Scott Frost knew about Nebraska’s interest well before the head coaching job at his alma matter came open.
“This was a hard process for me because it’s unbelievable the timing of having to make these decisions. The interest starts coming about midway through the season, and I was busy coaching a football team,” Frost said at a press conference Sunday when he was introduced as the 33rd coach in Nebraska football history.
“I care about my players, and the last thing I was going to do was let that process carry into the season,” Frost said of an undefeated American Conference champion UCF Knights team he’s leaving behind in Florida.
Bill Moos, Nebraska’s athletic director and the man tasked with bringing Frost back home to Nebraska, took a sensitive approach to wooing the nation’s hottest coach. Moos wanted to respect Frost and his team, respect that talking about another job would distract and ultimately hurt the one Frost was currently doing.
“I think Scott appreciated the fact that I wasn’t in his ear all the time,” Moos said. “I wanted him to concentrate on the great run he was having at UCF and I think in the end that resonated with him as well. There aren’t many of us in my profession that played the game and understand how important it is to keep the focus and to avoid distractions and I’ve always been high on that throughout my career and certainly utilized that this time around.”
But, Moos needed to meet Frost. He didn’t want to offer Frost the job without knowing who he was. Moos said Sunday that Frost was his “number one priority” during the Huskers’ search for a new head coach, and that he didn’t offer the job to anyone else, but meeting him was mandatory. Moos said he was prepared to fly to Orlando and meet with Frost on his own schedule, but Matt Davison, Frost's teammate at Nebraska and part of Husker Sports Network broadcast team, offered a different solution: Philadelphia.
“Matt [Davison] really worked it out for us to meet in Philadelphia, there were more than sandwiches,” Moos joked after playing coy about the meeting when asked about it a week ago. “But I had an opportunity to sit down with Scott … It was very casual and there were no notes, it was just I wanted to get to know this guy and I felt he wanted to get a feel for me too. It wasn’t long, maybe an hour or so, no longer than that, and then we continued on up to play Penn State.”
That was on Friday, Nov. 17, one day before the Huskers lost on the road to Penn State. Frost’s Knights were playing at Temple that weekend and Davison, a close friend to Frost and one of several “conduits” (as Moos put it) that was helping to get Moos’ message to Orlando, helped arrange a sit-down.
Even leading up to it, Frost made sure to get his work done for Central Florida first, putting the finishing touches on his preparation for Temple well before the two met. UCF won 45-19 the next day, if nothing else proving Frost’s ability to multitask.
Much like Moos, Frost just wanted to meet the person that was going to be offering him his next job. He wasn’t as interested in the job itself as much as making sure he was comfortable with the leadership at the university and making sure the timing was right.
“Then the decision had to be made,” Frost said. “Didn’t make a decision to come here until this past week.”
Though he didn’t say when the two actually spoke, Frost did say that coach Tom Osborne served as a major influence in that decision.
“What I respect about him the most in this process is that if he wouldn’t have believed this was the right time or the right place for me he would’ve told me,” Frost said. “Even though he probably would’ve liked to have me back, if those things weren’t all taken care of he wouldn’t have told me to come. It was still a hard decision, but I think coach felt good about the leadership here and the direction. That made me a lot more comfortable with taking this job.”
Frost called 2017 the best year of his life, a year that will be hard to top. Partially because of becoming a father, but also because of the relationships he built in Orlando. Following the Knights’ win over Memphis Saturday night, UCF athletic director Danny White said the decision to leave was one that Frost wrestled with even into the final week.
“It was a hard decision for me because some of the players I was coaching down there are special to me, we built something special down there at UCF,” Frost said. “But, when it came down to it, this is home and I can’t think of anything more rewarding in my career than turning this place around.”
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.