Frost is still looking to push the right buttons at his alma mater
On Dec. 3, 2017, Scott Frost was announced as Nebraska football's new head coach. There’ve been plenty of ups and downs since but recently, it's been a run of bad luck. Frost is 8-11 as the Cornhuskers' head man. Three of the best players on the Big Red's 2019 roster (Adrian Martinez, Maurice Washington, and Wan'Dale Robinson) are badly dinged up and one may be gone for good.
It's been a while since Frost has had it this bad during his football career.
He's had some of the best tutorings of any FBS football coach. Bill Walsh, Tom Osborne, Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Mike Tomlin, and Jon Gruden. It took all of one season at Northern Iowa before he was promoted to co-defensive coordinator. The 12-3 Panthers would tout a top-10 scoring defense as a result.
Eugene, Oregon, eventually came calling in 2009 and Frost started his rapid ascent. He turned receivers into capable blockers which led the way for the Ducks' speedy running backs. Following Chip Kelly's departure and Mark Helfrich's promotion to head coach, Frost's offense shined.
You know the drill. The uniforms, Marcus Mariota, and a national championship berth. He was 33-7 as a member of the Oregon staff and never did his offenses finish worse than sixth nationally in both points and yards per game.
Then, it was time for The Turnaround. Again, we all know the story. Frost shows up in Orlando and flips the script at UCF resulting in an undefeated season and national championship claim (the validity is yours to determine).
What happens next is something that could only come out of Walt Disney's imagination. The former national championship-winning quarterback comes home to lead his alma mater as its head coach.
But the shine of his hire has lost a great deal of its luster as Nebraska sits at 4-3 coming off a bye week. Dismissed by Minnesota 34-7, the Huskers are now scrambling. They must make a bowl for the first time in three years. Put as much emphasis on the word "must" as you want. You won't be overdoing it.
When was the last time Frost didn't seem to be having any fun as a competitor? He certainly wasn't enjoying answering question after question about Washington who, as of this writing, isn't a member of the team.
It brought him no joy to declare Blackshirts-inspired alternate uniforms would be worn against Indiana because, well, his team is running out of home games to wear them for.
See, the guy's been a constant winner. Before we got to the part about working to recreate Nebraska how he saw fit, the man got jobs based on the fact that he's won repeatedly. The last time Frost was so publicly shaken was about 23 years ago. If you're a Husker fan, it's seared into your memory.
The year was 1996 and the place was Tempe, Arizona.
Nebraska was fresh off being arguably the best team that ever played college football and punched then-Michigan State head coach Nick Saban's Spartans in the teeth 55-14. No. 1 Nebraska was flying high. Nothing was going to stop them and the home-state kid from Wood River at the helm from making even more history.
Then Frost and the Huskers would run into the 17th-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils led by two guys named Jake Plummer and Pat Tillman. A 26-game winning streak was shut down in the desert. The Big Red never scored and surrendered 19 points.
From there, it seemed like Frost made a pact with his conscience. Losing in that way — or any way — would never be acceptable going forward. And other than getting upset by Texas in the 1996 Big 12 Championship Game, Nebraska didn't lose another game during Frost's tenure as the starter for Osborne's last two teams.
He played in the NFL and things never really stuck, but a five-year career beats the average. Coaching was clearly his calling and well, here we are. This is uncharted territory for Frost. A 4-8 first season, well, you can write that off in 10 different ways.
An inconsistent offense, a defense that's ineffective for whatever reasons and a special teams unit riddled with injuries — or rather how the team got to be this way — is harder to dismiss.
There are plenty of questions more than halfway into Nebraska's 2019 campaign. Frost is under pressure he may never have felt before. It's even heavier than when he first accepted to job to be branded nothing less than a savior. But what he's facing has precedence.
As one of the greatest authors of our time once said, "When something bad happens, you have three choices. You can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you."
He had that moment in Tempe where losing stopped being an option. He's again under a spotlight as hot as the desert he took a tumble in. It's just as big as the one before: the size of a state that watches over him 24 hours per day, seven days per week. But the temperature is unlike anything he’s had to bear yet.
That's why the future is so scary for many Nebraska fans right now.