On 1620 KOZN radio in Omaha, John Bishop and Josh Peterson agreed they’d never seen the type of unfettered media access from an athletic director that Bill Moos has offered. While I in no way claim to have access to his request files, I’d wager he’s answered the call on at least a majority of them.
However, while his openness with the media has been a stark contrast to his predecessor, it may have backfired, if not caused Moos to tip his hand.
He took to the airwaves last Tuesday to speak with Nick Bahe. The topic everyone in the state of Nebraska either loves or hates came up.
“How familiar are you with Scott Frost and how closely are you following what he’s doing at Central Florida?”
That’s a tricky topic. Naturally, Moos has to keep a public fondness for the golden boy of the 2017 coaching searches, but his enthusiasm for Frost far overshadowed anything he’s said about current Nebraska football head coach Mike Riley since becoming athletic director.
Moos praised Frost’s work at Oregon, mentioning he’s got the “full package” as a coach.
“Scott is going to coach in a Power Five — probably sooner than later — and he has paid his dues, I’ve been quite impressed with that; having never really met him but just watching his work from afar.”
There was more, but that alone is a far more ringing endorsement than calling Riley “his coach.” To me, anyway. It appears I wasn’t alone in my perception as ESPN picked up the story.
While the Huskers may soon court Frost, a school just up the road from UCF actually has a head coaching vacancy right now. Florida is eyeballing Central Florida’s head coach heavily after having recently jettisoned Jim McElwain.
Assuming he lives up to the hype, can you imagine what he could do with Florida’s resources versus UCF’s?
Meanwhile back at the ranch, Brendan “Bookie” Radley-Hiles would decommit from the Huskers’ recruiting class later that same Halloween evening. You may say, “Sure, these 17- and 18-year-old kids don’t know what they want. They decommit all the time, and don’t you dare try to tell me this one was special.”
Well, Bookie is special. No offense to any other prospects, but Bookie led the charge for Riley in terms of peer recruiting. He has a presence about him. When he spoke, other recruits listened — he’s no small part of the reason why Nebraska has the studs it does…for now. His departure signals far more than a simple change of heart, though.
While other members of Nebraska’s coaching staff certainly played a role in his recruitment, no one could claim more responsibility than Riley and his wife, Dee. In fact, Bookie publicly commented that he was a year-long silent commit after meeting the Rileys at last year’s Friday Night Lights camp. I recall watching him pal around with them and the late, great Husker offensive line coach Milt Tenopir.
Clearly, Radley-Hiles felt at home.
However, this is now a troubled home. As much as it probably killed him, I can see Riley doing everything he can to assure Bookie that he needs to take his talents where he feels all of his dreams can be realized (and he has some big ones).
Back to the original topic, Moos — while lauding Frost — never once took a moment to step aside and back “his coach” at all. Later in the day, the recruit who was least likely to leave Riley’s side did just that.
How can we not take both of those things as strong evidence that Riley not only will be gone at season’s end, but that Frost is the No. 1 target? If Moos has made up his mind, that’s all well and good. That said, he has put a number of people into difficult positions — himself included.
First, what about the 2017 Nebraska Cornhusker football team? How is this coaching staff and roster supposed to react when people can see the writing on the wall? It’s an amazing Catch-22. If the Huskers lose, the flames will be fanned by fans about Riley needing to go. If Nebraska beats everyone left on the schedule, Moos can ax Riley even with a massive upset at Penn State, saying he didn’t win those big games often enough. That statement would sound familiar to the fan base, recalling when Bo Pelini was dismissed.
Second, if he has already made his decision, I would like to think Moos is championing Frost because he’s in his back pocket. If that’s the case, it’s hard to think the former Husker quarterback wouldn’t coach his UCF squad through the AAC Championship Game on Dec. 5 before heading to Nebraska.
That gives him 15 days to have contact with any and all unsigned prospects as the Big Red’s new head coach (officially) since there’s a brand new early signing period instituted this year. Any JUCO recruits who have made up their minds can sign then, too. Frost would then be tasked with cobbling together a transition class built on hope and brand (both Nebraska’s and Frost’s).
Maybe all of these dominoes were ready to fall and Moos merely knocked one over on Halloween (accidentally or not). However, if they’re not, Moos may have sent a Rube Goldberg machine in motion that could end up with Frost in the SEC and Nebraska scrambling to find someone else.
If Moos doesn’t deliver Frost to this fanbase, I do know one thing. As unpopular as Shawn Eichorst may have gotten, he never lost as much political capital as quickly as the Huskers’ new athletic director would in that scenario, barring a home-run hire. Even then, people will still be upset. Especially if the Nebraska boy excels elsewhere.
Like every winter, whenever there’s a frost warning, roads become tricky to traverse. How many lanes Moos cut his down to with a single interview should make Mother Nature jealous.
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