Imagine if Nebraska linebacker Garrett Nelson’s throw-in of Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud took a different path on Saturday.
Maybe the ball will bounce in the other direction. Perhaps Deontre Thomas lifts the ball instead of piling into Stroud and roars for the game-winning scoreboard in a 24-23 upset at Memorial Stadium. That work deserves another look:
If that happens, then the vote of confidence conversation that Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts gave to embattled coach Scott Frost on Monday doesn’t happen. Frost will return with a restructured contract for the 2022 season. That would have been the much-needed break for the Huskers, even if the reality of the final game was a 26-17 loss to Ohio State.
It’s the right call for one more season. There is no candidate who will jump off the page for the Nebraska job. Maybe Iowa State’s Matt Campbell or Kentucky’s Mark Stoops could do a better job at Lincoln. But you don’t know how they will handle those expectations. Nebraska has won five national championships since 1970; the last came when Frost was the quarterback in 1997.
It’s fair to give every Power 5 coach a five-year window. Frost’s first four years have been difficult. No one imagined a 15-27 record with a 10-23 record on the Big Ten play. Frost made it clear that he was a brick-by-brick remodeling when he took office in 2018. The vote of confidence is similar to how Michigan athletic director Warde Manduel managed Jim Harbaugh in 2020, and aside from the collapse of the state of Michigan, the response has been encouraging.
For Frost, it’s about speeding up rebuilding to show results in 2021. Nebraska can’t count on the ball bouncing on the other side.
Nebraska has shown that it can compete with Frost. Four teams in the last top 10 were on schedule this year in Oklahoma, Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State. Nebraska lost all four games by 22 points combined. One-point losses to Illinois, Minnesota and Purdue added to the tension, and Iowa and Wisconsin are tough outs on deck.
Nebraska will likely finish 3-9 in 2021. Why is this the correct decision again? Then Alberts, another Nebraska legend of the 90s, can be absolutely sure that he will blow up the opportunity with one of his own. Frost also has a great checklist waiting for you.
Frost needs to stabilize the recruitment in the next month. According to 247Sports.com, the Huskers have the worst recruiting class in the Big Ten for the class of 2022; one that ranks 71st on the FBS. Frost could steal a page from Michigan State coach Mel Tucker’s playbook and work on the transfer portal as well, especially as a quarterback.
The Frost era has been tied to quarterback Adrián Martínez, who could still return next season. If he doesn’t, then Frost needs to find the correct answer by 2022. Frost had a great track record as Oregon offensive coordinator when he worked with Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota in 2014. He was 19-7 in two seasons with UCF . and McKenzie Milton. Frost knows the position.
It would help if the ball stopped bouncing to the other side. Nebraska ranks 88th on the FBS in turnover margin at -2. That’s the same ratio as Kansas. The Huskers also have a knack for costly wrong-time penalties under Frost.
Ultimately, it’s about winning soccer games. That’s Frost’s job, and a winning season in 2022 is almost non-negotiable right now. That starts with a trip to Dublin, Ireland, to face Northwestern.
Nebraska Schedules 2022
|August 27th||v North West (Dublin, Ireland)|
|September 3||against North Dakota|
|September, 10th||against Georgia Southern|
|September, 17th||against Oklahoma|
|24th September||at Rutgers|
|Oct. 1||against Indiana|
|Oct. 15||in Michigan|
|Oct. 22||against Minnesota|
|November 5th||in Wisconsin|
|12th of November||against Purdue|
|November 19th||against Illinois|
|November 26||in iowa|
The Big Ten East crossing schedule is also friendlier, with Rutgers and Indiana replacing Ohio State and Michigan State. A winning season is possible, but Frost will still be judged in those big games against Oklahoma, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa. Remember, the Huskers are 0-12 against opponents ranked under Frost.
It’s a daunting task, but no one checked all the boxes for this job like Frost when he arrived and the next coach will face the same challenges in a Big Ten where Nebraska has yet to assert its identity.
Frost deserves one more chance, but it’s time for the show to take its own breaks.
If it doesn’t happen next year, it’s time to move on.