Several months ago, the idea of having Scott Frost be Nebraska’s next head coach seemed to be most appealing to a large group of fans and the vast majority of college football journalists. The story has so much potential to turn into something straight out of a motion picture.
The prodigal son returns. He once led his team to a national championship on the gridiron. Now, he tries to lead his alma mater back to greatness and beyond as head football coach! That’s the stuff Hollywood blockbusters are made from, which is appropriate considering that Bill Moos is breaking the bank to get not only Frost, but every assistant his new head coach wants to entertain a new contract.
Here we are. It’s done. It’s happening. Yes, there are still some who aren’t thrilled with this and that is their right. I, however, cannot wait for this ride.
That’s the thing, though. I’m not the only one and I can actually feel that.
There’s a feeling of unity that hasn’t been around since, dare I say, Tom Osborne’s final season in 1997.
After Nebraska was plastered by Colorado 62-36 and dissected by Miami in the 2002 Rose Bowl, the clear division began. The threads of the finely-knit sweater that is Nebraska football fandom were yanked even harder when firings were done at improper times.
If Steve Pederson was going to fire Frank Solich, he should’ve done so after the Huskers went without a winning record for the first time since 1961 in 2002. But he didn’t. Instead, he chose to let him loose after a 9-3 regular season and a 31-22 win over Colorado in the regular season finale. This was after Solich made coaching changes to address problems seen the year before.
Some fans did want Solich gone and they didn’t care about the timing, but there were plenty who wanted him around and were extraordinarily mad at Pederson.
Next, Pederson bungled a coaching search that looked amazingly like current-day Tennessee’s and ended up with a coach who, ironically, another fan base didn’t want anything to do with. Enter Bill Callahan.
Everything about the Callahan era was awkward from the first press conference until the day he was fired. There’s been a lot of talk by Bill Moos about “fit.” Callahan absolutely did not fit. He’s one of the best offensive line coaches in the game, but he’s not the guy to be Nebraska’s head football coach.
There was some unity at that point. Most were happy when Bo Pelini was tabbed to be the new head man by Tom Osborne, who had taken over for Pederson and cast him into the shadows. Despite how rotten Pelini’s disposition grew (and his comments about both fans and the new athletic director who handed him his walking papers) some Big Red backers still pined for him following his departure. Some still do.
Then, Shawn Eichorst — who, if you’re keeping score, fired Pelini a year too late — brought in Mike Riley, who was seen as an underwhelming hire. Eichorst also didn’t make any statement about Nebraska football being in any kind of rebuilding mode as he clearly should have. Regardless of opinions on Pelini or Riley, fans were being pulled in multiple directions. It was incredibly stressful and, quite frankly, tiring.
Nebraska football was in a unique situation when school president Hank Bounds and chancellor Ronnie Green stepped in to handle not only the removal of Eichorst but the hiring of his replacement in a very public and transparent way. It was clear that football was a priority all the way to the top if it wasn’t before.
Enter Bill Moos. This guy knows how to work a room. Whether it’s full of boosters, media or even a recruit, Moos has a charm about him that eases tension and he can massage egos effortlessly. It’s safe to say that Nebraska fans like Moos after the whole “delivering Scott Frost as head coach” thing. While Riley was incredibly likable, genuine and classy, he didn’t win. Ultimately, that’s what the job’s about. It is what it is.
Whether you’re the president of the university, the chancellor, the athletic director, the board of regents, coaches, fans or even the Valentino’s vendors, there’s a common bond. 20 years have passed since the stars have aligned like this in terms of one vision for the future. Perhaps now Husker Nation can truly relax and be patient.
Frost is many things. He is a former player at both the college and professional levels, an alum and a rising young star. The vast majority of the entire Husker universe should be on board with this. No matter where you sit, you can root for the part of Frost that connects with you the most.
And that’s a reason for this hire that shouldn’t go unrecognized.