On Monday, head coach Scott Frost joined radio host Jim Rome for a short radio segment that covered plenty of ground. The two talked about Frost’s second season at UCF, if there are similarities between then and now at Nebraska, culture, Jovan Dewitt’s battle with cancer and plenty more.
You can listen to the full interview here. The following is the transcript from the conversation.
On the spring game sellouts and the fanbase fervor:
SF: Everybody thinks they have the best fans in the country, we certainly are convinced of it. Our attendance at spring games would show that. We’re just so grateful of the support we’ve gotten and continue to get. Our fans are hungry to see us get the program back to a place where we’re winning football games and doing it at a good clip. We couldn’t do it without that support and I think it’s unlike most every place in the entire country.
On former guys supporting his program:
SF: A lot of the guys have reached out to me. Nebraska’s had an unbelievable list of great players and we’ve got those guys behind us. Really we’re just working every day to try and build a program that’s going to make them proud. Ameer (Abdullah)’s one example, Ndamukong Suh has been in contact, we’ve seen Mike Rozier and Irving Fryar and Grant Wistrom and Ahman Green.
Those were the guys who helped build it. A lot of the guys we have in this building understand what made Nebraska great. Nebraska’s a unique place and we’re going to try to do a lot of things that made Nebraska the best program in the country for a long time.
On Frost joining Ameer Abdullah in the weight room before the spring game:
SF: I don’t remember that other than I try to work out still. Boyd Epley was the strength coach when I was here, they had a good team, they got me really strong and some of it’s still there because of old man strength.
On Nebraska fans reception of former Huskers now in the NFL like Abdullah and Rex Burkhead:
SF: Nebraska people love the football players, and they love them all but especially the guys who do things the right way on and off the football field. If you’re that type of guy, you become a superhero or a rock star or some combination of the two while you’re here and it really lasts your whole life. So, seeing those guys walk back on the field and hearing the applause was pretty special for me, I know it was really special for them, and that’s the kind of reception you get when you do things the right way at the university.
On the balance of talent and character on the recruiting trail:
SF: You have to find both. I actually think the process kind of selects those players for us. We’re certainly looking for the right type of character kid and a tough kid that wants to come to Nebraska, but really with all the choices out there in college football, the type of kid that’s going to choose Nebraska and Lincoln is usually the kid that’s really serious about it and recognizes what we’re trying to build and wants to be a part of something special and wants to focus on what’s important—that’s football and school and life after football. There’s a lot of easier choices. I think the kids that make this choice are the right types of kids that want to be here for the right reasons.
On the walk-on program:
SF: The walk-on program was a big part of what Coach Devaney and Coach Osborne built here. We’re going to do everything we can to get the majority of that back and I think it’ll be another year or so before we start to see the benefits of it. We’re not just taking walk-ons to be out at practice and be scout team guys for us, we’re going to develop them the same way we try to develop our scholarship guys. A lot of those are going to end up being players and starters for us down the road. There’s a lot of good players in Nebraska, there’s a lot of good players in the Midwest and we’ve gotten a bunch of those guys to walk on, they’ve been in the weight room and on the field working right now and it won’t be very long before they help us win games.
On the close to the 2018 season and the growth over the last six games:
SF: Growth is the right word for it. We had a lot of growth we had to go through to get where we wanted to get. We’re still not there but I saw a transformation on the team as the year went on. We couldn’t have beat almost anybody in the country at the beginning of the year because we were going to find a way to beat ourselves or give up the plays that we couldn’t give up if we wanted to win.
By the end of the year we were battling and playing together and loving each other and had the culture built that we’re looking for. That led to a lot of close games, some that we won and some that we could have won.
I think the encouraging thing for me was Ohio State was a great team and we played them close and we certainly had every chance to beat Northwestern and those two teams were in the Big Ten Championship. We were nowhere near where I want to be as a football program last year and by the end of the year we were still competitive with the best teams in this league. I think that’s a sign there’s good things to come.
On coaches talking about culture and what kind of culture he wants to see at Nebraska:
SF: I think coaches talk about it probably too much and it gets to be cliched, but it’s true. If you have the right types of attitudes in the locker room and on the field, it’s going to lead to wins. If you don’t have it, it really doesn’t matter how much talent you have. If I really had to summarize what we’re trying to build here, it’s that I want our kids to feel like they’re part of something that’s bigger than themselves.
Life, football, everything’s about sacrifice. It’s not about what can I get for me, it’s about how can I contribute to a team or something that’s bigger than myself? If we get a bunch of guys thinking and doing things with that type of attitude and the team in mind first, we’re going to win more games than we’re going to lose.
On how long building that culture takes and whether he’s starting to see it:
SF: It really flipped last year about midway through the season. We lost a tough game to Purdue, I had several of the team leaders and captains come up into my office after that game and tell me they were going to demand change. Really that’s when everything flipped. In the locker room, the kids who wanted to do things the right way started to win out over the group that was resisting. That’s really when we became a better team and we were competitive in our league.
We’ve just been upward and onward from there. You’re never all the way there with culture, it’s constant gardening and stuff you have to do every day, just like parents have to teach their kids something new every day and keep them moving in the right direction. It’s something you’re always working on, but we’re in a lot better place right now than we were 12 months ago.
On his Year 2 at UCF and the signs of a breakthrough coming:
SF: It’s very similar tracks. We really didn’t know success was going to come and didn’t feel it coming until probably fall camp of that second year. Some pieces fell right for us, some things happened that needed to happen to have a complete team and everything just took off from there.
We really thought down there it was going to be a three-year deal, we thought in our third year—which would have been last season—that was going to be our year and things just happened a little quicker than we thought. We’re looking for a jump this year, I know there are a lot of high expectations outside the program, there are a lot of high expectations in this building for what we can accomplish.
We’ve got some of the right pieces, we’re certainly not a complete team yet, but we’re way down the road from where we were 12 months ago and I would love to see the same type of leap forward in Year 2 this year.
On outside linebacker coach Jovan Dewitt’s battle with throat cancer:
SF: He’s just starting to get back involved again. He was in my office this morning. Things look like they’re going really well for him so our prayers are with him and we’re going to do everything we can for him. One of the first messages—I learned this from Tony Dungy—one of the first messages I give the team every year is we all love football and football’s important but football isn’t life and when things like this happen, it helps you realize (that with) as much time to spend on football and trying to win games, it’s not the most important thing.
When you’re coming from that point and you understand that, I think it makes you an even better player, an even better coach and an even better team. We’re going to try and keep our priorities in place and trying to help Jovan through this is something that’s going to keep us grounded.
On anything he has learned about Nebraska after his first year:
SF: That’s a good question. I saw how the program was run when it was run the right way and we were winning. To be honest with you, I didn’t know how far from that it had gone. We’ve got it back on the right railroad tracks and we’re covering some ground here.
But, a lot of the things I loved about the program are still the same. The people of Nebraska are its best asset. The type of help you get, the type of support we have here, the type of resources we have here, it’s all in place so it’s just up to us to start running the program in a lot of the same ways it was run for 30 years when Nebraska was winning games at clip nobody else in the country could match.