Following a two-year stretch that has seen the Nebraska football program post a 9-15 record, Scott Frost found himself needing a new linebackers coach and in an unenviable position. While he dipped back into the band of brothers that he brought with him to Lincoln in rehiring Mike Dawson, Frost made a move that should be seen as encouraging to Husker fans.
The coaching business can be a cruel mistress and it's never fun to let go of a close colleague. However, it's hard to argue that the Nebraska wide receiver corps didn't regress as a whole under Troy Walters and while he did hold the title of offensive coordinator, Frost is the one calling plays. As a result, the university and the now-former Husker coach decided mutually to part ways.
There came a point where the return on investment had to be considered and Walters simply wasn't producing what the head man wants and needs. Going beyond the surface of how Frost has handled offseason staff changes thus far, here are three things his recent decisions say about his attitude towards the Husker football revival attempt.
1. Frost isn't afraid to part with UCF continuity
When the entire crew that eventually led the Knights to a 13-0 season came with him to his new gig, several questions popped up. Would Nebraska's new head coach be able to let any of them go if their units suffered and, if so, how long would that take to become a reality? Now we know.
The Huskers haven't seen much long-term staff continuity in recent years. While Frost never wants to retain members of a coaching roster that aren't pulling their weight should that be the case, there's a lot to be said for familiarity at a program.
It's also important to point out that he chose to tear the Nebraska program down to its foundation and rebuild. As such, time is needed to give coaches a fair chance to prove they can develop the players they are given. If they make it obvious this isn't happening at all or worse, things take a step backward, and that demands action.
As tough as it might be to let go of friends or people who helped prop you up as you climbed the ladder, college football is very much a business. Frost is now taking the actions of a proper CEO.
2. Wide receiver production demanded an upgrade
Exit Troy Walters, enter Matt Lubick.
In 2019, the Huskers had JD Spielman as a primary target and true freshman Wan'Dale Robinson emerged as a reliable option. However, no other member of the receiving corps could be counted on as a constant threat and defensive coordinators knew this. To make matters even more frustrating, aside from Spielman and Kade Warner, aggressive engagement in blocking wasn't anywhere near as effective or consistent as it needed to be.
Lubick's resume paints him as just the type of guy Frost wants as an offensive assistant, especially one working with his wideouts. He was responsible for helping a 2012 Duke program reach a bowl for the first time since 1994. As a result, he was named one of three finalists for the American Football Coaches Association's Assistant Coach of the Year award.
He then spent four years at Oregon working with the wide receivers and put on the offensive coordinator cap once Frost left for Orlando. Following two years with the Washington Huskies as a co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach, he took a break. Now, he wears the scarlet and cream.
No, Lubick will not suddenly assist quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco in transforming Adrian Martinez into Joe Burrow 2.0. But Frost clearly identified that a key aspect of his offensive vision wasn't being realized under Walters. Bringing in a coach who can work to provide Nebraska's quarterbacks with receivers that can give them dependable options aside from their No. 1 was paramount.
3. More recruiting firepower has been added
There's nothing like a little friendly competition. When it comes to recruiting, seeing who can snag the most top-notch prospects among the reshuffled coaching staff appears to be only one of the future benefits of the Lubick hire. Between Ryan Held, Travis Fisher, and Lubick, the Big Red has a potent trio that can sell Frost's vision on the recruiting trail.
Named as the No. 34 recruiter in the country for the class of 2018, Lubick was the lead recruiter of three four-star prospects (Marquis Spiker, Austin Osborne, and Trey Lowe) who eventually signed with Washington. He also helped the Huskies lock down former Nebraska quarterback target Colson Yankoff, another four-star recruit.
During his days at Oregon when he worked with Frost, Lubick secured a trio of four-star recruits in for the Ducks' 2015 class in Alex Ofodile (Columbia, Mo.), Kirk Merritt (Destrehan, La.), and Malik Lovette (Redlands, Calif.).
If Nebraska is going to get back to competing for Big Ten West championships, the Huskers need elite talent. The addition of Lubick to Frost's staff appears to be a positive step in that direction.