Nebraska head coach Scott Frost made a radio appearance on an Orlando-based station Thursday morning talking to a local columnist about everything that has happened since he took the Huskers’ job and moved away from an undefeated Central Florida team. Not because he needed to, but because he still cares enough to.
“I thought it was important for me to come on and talk about it and clear the air just because I don’t want anything I say to take away from what those unbelievable kids and that unbelievable team accomplished last year,” Frost said on 96.9 The Game.
“It” being comments that were made to the USA Today last week about Central Florida’s claim to the 2017 National Championship and the inclusion of “national champs” on the team’s Peach Bowl rings. At the time, Frost said had he stayed at Central Florida, he would have “had a hard time getting behind it.”
“I kind of wish my ring just said 'Undefeated Season' and 'Peach Bowl Champion,’” he said then.
But don’t for a second think that means Frost is trying to cheapen what the Knights accomplished last season or turn his back on the school. On Thursday, Frost reiterated that he doesn’t regret his comments made to USA Today and hasn’t changed his tune since he left, but…
“I’m so proud of that team and will be forever. [I’m] happy for those guys and I don’t want anything I said in an answer to have the appearance of diminishing what we accomplished,” he said. “I really have no problem with [the claim]. I think it’s been wonderful for those players, I think it’s been wonderful for UCF to get attention and get people proud of what UCF accomplished. I’ve got no problem with them making a claim to it.”
It was a smart move, as Frost put it, by his former athletic director Danny White. Here we are, mid-May and people are still talking about a Central Florida team that lost its star coach. Think about what happened to the Houston Cougars after Tom Herman bolted for Texas. When was the last time you heard about them? “I think it puts UCF on the map,” Frost said.
He mentioned several times that he didn’t want to take away from that 2017 team. There’s no questioning he still cares about his former players.
When asked if he would change anything about the exit, he simply said he wished he would have had more time to celebrate the Peach Bowl win before leaving. He was in Texas for the NFL Draft to see off guys like Mike Hughes and Shaquem Griffin. He still gets texts from current Knights asking about his newborn son. He still has his UCF gear in his closet at home and said “I’m certainly going to keep some things that are really important to me and wear them proudly when I can.”
He’s still thinking about ways he can make things easier for the kids currently playing for the Knights.
“They have a job to do,” he said. "We’re going to be rooting for them this year but we’re not their coach anymore. As hard as it is, I haven’t talked to a lot of the current players. … It’s important for me to stay away and let Coach [Josh] Heupel coach those kids.”
And Frost will still go to bat for UCF against those that say the Knights didn’t deserve a shot in the College Football Playoff. On Monday, SEC Network's Greg McElroy (who played at Alabama, by the way) said the Knights would have been “dusted” by Alabama and Clemson and Georgia and Auburn had a title been on the line.
“That's a strong statement considering what happened in that game with Auburn,” Frost said. “That's kind of my point, is all that is speculation.”
In Frost’s eyes, the Knights got a raw deal. He felt like their 34-27 win over Auburn in the Peach Bowl proved they deserved a shot to play with the “big boys.” They didn’t get that shot. The CFP, since its inception, has been reserved for the Power Five. Frost wants that changed with an expanded field.
“Right now there's a system in place that crowns the national championship,” he said. “I think that system is better than it was when I was in college, and two great teams still couldn't play each other.
“Going backward and going forward I’ll be an advocate to move it to eight. I really think an eight-team system with maybe five conference champions and three at-large teams would open up the door for a team like UCF or any other team that, like UCF, has a great year to get in.
"Sports is the best when you can decide championships and decide these things on the field.”
And really, that’s all Frost has been getting at ever since he left. They didn’t get a chance to prove it on the field, and that’s the problem. Frost said he will continue to be an advocate for UCF and other schools like the Knights, but it’s time to move on from everything else. He was asked about what it felt like walking onto the field at Memorial Stadium for the Huskers’ packed-house April 21 spring game, paused, then put a bow on everything.
“That’s a great question because I do think it’s time to move on,” he said. “We’ve got a real big job to do up here to get Nebraska where it should be and where it belongs and I know UCF’s gotta move on and try to have another undefeated season. We’re excited to be up here, we’re going to cherish our time at UCF forever. UCF is a special place in my heart, and Nebraska is a special place in my heart.
“Walking out on the field… I haven’t been at Memorial Stadium with a full house in 10, 15 years. I had to bite my lip a little bit walking out, it brought back a lot of memories. It’s pretty special to do this job and be around kids and be able to compete and try to help young men and it makes it a little more special for me to be able to do that at my alma mater and my home.”
Here's the full Frost interview:
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.