Scott Frost is coming home. The Central Florida head coach, whose Knights won the American Athletic Conference championship game 62-55 over Memphis in overtime on Saturday, has agreed to become the next coach at Nebraska according to an announcement from the university. The deal is for seven years at $35 million.
“It is a great honor and privilege to have the opportunity to return to Nebraska and to lead the Husker football program,” Frost said. “I have been fortunate to be at a wonderful school the last two years, but Nebraska is a special place with a storied tradition and a fan base which is second to none. I am truly humbled to be here. The state of Nebraska and the Husker program mean a great deal to me. This is home.
“I am appreciative of the confidence [athletic director] Bill Moos and our university leadership have in me to lead this program. I would not have the opportunity to be in this position without a lot of great people who have helped me throughout my career. Specifically, I would like to thank Coach Osborne who has played such an integral role in my life over the past two decades, both on and off the field. Go Big Red!”
Frost emerged as one of the hottest coaching candidates in the country during UCF’s run to 12-0 and a conference championship in 2017. He took over a Knights program that was 0-12 in 2015, the season prior to his arrival, and improved it to 6-7 in 2016. It was the first time a school had gone from winless to a bowl in one season since UCF did it in 2004-05.
“I am thrilled that Scott is returning to his alma mater to lead the Husker football program,” Moos said. “I truly believe that we have hired the premier young coach in the country and that exciting times lie ahead.”
After a promising first season more was expected of UCF in 2017, but few expected the Knights to be this good this quickly. UCF didn’t receive any first-place votes in its division in the preseason AAC poll, but the Knights raced past all expectations in 2017. Entering Saturday’s championship game UCF led the nation in scoring at 48.3 points per game, and sophomore quarterback McKenzie Milton’s 182.9 passer rating trailed only that of Oklahoma’s Heisman frontrunner, Baker Mayfield.
That high-powered offense represents a collage of coaching influences from Frost’s career as a player and coach. After quarterbacking Tom Osborne’s last Nebraska team to a national championship in 1997, Frost spent six seasons in the NFL as a safety playing for and learning from such coaches as Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick and Mike Tomlin.
Frost’s first taste of coaching came during a brief graduate-assistant stint at Nebraska helping the Huskers prepare for the 2002 Independence Bowl against Ole Miss. He moved into coaching full time as a graduate assistant at Kansas State in 2006 on head coach Ron Prince’s staff, which included Raheem Morris at defensive coordinator – an assistant with the Buccaneers during Frost’s final NFL season – and current Penn State head coach James Franklin at offensive coordinator.
After a season in Manhattan, Frost took a job as the linebackers coach at Northern Iowa in 2007. “Everywhere you go, you’re going to continue learning,” Frost said at the time. “If you think you know it all as a coach, you’re arrogant and headed for a fall. I’ve had a chance to be around some pretty intelligent people, so hopefully I can bring a few things to the table that I’ve picked up from people smarter than me.”
A season later, Frost was promoted to co-defensive coordinator with the Panthers. Northern Iowa went 24-4 during Frost’s two years in Cedar Falls, winning two Missouri Valley Conference titles.
Frost’s early coaching career caught the attention of Mike Bellotti at Oregon, a program soon to be under the direction of up-tempo spread innovator Chip Kelly. Bellotti hired Frost as his wide receivers coach ahead of the 2009 season, giving Frost an up-close look at what would become one of the most innovative offenses of the last decade. When Kelly left to become the coach of the Philadelphia Eagles ahead of the 2013 season, Frost was promoted to offensive coordinator. His 2014 offense, led by Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota at quarterback, averaged 45.4 points per game and 7.34 yards per play, powering the Ducks to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Frost was a finalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the top assistant coach in the country, in 2014.
He will be officially introduced as Nebraska’s new head coach at a press conference scheduled for 12 p.m. CT on Sunday.