Nebraska did Scott Frost a favor by firing him Sunday and forking over the extra $7.5 million in buyout money they could have saved had they waited 20 days. Athletics director Trev Alberts said all the right things about why Nebraska made this move when it did. He talked of the players needing a new energy and vision. He talked of a team in need of a jolt of confidence. But we all know there’s no saving this already lost season for Nebraska.
Nebraska is 1-2 with losses to Northwestern and Georgia Southern and games against Oklahoma, Purdue, Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin on the horizon. Interim coach Mickey Joseph should run for governor if he is able to get this team bowl eligible. Nebraska also fired Scott Frost when they did because it was the “nice guy” thing to do for a former Husker player. They gifted $7.5 million to a coach that completely failed them. And being the “nice guy” is partly to blame for the Huskers' recent misery.
How Did Nebraska Get Here?
Let’s review. Nebraska fired Bo Pelini after a 9-3 season because ... he yelled a lot and said curse words on the sideline? The man went 67-27 over 7+ seasons as the Husker big boss. Sure, Pelini stepped in it when a 2011 recording of him ripping into “fair weather Husker fans” was released but that’s hardly a fireable offense for a coach with a .713 winning percentage. Nebraska countered by hiring 61-year old Mike Riley, a proverbial football “nice guy.” He proceeded to go 19-19 over the next three seasons. Then came program savior Scott Frost, who went 16-31 over the next 4+ years.
There are a lot of reasons it didn’t work with Frost; being a “nice guy” isn’t one of them. Ask anyone who has covered Frost and they will tell you he isn’t the warmest or the fuzziest. And no one can blame Nebraska for hiring Frost. It looked like a no-brainer decision after his success at UCF.
So where does Nebraska turn now? It needs to turn the page on the past and embrace the present.
Nebraska has as rich a tradition as any program in the sport. 46 conference championships, 5 national championships, Osborne, Frazier, Rodgers, Rozier, Crouch, etc. They should embrace that history while also recognizing Tom Osborne ain’t walking through that door anytime soon. And don’t confuse Osborne’s soft spoken, humble demeanor as weakness. His Nebraska teams were ruthless, a model of precision, physicality, effort, and discipline that put opponents in a meat grinder for 60 minutes.
But coaches and players today don’t care about what Osborne teams looked like. They see Nebraska as a bygone, middle of nowhere outpost where two straight coaches went to die. What they do care about are opportunities to win, resources, facilities, and money. And Nebraska still has those components.
The Right Coach Can Win With The Huskers
If you want to look at the bright side of gifting Frost that bonus $7.5 million, it put out the bat signal to coaches across America that Nebraska has money and will spend. This will lead to the inevitable assembly line of big-name coaches flirting with the Huskers to get a raise at their current job (hello, Mike Gundy) but it’s also a good start for the Nebraska sales pitch. And Trev Alberts and the university will need to pitch their next coach if they want to hire a proven winner.
This isn’t a list of coaches that Nebraska should hire. It’s how the Huskers need to pitch themselves during the hiring process:
Notice I didn’t mention a thing about running the option or hiring a soft-spoken midwestern coach. Nebraska need not worry about their past. The Huskers need to hire a coach that will instill a culture of discipline and efficiency while possessing the ability to bring in a top-notch staff.
The Big Ten West is mediocre at best. Nebraska is a sleeping giant. It’s time to wake up.
Chad Withrow hosts “OutKick 360” weekdays from 3-6pm ET on the OutKick Network. You can email him at Chad.Withrow@OutKick.com