fan holding up sign during game that reads Frost Advisory warning
Photo Credit: Aaron Babcock

Frost Files – Day 2: A Subtle Distancing

November 28, 2017

There’s more than one candidate for the Nebraska job. Has to be. But there’s one candidate that has a clear and insurmountable lead as the fan favorite – UCF head coach Scott Frost.

Given the interest level, not to mention a pretty fascinating backstory, I’ll be offering updates, thoughts, links and anything else that grabs my attention until we definitely know Mr. Frost is the next man up in Lincoln or we definitely know he isn’t.

Welcome to Day 2. I'll do these as often as is merited. Maybe daily.

A Subtle Distancing

The day started in Florida with Orlando Sentinel columnist George Diaz reporting that Frost was down to two choice: Nebraska or UCF. It wasn’t a surprising report. Based on what I’ve heard over the past 24 hours, those are the two choices. Florida State isn’t jumping in here, and, based almost solely on timing, I don’t think Oregon would have time to enter the picture should Willie Taggart be in line for another job. By the time the Ducks had an opening, Frost would have decided between the Knights and Huskers and that was taxing enough.

I'd be hurt if Nebraska wasn't interested in me. We're undefeated, I'm from there. When you win a lot of people are interested in you.
– Scott Frost

At his regular Monday press conference, Frost sure sounded like a guy who has made up his mind. You’ve probably already read the two big quotes to come from that session, but the whole thing, as I watched it, felt like a subtle preparation for what came next. At spots where a coach might have used “we,” Frost used “UCF.” He talked about things with a hint of finality that certainly stands out from the normal tenor of any press conference.

“I can’t tell you how much pride I take in the fact that we came here and took on the task of fixing something that wasn’t in a good place,” Frost said at one point. “I don’t think the players were in a good place. This university is special. This community is special. It gives me a lot of pride to know that we came in and righted the ship. I knew this place could be the type of place that could compete for conference championships every year. I’ve got to tell you, I thought it would take a lot longer to get it to this point, but we made the right choices in the steps we made along the way.”

That sounds a lot like the comments Kevin Sumlin made on his way out the door at Texas A&M, not like the comments of a coach who would have every right to say “this is just the start for us.”

I can’t think it was a fun press conference for UCF fans, but you know what it was? Fair. If Frost knows he’s moving on — and he acknowledged that when you win you get other opportunities — he can’t say it now.

What he can do is genuinely highlight the great things about a program he clearly cares a lot about, which he did, while also gently hinting that things could be about to change.

You can listen to Frost’s full press conference here.

Rumorville

There are a few rumors out there about the degree to which some members of the UCF staff have already began preparations for what awaits them in Lincoln. Ryan Bass — a great follow on Twitter, by the way – is a sports director at a Florida TV station, and said on Game Time with Nick Bahe today that some UCF staff members have “cleaned out their desks.” I haven’t been able to corroborate those at this point, so we’ll leave it at that.

But Greg Smith and I have both heard independently is that if Frost does come to Nebraska, expect his Nebraska contingent of coaches to come with him. His staff is an interesting mix of bright minds he has picked up along the way, but the Husker group includes offensive line coach Greg Austin, running backs coach Ryan Held, quality control administrator Barrett Ruud and strength-and-conditioning coach Zach Duval (who has a really great haircut, incidentally). You could very likely count on those guys coming to Lincoln.

It’s less clear with the coordinators. Either offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Troy Walters or defensive coordinator Erik Chinander could get a look for the UCF head job in Frost’s absence. Walters, a Stanford alum, was named one of five finalists for the Broyles Award, given annually to the top assistant coach in the country.

One other assistant coaching name I’ve heard from multiple sources could have an interest in Nebraska if Frost is there: former Husker quarterback Zac Taylor. He has been an offensive coordinator in the NFL and at the college level, and is currently a wide receivers coach with the Los Angeles Rams.

Number Corner

I like Football Outsiders’ offensive-line stats. UCF’s rankings in many of the categories there aren’t great, but the Knights do rank 36th nationally in opportunity rate, a measure of how often the line “does its job.” Nebraska ranked 111th in that category this season after 12 games.

Potent Quotables

Frost went to Stanford to be a quarterback and learn under Bill Walsh. The Cardinal had a pretty good quarterback, however, and by year two there Frost was getting snaps at safety (while still being the backup QB). On Sep. 24, 1994, the day Colorado beat Michigan on a Hail Mary, Stanford hosted No. 8 Arizona and lost 34-10. It didn’t sit well with Frost, who played at safety.

“We get deflated easy,” he was quoted as saying in The Press Democrat. “We had plays out there on defense that some guys were making tackles behind the line of scrimmage and other guys were turning and walking back to the huddle.

“Arizona would make a tackle and you’d see half the team stepping on our quarterback as they were surrounding each other . . . They think they are good. They know they are good. And it looks like they are that good. I wish we had a little bit of that spirit.”

This is actually my second favorite quote I found from Frost’s time at Stanford. Stay tuned for the top pick.

Other Horses, Other Carousels

  • I did think that Matt Campbell could be a legitimate candidate at Nebraska, $9 million buyout and all. Iowa State went ahead and signed him to a extension today, boosting his salary by $1.4 million per year.
  • Georgia Southern removed the interim tag for Chad Lunsford.
  • Alabama DC Jeremy Pruitt has reportedly interviewed for the Mississippi State job. I felt bad for Bulldog fans losing Dan Mullen, but Pruitt would be an encouraging hire.
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