We have reached the 100-day threshold of the Scott Frost era at Nebraska. What have we learned over that span? All this week we'll be taking a look at the "first 100 days" from a variety angles to help answer that question.
There’s been plenty of ink spilt over it by this point; Nebraska’s 2018 signing class doesn’t feel like a transition class, Nebraska’s 2018 signing class will set the table for future Nebraska success, Nebraska’s 2018 signing class is proof Nebraska got the right guy and proof that guy can do it at the big boy level. But how Nebraska’s 2018 signing class got to be what it was feels more important, at least in the grand scheme of things, than any of the direct benefits.
That’s really what this sort-of-kind-of-not-really column is about, in 100 days of Frost advisories in Nebraska, his most important moment might not have really had anything to do with Nebraska.
“The job that they have done in the last two months, I don’t know if it has ever been done in college football and I don’t know if it will be done again,” Frost said of his coaching staff during a press conference on National Signing Day. “You don’t see anybody that takes another job and goes back and coaches another game. In fact, a lot of the bowl games that went on, the teams that lost coaches got whipped in their bowl game. Our guys, to a man, wanted to go back and help those kids in Florida win a football game.”
That’s where this all starts. The decision to go back, and everything that decision brought with it, set Nebraska up for success during the early signing window, for success in January, for success in February, for success when spring ball begins Friday and for success down the road. Frost and everyone on his staff wore two hats for the entire month of December. When they were hired at Nebraska, they were brought on under a “part-time” designation until Jan. 2. They were coaching Peach Bowl practices in Central Florida gear, then swapping out that gear for Nebraska N’s and flying literally to the opposite coast to recruit.
Were they doing more work than other New Year’s Six coaches? Slightly, given the nature of what happens to a class after a coaching transition, but it’s not like other coaches weren’t recruiting. You just didn’t hear Frost complain about it. They accepted the challenges in order to finish their business and got to work.
Nebraska’s recruiting class was ranked 94th in the country when Frost and his staff took over. It finished No. 22.
“Coach Frost had a great exit strategy for UCF and an entrance strategy at Nebraska,” defensive coordinator Erik Chinander said at a meet-and-greet event in Grand Island in February (another Frost decision). “We had to win a game and recruit a lot of kids and I think the plan he put in front of us went pretty well.”
That resonated with high school coaches.
“I have a lot of respect for Frost just looking at what he did at UCF and it wasn’t as much as flipping the program and going 13-0 but the fact that he did stay and finish what he started,” Justin Larmond told Hail Varsity Radio back on Signing Day. Larmond coached defensive end signee Caleb Tannor in high school; he said that commitment to Frost’s team was something Tannor and his family noticed. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Frost in that matter.”
Larmond watched the game. He watched the way Central Florida took control in the second half and toppled an SEC giant. He watched the way the UCF players embraced their coaches when it all came to an end.
“I see the way his kids play for him and even though they knew he was leaving, how much love they showed him after the game,” he said. “That type of stuff really stood out to me.”
Larmond said there was a “big difference” between Nebraska’s staff and everyone else in recruiting. Maurice Washington’s high school coach, Aveion Cason, said it’s about their authenticity.
“They’re real, they’re honest,” he told Hail Varsity Radio. “They can have a kid from my school anytime.”
That’s been the response everywhere the Huskers go. You hear guys on the staff talk about the power the Nebraska “N” still holds, well part of that power comes from a shiny new paint job applied when everyone made the decision to go back.
“The sky’s the limit for them right now,” Cason said.
Ryan Held, Nebraska’s running backs coach, says the response across not just the state, but the country, from high school coaches has been overwhelmingly positive.
“There’s so many people that are excited about us being at Nebraska because we’re going to do it the right way,” Held said.
Every recruiting pitch has to include an element of winning the mother over. If Mom doesn’t like you, good luck getting her to sign off on you. It’s one thing to tell someone you’re trustworthy and honest, but the cliche here fits, talk is cheap. You have to prove it with your actions. That’s what Frost and the rest of this coaching staff has done for the last 100 days, that’s what coaching in the Peach Bowl meant. There are going to be high schools and coaches and kids whose doors opened simply because of what happened in December. That’s quite the way to start a tenure.
Letting kids see the offense in that nationally broadcast game and getting the three-hour-long Nebraska infomercial that came with it was important, but just playing in it in the first place was huge.
“It’s unprecedented what these guys have done,” Frost said. “I can’t wait to watch what they can accomplish here.”
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.