Scott Frost, in Orlando for the first day of Peach Bowl prep with the 10th-ranked Central Florida Knights, confirmed that he and his entire coaching staff will coach UCF like normal in the Jan. 1 matchup with No. 7 Auburn.
Frost, who was announced as the head coach at Nebraska on Dec. 3 and later brought his entire staff from UCF to Lincoln, will handle double duties over the next month as he prepares the Knights for a bowl game while recruiting for the Huskers as the Early Signing Period approaches. On Tuesday, during UCF’s Peach Bowl press conference, Frost said he felt it was important to do so.
“I think things had to be worked out to make sure it could happen but our whole staff, our number one priority has been and will be the players that we’re coaching, that’s what we’re in this business for,” he said. “Our staff, it’s not ideal circumstances, but they feel like the right thing to do is be 100 percent committed and dialed in to help these young guys in the bowl game.”
Central Florida’s athletic director, Danny White, said this was a decision that needed some time to work out all the logistics, but the end result was something he saw coming a while ago. Nebraska was open to Frost’s desire to coach in the team’s final game, and Central Florida just needed time to figure out how it was going to work after hiring Frost’s replacement.
“In Scott and I’s conversations as the season wound down, he was always committed regardless of what bowl,” White said. “There was never an unwavering from him in terms of his commitment to this team and seeing this season out. I’ve known all along how important it was for him to finish the season with this group.”
White was not asked about nor did he mention any firm plans in place for how to handle bowl raises to Frost’s staff, but added that it was important to keep things constant for the team.
“Our team wants consistency,” he said. “We’ve played 12 games this year and we’ve won all 12 of them so changing things up on the 13th doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”
When Frost’s assistants accepted their new positions and Nebraska, they were brought on as part-time so as to allow them to continue preparing Central Florida for its final game of the season. Frost, over the course of about 10 minutes, said often that the situation isn’t “ideal,” but they’re rolling with it.
“We’re going to handle this the same way that we would handle any bowl game of this type,” Frost said. “The players needed some time off and we gave it to them. This week we’ve got to get back to work and get the rust knocked off.
“We started that process today and then next week we’ll have three really spirited practices and then a full week to get ready for the bowl game. That’s the same way we would have handled it regardless of the circumstances.”
After losing a game early in the season to Hurricane Irma, the Knights were forced to play 12 straight without a bye week to break things up. Frost said it was important to give them time off to recover, but now that they’re back, it’s time to get to work.
Frost met with the team Tuesday morning and told them it was good to see them again – Frost said that “as long as I live, UCF and Orlando will feel like home to me and it felt like coming home to these guys” – but that his staff was “100 percent committed” to getting them ready for the bowl game.
“The energy on the field was awesome so the guys are excited about playing,” he said.
Frost added that this game will carry a little bit of extra motivation given the conference affiliations of the two opponents.
“I think we’re kind of carrying the mantle for a lot of people this year. We’re playing a team that, if the ball would have bounced a little different, could be in the playoff,” Frost said. “There’s a lot of talk about Group of Five teams and where they fit, and Power Six teams and where they fit, and I’ve got a lot of confidence in the players that we’ve been going to battle with every Saturday. I think they’re hungry to prove that they belong on that stage.”
Doing so will require a great deal of preparation over the coming weeks. The Auburn defense ranks ninth in the country in yards surrendered per play, 10th in scoring defense and 14th in yards allowed per game. Frost said he’s excited about pitting his speed against their muscle; he shot down any questions about Nebraska and cracked a joke about finally getting a “good question” when asked about matching up with the Tigers.
The Huskers will be hosting a walk-on event Wednesday night in Lincoln, a time when interested players will get the chance to meet with Frost and hear from former walk-ons about the program, and the entire staff is expected to return for that before heading back to Orlando. Frost will also still be recruiting up until the dead period, same as he would if he was still in Orlando.
“In any of these bowl games, the same operating methods would be used, coaches will be out on the road recruiting for a week and then we’d come back and coach a team and then probably go out the same day and recruit and come back and coach the team,” he said. “That’s the way these things work and that’s the way that every team that’s coaching a bowl is doing it right now. We’re going to be as committed or more committed than we would have been had nothing changed.”
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.