Husker Dan: Second Thoughts by Frost?
In the aftermath of Saturday’s “Meltdown at Michigan,” some Husker fans may have wondered if Scott Frost had any second thoughts about his decision to leave the UCF football program that he and his current Husker assistants had restored to national prominence in Orlando. (He took over a program that was 0-12 the year before he got there and turned them into a 13-0 team in two years.)
And who could blame Frost if he did have second thoughts? University of Central Florida is currently ranked #13 in the latest AP Poll and hasn’t lost a game since December of 2016 – Scott Frost’s first year with the Knights. Central Florida is on a 16 game win streak which is the longest in D-1 football (they had one game canceled due to Hurricane Florence).
Meanwhile at his new home at Nebraska, his Huskers haven’t won a game this year and as a program, have lost 9 of their last 10 games. And to make matters worse, his Husker team seems to be getting worse as the season goes on. Had he stayed in Orlando, Frost’s life would be so much easier. He had all his players in place. Everyone knew the system and all the players bought in to Frost’s vision.
The question many Husker fans have is, did Scott Frost underestimate the kind of rebuilding job that lay ahead at Nebraska?
I think Frost knew exactly what he was getting into. I don’t think he’s surprised at all with how things are going with the Husker football program. I think he’s fighting mad. Frost is not going to quit and eventually, neither will his players.
Is Frost disappointed? Absolutely, but he didn’t get where he is by not knowing all the facts before making a decision the magnitude of taking the job at Nebraska. He knew full well what the problems plaguing the Nebraska football program were. There were (are) a lot of holes in the ship that have to be plugged before the program can make any strides toward respectability. We now know the rules were pretty lax under Mike Riley. There was little discipline during his tenure at Nebraska. It’s no wonder the kids gave up in games last year.
Saturday’s meltdown at the Big House was very reminiscent of last year’s “Meltdown at Minnesota.” Who can forget how the Huskers quit in that game, losing to a much inferior team than the Wolverines?
Coach Frost said after Saturday’s humiliating loss to Michigan that the Husker program has hit the absolute bottom.
Some would say, with road games with Ohio State, Wisconsin and Iowa, there is a good chance that things will, indeed, get worse – probably much worse. But I think what Frost meant was that the level of his team’s play last Saturday, was as bad as it’s going to get. That doesn’t mean that’s the end of humiliating losses for Nebraska this year.
My sense is that Frost and his assistants can do only so much to turn this program around this year. For the Huskers to make the next step forward, player leadership is going to have to step up. The question is how long will it take? Time is critical. And how many players will defect in the next couple of weeks? Don’t know.
CAN PURDUE DO IT?
So where does that bring the Husker football program going into this week’s Homecoming game with Purdue? The Boilermakers (love the name) are 3-point favorites to beat Nebraska. And let’s say that the Huskers do lose this game.
That would put the Huskers at 0-4 with a game the following week at Wisconsin. Does anyone think the way Nebraska is currently playing it has any chance of beating the Badgers? It could be an 0-5 start for Nebraska. Ouch. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, right?
So what should Husker fans do if that’s the case? How long should and will Husker fans stay with the team?
MESSAGE TO HUSKER FANS
My sense is that Husker fans know the rebuilding plan is going to be a long process. I realize there may be some defections in the fan base, but I think the real Husker fans have a great opportunity to really help the Nebraska program especially this season.
Abandon ship and it’ll send a message to prospective recruits that maybe the football program is not headed in the right direction. Conversely, if the fan base remains passionate, maybe Nebraska will show the recruiting world that things will get better and that new talent is going to be essential in Frost’s quest to turn around the program.
We all need to remember that of the approximately 135 players on the team, only 51 of them came into the program since Frost & Company have been at Nebraska. That means that over 80 players were recruited by either Pelini or Riley. Is it any wonder there might be some players who have not (and maybe never will) buy into Frost’s vision?
I’ve written before the season about some of the obstacles that Scott Frost would have to overcome in his first year leading the football program. Perhaps the biggest hurdle lies with the fact that Nebraska has had three new coaching staffs in five years. Think about that one for just a second. How can kids learn and unlearn so many different coaching styles and techniques?
The thing that will make Nebraska Great Again will be better talent and more time to coach the kids who want to play for Scott Frost.
PART FOUR OF A SERIES
HOW TO MAKE NEBRASKA GREAT AGAIN
This is the fourth in a series of responses I got from a question I asked earlier this summer of some former Husker football players and a former Husker coach. The question: What do you think Scott Frost needs to do to restore the Husker football program back to national prominence?
Today’s response comes from legendary former Husker Defensive Coordinator Charlie McBride.
* 23-Year Career as Nebraska assistant
* 18 of those were as Defensive Coordinator
* 1996 was a finalist for the Frank Broyles Assistant of the Year Award
* In his 18 years as the Husker DC, 11 of his defenses finished in the Top Ten in the country.
* And 10 times, his defenses finished in the Top Ten in scoring defense.
There are several things, I think, that can get a team like Nebraska back to national prominence.
First is enthusiasm. Players must be enthused with what they are doing and the direction they are going. And they must believe in each other. They have to play as one team. Not one team for offense, another for defense. They must come together as one team.
To many people, defense is a necessary evil. Fans like offense. Kids want to be quarterbacks, receivers etc. But some kids do say, “I want to be a Blackshirt.”
But the tradition with the Blackshirts over the past few years has taken a step backward. Blackshirts should be given to first teamers and some for the twos and threes because they rotate in games. They’re all Blackshirts. And when the Huskers get to a bowl game, all the seniors should have Blackshirts. It’s a big deal to receive one. I remember when one of our kickers received one. He broke down and cried.
And the coaches need to know the players. Each kid learns differently. Once we were in a meeting and I asked, “Does everybody understand this?” Well, no one raised their hands. No one wanted to admit that they didn’t know. But, I’ll tell you what, the seniors really appreciated it when the under classmen admitted that they needed help.
And when I coached at Nebraska, the coaches had other things to teach besides football. We wanted to help the kids off the football field as well. We’d give them quotes about things like adversity, courage, commitment etc.
And there must be communication between each other. We told the kids, “You have to decide what kind of a team you want.” My goal back then was to make my players better than they thought they could be.
Some coaches at other schools didn’t know who their second and third stringers were. It’s reallly important to know all the kids.
And it’s essential to have continuity in the coaching staff. Because all the assistants knew each other when I coached at Nebraska, we could make changes on the fly during football games.
And Tom Osborne let me do my own thing. Honesty is also critical to building relationships with players. Our players also had a great work ethic. And our practices were routine, regardless of the opponent.
You may contact the writer at HuskerDan@cox.net.