Nebraska ended speculation about the future of head coach Scott Frost on Monday, announcing the former Husker quarterback would be retained for the 2022 season. Frost is just 15-27 now in his fourth season at the helm of his alma mater, which includes a 3-7 record through 10 games this fall. The Cornhuskers have yet to post a winning record under Frost and are 10-23 in Big Ten games. Frost's effort to turn the program around next fall has already started. On Monday, after athletic director Trev Alberts announced Frost's return, the head coach took a salary reduction and a lower buyout for '22, and fired four assistants from his staff.
Did Nebraska make the right decision to retain Frost for 2022? Athlon editors and contributors debate the decision:
Nebraska Football: Is Bringing Scott Frost Back for 2022 the Right Decision?
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
I think you can make a good argument for both sides of this debate, but I think retaining Frost is the right call here. Making a change would cost Nebraska $20 million, and I don't think there's a clear or obvious replacement. Using Bill Connelly's SP+ rankings, this program has improved from No. 55 nationally in 2019 to No. 24 going into the Week 11 matchup. The advanced metrics tell us the Cornhuskers are clearly a better team over the last couple of seasons, but it's not translating into wins so far. The on-field improvement for this team has been noticeable in '21, as Nebraska has played close games against Oklahoma, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State - all teams in the top 10 of the first CFB Playoff rankings. Essentially, while the Cornhuskers are 3-7, this team is really just a few plays away from 5-5 or even 7-3.
On the downside, Nebraska continues to struggle to win close games and has had major issues on special teams throughout Frost's tenure. A revamped staff has to find the right solutions to why this team continues to make the same mistakes over and over again, along with pushing the right buttons to get this team over the hump. The 2022 schedule sees a handful of swing games in Lincoln, so the expectation has to be to get to 6-6 (at least). Even if the Cornhuskers don't beat Wisconsin or Iowa next year, this program has to take care of business next fall against the Big Ten's middle-tier teams (Purdue, Northwestern and Minnesota especially).
Mark Ross (@AthlonMarkR)
Honestly, I think it was the only decision that made sense. Despite the record, I don't think anyone can't say that Nebraska hasn't improved this season. Consider that even though the Cornhuskers are 1-6 in Big Ten games, they have a plus-14 point differential. Wins and losses are the bottom line but that margin is more in line with Purdue (+13 in conference games), which is 4-2. Every one of Nebraska's Big Ten losses has been by nine points or fewer and the Huskers also hung with undefeated Oklahoma on the road earlier in the season. The next step is for Frost and company to turn some of these close losses into wins but if you take everything into consideration, I think he merits another season.
And that's without even discussing the financial aspect. Before he restructured his contract, Frost would have been owed $20 million, meaning it would have cost the school a hefty chunk of change just to make a change. Plenty of FBS programs are paying a lot of dead money (well north of $500 million, according to ESPN.com) to fired coaches, so I applaud Nebraska for not jumping on that expensive bandwagon. So again, when it comes to sticking with Frost, I think it just makes sense (not to mention saves quite a lot of cents too).
Ben Weinrib (@benweinrib)
Nebraska is the best three-win team in college football. Bill Connelly’s SP+ thinks so, grading them as the 24th-best team this season. Florida (4-5, 14th) is the only losing team ranked ahead of them, and the next closest three-win team is Florida State (48th). But with Nebraska securing its fourth losing season under Scott Frost, that tells me that he is not able to capitalize on the talent he's brought to Nebraska and is not right for this job.
It's great that Frost has brought in three straight top-20 recruiting classes, but what good does that do if your team is unable to win close games? Nebraska is 0-6 in one-score games this season and 5-18 overall in such games under Frost. College football is a sport of small sample sizes, but at some point, it’s not a string of bad luck.
Frost did a great job at UCF, but another year isn’t likely to change much for him at his alma mater. A $20 million buyout would have been hard to swallow, but the Cornhuskers are likely resigning themselves to another losing season by bringing Frost back.
Chip Minnich (@ChipMinnich)
Yes, bringing back Scott Frost for 2022 is the right decision for Nebraska. Trev Alberts also is from the Tom Osborne tree, and Alberts wants to see another Osborne legacy in Frost turn the program around. Nebraska never has recovered from its disastrous decision by then-athletic director Steve Pederson to fire Frank Solich back after the 2003 season, and Alberts is showing the long-time fans of the program that he believes Frost has the program headed in the right direction, despite the painful 2021 results. It is also worth noting that the $20 million buyout with Frost's firing would have also hurt to cough up.
Frost's decision to immediately jettison four offensive assistants on Nov. 8 also signals that major changes are on the way to Lincoln for 2022. How Frost navigates these staff changes with games remaining against Wisconsin and Iowa remains to be seen, but Nebraska will have an overhauled offensive coaching staff in what could prove to be the final chapter in this saga. Recruiting, spring football, and the season opener in Ireland on Aug. 27, 2022, versus Northwestern will all be scrutinized heavily.
Podcast: Week 10 Recap, Reaction to Coaching Changes and a Preview of CFB Playoff Rankings