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 4. I'll do these as often as is merited. Maybe daily.
No News Is Good News
It has been pretty quiet on the Frost front the past two days. Part of that is expected. UCF is preparing to play for a conference title and Athletic Director Bill Moos, as he did with the evaluation of Mike Riley, is doing what he said he’d do: be respectful of that chase.
But the other part of that silence — the negative space if you will — is probably good news for those hoping to see Frost in Lincoln soon. If Nebraska were truly conducting a search, if Moos was undecided about the direction the Huskers were going, we’d hear about it. Rumors of meetings with other candidates would get out. News that Nebraska was “prepared to move on to other candidates” would be reported the same way it was at Florida with Chip Kelly.
To be clear, that time could still come. It feels unlikely to me at this point, but as Tennessee has learned, what, twice now, never consider anything “done” until it’s actually done. That said, if this thing unfolds the way it looks like it could unfold (little drama, few leaks, get the guy everyone wants), Moos deserves a ton of respect.
I’ve already seen rumblings of people who are prepared to give Moos less than full credit for landing the guy every Husker fan seemed to want who already had a tie to the university. Based on my conversations, I think that drastically underestimates just what Moos had to do here. One, we don’t even know if Frost was on his list when he arrived. He could’ve been the “sixth name,” and he would’ve been added after listening to Husker fans.
Two, there was still a sales job to be done here. Moos had to sell himself as someone who was as aligned with Frost’s interests as UCF AD Danny White was. By all accounts, Frost was pretty sold on what he could do at UCF.
Three, while I do think “going home” will always have an allure that’s difficult to calculate, there was probably a little bit of salesmanship that had to happen on Nebraska, too. While the fan support and facilities sell themselves, recruiting in Florida, even at UCF, is much easier and it’s not like Nebraska football has been in a great place of late.
Point being, if this goes the way we all think it’s going it won’t have been a matter of simply picking up the phone and saying “the job’s yours if you want it, and of course you do.” It might take a while to come out, but it will be a much more engaging story than that.
Odds are that if you’ve heard a salary number for Frost it’s probably in the neighborhood of seven years, $35 million. I’ve heard it from too many people to count at this point, which either means every mention is stemming from the same faulty place or there’s some validity to it. I would view that as a course correction of sorts for Nebraska. The Huskers have been ranked in the 40s in recent years in terms of head coach’s salary, and it looks like they’re finally going to join the ranks of their peer programs.
But there’s a crazier number I heard today. Let me stress, this is simply rumor as I haven’t been able to track down anyone else who has heard the same, but a pretty good source told one Hail Varsity staffer that the salary pool for assistant coaches could be as high as $5.5 million. Assistant’s pay is a big deal to Frost, but if this number is close to accurate it’s a big deal.
USA Today has not updated its assistants’ salary database for 2017 yet, but in 2016 only one school in the database (LSU) spent more than $5.5 million on assistants. Clemson and Alabama were right in that range, and are probably over that this season. But if the salary pool is that high at Nebraska it’s perhaps the biggest sign yet that Moos is ready for the Huskers to play big boy football again to the tune of perhaps $10 million a year just in salaries for the coaches.
Money doesn’t automatically make a team a winner of course, but all signs are pointing to Nebraska competing furiously on this front.
UCF’s 27 takeaways this season rank fourth nationally, one spot behind Miami.
I teased my favorite Frost-at-Stanford quote last time, and here it is from the Santa Cruz Sentinel:
“For an Ivy League team of the West, which we’re supposed to be, we seem to make more mistakes than anybody. Why is that?”
This is Frost after the 1994 loss to Arizona again. He was a sophomore at the time.
Other Horses, Other Carousels
- After reports that Tennessee was close to landing Purude head coach Jeff Brohm were quickly refuted, the Vols will reportedly turn to North Carolina State's Dave Doeren.
- Oregon State has its man, Washington offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jonathan Smith.
- Oregon offered Willie Taggart a raise as rumors of Florida State's interest ramp up.
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.