It’s taken me a while to get to this point in my own head, but after Saturday’s 54-21 beatdown at the hands of Minnesota I’m there. Nebraska has no choice but to hire Scott Frost.
Now, I am not one to blindly advocate that “ties to the school” are necessary or even important when making hiring decisions. Most of the time, I chalk that sort of thinking up to lazy thinking. As a general rule, I believe that schools should hire the best coach possible for their situation. It just so happens that, for Nebraska, that coach is Frost.
On Saturday, as I watched the Nebraska-Minnesota game, I scrolled through Twitter only to find arguments and musings from fans and media about whether or not this was a low point for Nebraska’s football program. Let me save you the mind-numbing trouble of thinking about this: If you’re in a spot where you’re arguing about “low-points,” you’re pretty much screwed. That sort of discussion necessitates a real come-to-Jesus moment because this program is in a bad way right now. It’s on life support. Or at least that’s how it looked on Saturday. This team has quit.
So, with the season an inarguable and indefensible mess, heads will roll. New Athletic Director Bill Moos didn’t come to Nebraska to preside over this. Standing pat with Riley or making a hire that has fans scratching their heads is not the way to engender unequivocal support.
It’s my sense that Nebraska fans are experiencing a disillusionment with the football program that is unrivaled in their lifetimes. At this point, referencing the past is embarrassing given where the program is at. And yet, there’s also a feeling that if things could just be reset, if we could get everyone (from coaches to fans to administrators) to pull in the same direction, the Huskers could turn this around. That’s the thought, at least.
Even the most downtrodden fans should be able to acknowledge that a program is only one good (or bad) coaching hire away from a very distinct turnaround in fortunes. For proof, let’s look at the biggest current behemoth in college football: Alabama. Here are the season records for the Crimson Tide in the ten years before Nick Saban:
- 1997: 4-7
- 1998: 7-5
- 1999: 10-3
- 2000: 3-8
- 2001: 7-5
- 2002: 10-3
- 2003: 4-9
- 2004: 6-6
- 2005: 10-2
- 2006: 6-7
Feel better, Nebraska fans? You should. At least a little bit. Now, Nick Saban isn’t walking through that door in Lincoln, and neither are any of the other top five coaches in college football. So what’s the play then? Nebraska needs someone like Saban or Urban Meyer, someone who can galvanize a fan base that desperately needs glued back together. Nebraska needs someone who can convince everyone associated with the program to bend over backwards and do just a little bit more to make sure that he had what he needed to do his job just as good as those heavyweights do theirs. If you want to point to something that’s been lacking at Nebraska, it’s this idea. For far too long, people around the program have been pulling in their own directions and it turns into one gigantic tug-of-war.
Bill Callahan and Steve Pederson were never really embraced by anyone in Lincoln. Bo Pelini? All he did was create an “us vs. them” attitude around the program that became so ingrained the team saw fans and the media as enemies. Ultimately, this manifested itself in the team going into a shell and turning into mental midgets at the first sign of adversity.
Mike Riley had questions from the outset, as the hiring of a career .500 coach wasn’t really what anyone expected.
All of this has created a program with no direction, no identity, and, sadly, no real hope that things are going to change. As the season has developed and things have gone from bad to worse, Scott Frost is the only way I can see out of this mess.
Up to this point, I thought that Moos could have hired someone not named Frost and that would have been fine. I was on board with Mike Leach, Matt Campbell, Craig Bohl, and Gary Patterson at different points during the season. Now, with things where they are, I know one thing for certain: hiring someone who raises questions and splinters support from outside and within the program from day 1 is not what Nebraska needs. Yes, winning cures all and slows the questions, but it is sooo much harder to win when everyone’s not on the same page and maybe not even in the same book. Frost is the one guy that Nebraska could hire that would create universal support immediately.
It’s almost too perfect right now, which is why, if it doesn’t happen, Nebraska fans will be even more demoralized. We need a coach. A former player, raised in the state and with parents still in the state, is leading a Central Florida team to an undefeated season. Central Florida has beaten every team by double figures and has scored 30+ in each of its 9 games. They have, figuratively speaking, stepped on teams’ throats when necessary. It’s been a long damn time since that has happened in Lincoln (insert Ndamukong Suh jokes here).
Even if Moos were to pull another quality coach for this (and he probably could), Strike #1 becomes “You’re not Scott Frost.” Then, when Strike #2 inevitably happens, there won’t be a circling of the wagons. There will be a burning of the wagons. People won’t be asking what else there is that they can do to help. Instead, they’ll be wondering what else there is to do on Saturdays.
Good luck with that, not-Scott Frost.