Tom Osborne
Photo Credit: Aaron Babcock

Hot Reads: More than Just Lip Service to Learning

November 17, 2017

Paul Myerberg of USA Today did his best to throw water on the Scott-Frost-to-Nebraska flames this week.

Just kidding. The bucket marked “WATER” was actually gasoline. It wasn’t Myerberg’s fault. He just went to Orlando to do a story on the hottest G5 coach in the country and his rather fascinating history of coaching mentors. It’s a story that’s becoming pretty familiar, but one I never get tired of reading.

After discussing Bill Walsh, Chip Kelly and a variety of NFL coaches, here’s what happened when we reached the Tom Osborne section:

 

Then there’s Osborne, whose impact can be seen in every aspect of Frost’s program at UCF. His offense has woven in pieces of Osborne’s scheme at Nebraska. The way the Knights practice, lift weights, train, compete — all are borrowed from Osborne’s blueprint. The feeling is mutual: Osborne “thinks the world of” Frost, said White.

As a player, Frost would hear from Osborne if he didn’t cut block on the Cornhuskers’ toss plays or went out of bounds instead of lowering his shoulder along the sideline. As a coach, he finds himself echoing Osborne’s message: The first thing UCF skill players learn, for example, isn’t route trees but blocking schemes.

“I think those things have given us an edge, and those are definitely things that we’ve gotten from Nebraska,” Frost said. “I think the toughness that he brought to our program — making our team go live in the week, making it competitive, emphasizing everybody, including the quarterback, being tough — those things rubbed off on me.”

 

There are few faster ways to a Husker fan’s heart than talking about practice. No word on if the Knights are running the famed four stations — it’s barely practical given today’s numbers – but a mere mention of using Osborne’s game-week blueprint is probably enough.

And while it’s fairly easy to be a bit glib about practice talk in Nebraska given its frequency over the past decade or so, in the case of Osborne I do think there’s some meat on the bone. He did, as a young man in his first few years of coaching, basically conduct an experiment of the efficacy of different learning methods on Nebraska’s freshman football team as part of his thesis. Osborne was serious about this stuff.

I get a similar sense from Frost. While it doesn’t “cost” anything for any coach to say, “Yes, I’ve taken something from every coach I’ve played or worked for, and they’re some of the best in the game,” the returns will tell you if there’s anything behind the words.

The early returns for Frost — and they are still very early — indicate there’s something actually there.

Surfing the Back Channels

Interesting read from Richard Johnson of SB Nation, who interviewed an agent, the guys who take center stage this time of year. Well, maybe not center stage. More like off stage, but they’re the ones controlling everything at the moment as schools jockey for coaches and coaches jockey for new jobs.

The agent interviewed was granted anonymity “in order to comment candidly," and boy did he. He talks (more than once) about some of the ugly challenges he faces from schools when trying to place minority candidates. He talks about ADs with no power. He talks about the art of negotiation.

And, at the end, he talks about the rumor mill:

 

If you ask me as a man, I gotta tell you, yeah. I’m not gonna try to throw you off the scent. I know other agents that will lie to people. I’m not gonna lie.

I would get out in front of stuff, because if you were to call me and you say, “Hey man, is coach [X] a candidate at [School Y]?”

I’ll be like: “Between us, yeah, you’ll be the first to know when it happens, but as of right now I can’t tell you this, because I’m sworn to secrecy.

“So don’t f— this deal up for me.”

 

Important to remember as we continue to descend into this world of misinformation and misdirection, that almost every “leak” is part of the chess match. That’s if any leaks get out. Word is that Nebraska has kept a very tight circle around its own decision-making process to this point. There aren't many people, even those who normally would, who know anything. If something that looks legitimate comes out, it’s probably because somebody wanted it out.

And you always have to stop and wonder why.

The Grab Bag

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