
It most likely won’t be an overnight thing, but it will be worth watching.