It’s fitting that Scott Frost will lead off the parade of coaches when the Big Ten media daze begins on Monday.
Everyone wants to hear the prodigal son’s plan for returning to Nebraska sod and restoring the Cornhuskers to their national-power status.
Big Ten schools have brought in hot young coaches lately—notably P.J. Fleck at Minnesota and Jeff Brohm at Purdue last year. But success for the Gophers and Boilermakers is a very different deal than success at Nebraska, where national championships are the goal.
In the seven seasons from 1991-97, the Cornhuskers lost a total of eight games. That run included three unbeaten national-championship seasons. Since joining the Big Ten in 2011, Nebraska has at least four losses a season.
I had a conversation with a former Big Ten head coach about that decline a couple of years ago.
``When,’’ he said, ``are people going to realize that Nebraska isn’t Nebraska any more?’’
Outsiders may feel that way. In those little houses on the prairie, they have just been biding their time.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
An astounding 86,818 fans showed up in April for the Cornhuskers’ first spring game under Frost in the city of Lincoln. For either of the Big Ten teams in the Land of Lincoln, that would be an acceptable attendance figure for half a regular season.
Then again, walking on water in a landlocked state is a tricky deal. Who wouldn’t want to see that?
The reason for the excitement about Frost is understandable. He guided Central Florida to a 13-0 record last fall in his second season. The Knights were 6-7 in his first season after going 0-12 the year before he got there.
In addition, Frost, 43, is a Lincoln native who had a 24-2 record as the Nebraska quarterback in 1996-97. The Huskers shared the national championship in ’97, finishing No. 1 in the coaches poll while Michigan topped the media poll.
He played for the legendary Tom Osborne. Since then, Frank Solich, Bo Pelini, Bill Callahan and Mike Riley have come and gone. Even though Solich and Pelini each won more than 70 percent of their games, none of the departures were mourned.
The guess here is that all 86,818 spring attendees are thinking Frost can bring back Osborne’s kind of glory.
Count me in as an interested observer.
Yes, Nebraska has an amazing history. But at this point, I’m not sure how the Cornhuskers will manage to get a leg up on Big Ten West powers Wisconsin and Iowa, let alone rejoin their historical equals (Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State) on the Eastern side of the conference.
The move from the Big 12 to the Big Ten was a no-brainer for financial stability, prestige, academics and broadcast rights. But it also necessitated a shift in recruiting turf and rivalries. And the Nebraska tradition of winning with home-grown linemen and defenders is less effective in an era where it’s all about speed.
On the other hand, Frost learned modern offensive tactics at Oregon from no-huddle guru Chip Kelly and disciple Mark Helfrich, And what Frost accomplished at UCF is nothing short of marvelous.
Summing up. . . Can an accomplished native son restore Black Shirt defensive tradition and combine it with innovative offense principles to make Nebraska a super power again?
It’s a tall orderr. But the corn has been known to grow high in Nebraska. Shockingly high.[/membership]