Nebraska is (most likely) going to have a new coach for their fabled college football team next season. The writing may have been written on the wall earlier this month when the head coach Scott Frost was placed under investigation for the improper use of consultants and analysts during games and practices. The NCAA investigation may extend to include possible off-campus workouts and practices that Frost organized despite guidelines that prohibited those activities during the early stages of the COVID pandemic. While Frost is a Nebraska alumnus, so too is athletic director Trev Alberts who was hired for the position after Frost’s tenure had started — so he is not an Alberts hire. But if Alberts still had a chance to salvage things this season, the Cornhuskers’ 30-22 upset loss at Illinois as a 6-point favorite likely sealed his fate.
It is not so much the upset loss that was infuriating (especially for backers like me) as it was the continued mental mistakes that have become endemic for this program under Frost. Nebraska surrendered a safety that opened the scoring. They then went on to dominate the first quarter — and Adrian Martinez’s inability to complete a potential touchdown pass to a wide-open receiver to take a 14-2 lead led to the Huskers settling for a field goal … which they missed. The Nebraska defense remained dominant — but when an interception on the Illini’s side of the field was nullified by a roughing-the-passer penalty. The momentum shifted, Illinois scored a touchdown on that drive — and they recovered a fumble at the Cornhuskers’ 41-yard line which they returned for a touchdown to seize a 16-9 halftime lead. The Illini scored two more touchdowns in the third quarter to take a 30-9 lead before the Huskers scored two touchdowns to make the final score look respectable. Nebraska won the yardage battle by a 392 to 326 margin — yet Frost’s team was not competitive on the scoreboard.
If that performance did not seal Frost’s fate in the eyes of Albert after the game, the coach’s comments after the game probably did. Uttered Frost about the play of his offense: “About half of our game plan was out the window when they lined up how they did.”
To paraphrase the football wisdom of Bugs Bunny: “What a maroon!”
As if accidentally conceding that one’s offensive acumen does not include the ability to make adjustments (after a month of practice), admitting to being be owned by Illinois coach Bret Bielema in his first game back in the Big Ten along with his defensive coordinator Ryan Walters who he poached from Missouri is not going to go over well with Albert who is one of the most fabled “blackshirts” in the history of the Nebraska program.
Frost’s tenure with the Cornhuskers has been a disaster. On the field, the team is now 12-21 with seven upsets losses in his fourth season. They are 9-22 in Big Ten play. Supposedly an offensive guru, Nebraska scored only 23.1 PPG last season which was the lowest mark for the football team this century. The terrible play of the special teams has been the most consistent aspect of the program under Frost. Two of his best players last year, quarterback Luke McCaffrey and wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson, transferred away from the program in the offseason. Frost and his coaching staff are not developing NFL talent. And the recruiting has completely fallen off. 247 Sports rated the Huskers’ 2022 recruiting class as last in the Big Ten.
Frost became a hot name in the college football ranks when he oversaw Central Florida’s 13-0 season in 2017-18. Frost took over that program the year prior after the Golden Knights bottomed out with an 0-12 record. That 2016-17 season for UCF was fluky in that they lost a bunch of talent from the prior year — and then they got hit hard with injuries, bad luck, upset losses, close losses, and a retiring head coach midseason. Frost came to Orlando from Oregon where he was the offensive coordinator. With George O’Leary’s recruits, he was handed a great situation -- which he took full advantage of. Yet in Frost’s five seasons as a head coach, that 2017-18 campaign at Central Florida was the only team he coached a team with a winning record.
I think coaches should get some benefit of the doubt from last year’s results given the challenges of COVID. But with the early returns now in for Nebraska this season, the program is lost under Frost’s guidance.
Best of luck — Frank.