Tom Osborne has become more of a fixture around Nebraska football practices now that his former quarterback Scott Frost is coaching the Huskers. Frost even said over the offseason that he thought getting Osborne back around football had rejuvenated the former coach.
“I’m glad that Scott feels that I’ve been rejuvenated,” Osborne said Wednesday outside Memorial Stadium, shortly after an event announcing new developments with his Teammates mentoring program. “I’m probably tottering around the practice field a little bit more than I used to, but not very fast.”
But Osborne was willing to admit that his interest in the season ahead is somewhat renewed, noting that the tension he feels ahead of the Huskers’ opener against Akron is at a level he hasn’t felt in “20-some years.”
“You really want these guys to be successful,” Osborne said, “you want Scott to do well. I think it will get steadily better.”
The hall-of-fame coach and all-time wins leader at Nebraska took in the Huskers’ Wednesday practice, and said he typically makes it out for two a week. The guy who Frost said “had the formula at Nebraska figured out” has liked what he’s seen so far during his visits, though it’s not a carbon-copy of the Husker teams of the 1990s.
“He’s pushing all the right buttons,” Osborne said. “It certainly gives me a lot of comfort, but he’s his own person. This isn’t going to be 1997 all over [again]. He brings a lot to the table that wasn’t here before.”
Frost’s history with the program is certainly part of the public optimism around Nebraska at the start of the 2018 season, but so is the staff’s remarkable turnaround of the Central Florida program in two years. It was an impressive display, but Osborne was quick to note that the way it was is not necessarily how it will be in terms of time frame.
“The miraculous turnaround there doesn’t mean that it’s going to be that quick and that easy here,” Osborne said. “I want people to be conscious of the fact that this takes a while.”
Osborne cited two former Big Eight coaching rivals as examples. Bill Snyder had a losing record in three of his first four seasons at Kansas State before guiding the Wildcats to a run of 11 consecutive bowl games. Bill McCartney had three losing seasons at the start of his Colorado tenure, including a 1-10 season in Year 3, but eventually led the Buffaloes to bowl eligibility and a share of the national title in 1990.
“I’m not saying that’s going to happen here,” Osborne said. “I think he’ll make significant progress fairly quickly. They’re doing the right things, there’s no question in my mind.”