Hot Reads: A Critical Companion to 'Frosty Our New Coach'
Photo Credit: James Wooldridge

Hot Reads: A Critical Companion to ‘Frosty Our New Coach’

December 22, 2017

What’s your favorite Christmas song? I don’t think I could ever answer that question on an all-time spectrum, but over the last 18 hours or so my favorite Christmas song to analyze, however, has been this one:

It’s an adaptation, obviously, that I assume must be titled “Frosty Our New Coach,” and man if that first line isn’t catchy. Also, the moment at the 18-second mark when the student pulls a corn head out of the bag is fine filmmaking. You don’t see all of it, but you instantly know what it is and, thus, what’s in store.

The interesting thing about folk music – this is that, and I was going to say “great thing,” but I honestly don’t find most folk music great, present example excluded of course, more part of the historical record – is that it often provides a sense of place. The advantage music has over other goods improved by being local (e.g. food, sometimes wine, crafts, etc.) is that it is the most portable. If you want to understand what life was like at a certain place in a certain time in history for the people who were living it, find their songs. It might be on a piece of paper, a little bit of magnetic tape or from the mouth of a stranger from a strange town whistling an old tune, but wherever and whenever you find it, just know that it will get you straight to the id.

All of which is to say, this Scott Frost Christmas anthem is a field recording of what life was like in Nebraska in December of 2017.

As best I can make out, these are the lyrics:

Frosty our new coach,
had to journey all this way.
(unintelligible due to loud applause)
. . . save the day.

Oh, coach, we need you,
we’re so glad that you are here.
Teach the offense how to run the ball,
and the defense not to fear.

(segue to “Dear Old Nebraska U”)

It’s the second quatrain here that really jumps out. I’ve written and read a lot of words about the hiring of Frost, but I’m not sure anyone has captured this hire better and more succinctly than what is in these 26 words. Nebraska needs Scott Frost. It’s glad he’s here. The task ahead is modest. Simply save the day. Maybe those are word choices made based on rhythm or rhyme, but they end up being the right ones.

And then there’s a mention of running the ball. If you’ve ever wondered just how deep this state’s ties to rushing the football run, here is evidence that, perhaps, they might run all the way to the heart of an elementary school music teacher (who I presume must have written the lyrics). Whoever that person was, they didn’t have to come up with this line, simply access it. It was there all the time, perhaps subconsciously. Run plays are so deeply rooted here that it doesn’t even matter that Frost’s 2017 UCF team ranked 67th in run percentage (54.4%), just over a point below the national average of 55.6.

But Frost is a Nebraska guy. He knows what he needs to do.

It was at this point that I couldn’t help myself from wondering what it would be like if this exact scenario played out in other college football locales. Say Mike Leach, in a comeuppance that would be delightful for all to witness, returned to Texas Tech. Would the local elementary Christmas carol contain a mention of the importance of extra wide line splits? Are Gainesville-area school children currently trying to melodically manifest some fun n' gun into Dan Mullen’s offense?

I sort of doubt it. While one of my core beliefs is that most things are the same, Nebraska’s allegiance to ground-based gridiron tactics required a very unique set of circumstances over a specific timeframe. It’s like a rock formation. There are many interesting ones throughout the world, but this one happens to be ours.

And then there’s the closer, a continued exhortation to Frost to teach the “defense not to fear.” It works on multiple levels. Nebraska’s 2017 defense under first-year coordinator Bob Diaco often looked timid and uncertain. That needs to go.

But it could also be a reflection of some of the quiet worry in some corners of Husker Nation about UCF giving up 97 points over its final two games. I say focus on the fact that those 97 points were nearly a third of the Knights’ total on the season, but maybe the kids have put it more eloquently and succinctly again. If your defense is flanked by an offense like UCF’s, there is little reason to fear allowing the occasional touchdown. Odds are extremely good the offense will get one on its next possession anyway, so chase negative plays, go get the ball, be aggressive. The cost-benefit analysis here is really easy to calculate. 

It is possible that “fear” was just the word that worked within the structure of the song, but it did end up being precisely the right one again. Can we send this song straight to the state archives? It’s a tour de force. The perfect song at the perfect time.

I eagerly await the oral history of “Frosty Our New Coach” that simply must be written 20 years from now when all of those kids are beginning grown-up lives. If things work out as described in the song, Frost will be Nebraska’s “old coach” by then, though, at 62, he’d still have a lot of years left as a coach if he wanted them.

The Grab Bag

  • Yesterday I asked for a data-driven breakdown of early signing. Tom Luginbill of The All-American delivered. By his estimate, about 70 percent of availabe prospects are or will be signed.
  • Paul Myerberg of USA Today on Scott Frost's blueprint for Nebraska football.
  • Good interview with new offensive coordinator Troy Walters from Sports Nightly last night.
  • ICYMI: Nebraska added a signee on Thursday, and Jacob Padilla looks at the Huskers' need for more production at center (the basketball one).

Today's Song of Today

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