It no longer looks like a sure thing that Nebraska alumnus Scott Frost will take over the Huskers after his time at UCF.
Over the last few years, it felt pretty safe to put down Frost’s name in pencil for whenever the job at his alma mater opened up.
Even if Mike Riley, whose future is in serious question now, had succeeded at Nebraska, he was already in his 60s when he was hired away from Oregon State. Riley was never a long-term solution to bring the Huskers back to 1990s-level greatness.
At the same time, Frost inherited a very, very bad UCF team. The Knights had bottomed out at 0-12 in 2015, before hiring Frost, who turned down lower level Power Five interest to take on the rebuild. He got the program to a bowl in year one, and has an undefeated team vying for New Year’s Six inclusion in year two. A Riley-for-Frost swap always felt possible, but now looks like it could go down after just a few years.
Of course, Florida could very well get in the way.
The Gators unexpectedly fired Jim McElwain after two years (and two SEC titles) following a 3-4 start to the 2017 season, and now have even gambling odds to hire Frost as his replacement. If Frost spurns his alma mater for the SEC power, not all is lost, however. Sports Illustrated‘s Andy Staples believes there are two other big names that Nebraska could tab to replace Riley, if it goes in that direction:
Iowa State’s Matt Campbell would fit beautifully in a state that shares his ethos. His buyout is huge ($9.4 million), but fortunately Nebraska is rich.
Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen also has the skill set to succeed at Nebraska. He’s great at unearthing recruiting gems and developing quarterbacks. He runs a unique offense. He also may be a target of other schools in the SEC, or he may just decide that $4.5 million and an excellent returning roster are reasons to stay in Starkville. But he’d be a great fit at a place that has some of the same recruiting challenges he faces now but much less strenuous competition in its division.
One could argue that Campbell should be getting just as much, if not more, press than Frost for what he has done in his second year at Iowa State. The Cyclones are probably the second or third hardest job in the Big 12, along with the Kansas Schools, and he has transformed them into giant killers, knocking off undefeated Oklahoma and TCU in recent weeks. Without a three-point overtime loss vs. rival Iowa (or 17-7 loss vs. Texas), the Cyclones would be right in the middle of the College Football Playoff picture.
Mullen has been connected to a number of jobs, and was the favorite to go to Florida, where he served as an assistant under Urban Meyer, until this recent run on Scott Frost. Many assume that he wants a job with a higher ceiling than Mississippi State, but as Staples notes, he does seem pretty comfortable with his situation at Mississippi State. Still, he’s a very talented coach and would be a good target for Nebraska.