Scott Frost was treated as something of a savior for Nebraska football, when the program successfully hired the former Husker quarterback at the end of the 2017 season. That year, he successfully ran the table at UCF, beating Auburn in the Peach Bowl after accepting his new job.
Frost to Nebraska had been floated for a long time before it became a reality. Given Frost’s ascendance and Nebraska’s struggles to reestablish its identity, it felt like a perfect fit. If anything, the biggest question was if Nebraska could beat out teams like Florida to land him.
The Frost hire graded out well with just about every outlet. Even after last year’s 4-8 season, the late-year high notes were enough to drive serious hype heading into 2019. The Huskers began the season ranked, and even had plenty of picks in their favor to win the Big Ten West.
Instead, 2019 has arguably been a worse season than 2018 so far, especially given the context of what was expected of Nebraska. Scott Frost certainly isn’t on the hot seat yet, but he’s had to sell fans that a turnaround is imminent after a number of bad losses.
ESPN‘s Hallie Grossman went to Lincoln to do a feature on the Nebraska situation, and spoke to legendary coach Tom Osborne about his former quarterback’s struggles.
He articulated one of the prominent feelings on the Frost tenure shared by many Nebraska fans: if Scott Frost can’t succeed here, who can?
“Back on the balcony, Osborne is so soft-spoken you have to lean in to actually hear him say it, to speak out loud the unease that gnaws at the people who love this state and its football team. ‘A lot of people feel that if this doesn’t work with Scott,’ Osborne says, ‘it’s probably not going to work, period, you know?'”
Mike Riley certainly wasn’t working out, but before him, Nebraska decided that consistent nine or 10-win seasons under Bo Pelini weren’t worth sticking with him due to his prickly and confrontational personality. Pelini went either 9-4 or 10-4 every single season as head coach, until he was fired after a 9-3 regular season in 2014. Leaked Pelini audio certainly played a part, but former Nebraska AD Shawn Eichorst said that his failure to win big games was a major factor in his dismissal.
Even going back to the post-Osborne years, Frank Solich was fired after a 58-19 record from 1998-2003, which included a Fiesta Bowl win and a trip to the Rose Bowl.
If Frost could reach a Solich, or even Pelini level, there’s a chance that Nebraska fans would embrace that reality a bit better than it has in years past, but right now Frost’s huge struggles have many wondering if the Huskers can even reliably win nine or 10 games per year. In the current college football landscape, that is a short list of schools, and one that doesn’t include many schools like Nebraska that don’t have a fertile recruiting base in its back yard.