Nebraska football head coach Scott Frost preached a tried-and-true narrative on Wednesday that becomes more apparent by the week as the Huskers drop close game after close game.
Doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result isn’t a possibility.
Hence, Nebraska football made in-season, wholesale changes not previously seen since former Nebraska head coach Frank Solich’s tenure in 2002.
Now that the dust has semi-settled following the program parting ways with four assistant coaches on Monday, Nebraska football is currently mired in extreme amounts of uncertainty heading into its final two regular-season contests and an extremely significant offseason.
The sudden change took players, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, by surprise on Monday when the news broke, and both Frost and Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts found it difficult, too. Frost said Wednesday that both he and the team are “hurting,” following a sobering few days for the program.
“Those guys have done an unbelievable job of helping us get better,” Frost said at Wednesday’s media availability of former offensive coordinator Matt Lubick, former quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco, former offensive line coach Greg Austin and former running backs coach Ryan Held. “They’re all, like I said, good coaches and even better men.”
Frost said that he and Alberts had been in constant communication about the best way to move forward with the current staff. He also addressed a commonly raised concern about the timing of both the announcement of his restructured contract and the firing of four assistant coaches, noting the importance of entering the recruiting process and a full offseason with what is essentially a blank slate.
Exactly how Nebraska plans to fill that open assistants slate is yet to be seen, at least according to Frost. What is known, though, is that both Alberts and the head coach have discussed a long-term vision of shifting Frost’s responsibilities to more of a “CEO-type” coach with responsibilities spanning off the field, too.
Frost confirmed that vision on Wednesday.
“This job is bigger than a lot of other jobs, there’s just a lot more that has to be done on the field and off,” Frost said. “Frankly, I’ve been wearing myself pretty thin trying to run the offense and call the offense. And it isn’t just gameday, it’s all week long, and there are probably areas of the program that I could spend more time with if I wasn’t so occupied with that.”
According to Frost, those areas include spending more time with fans, attending more booster events and indulging in more stress-relieving activities like spending more time hunting in Western Nebraska.
Still, though, Frost and Alberts have an offensive staff to assemble, and Frost spoke plenty on Wednesday about the characteristics he’s looking for in filling those positions.
Long-term, as noted in the press release announcing the departure of Verduzco, Held, Austin and Lubick, Frost is looking for new offensive ideas. He astutely noted that, in past seasons at Nebraska, he’s been “surrounded by a lot of guys that know exactly what [he] knows.”
Moving forward, while not looking for wholesale offensive change, Frost reiterated he is interested in bringing in coaches with different offensive perspectives and ideas, ideas different from those he has been around previously. However, one critical value stands out above the rest as Frost looks to turn his offense over to a potentially unfamiliar face.
“It’s not going to be easy, I’ve got to find somebody that I trust,” Frost said. “I’m an offensive guy, I’m always going to have something to do with [the offense].”
The Huskers aren’t even close to the position of giving specific names to fill open positions, but Frost said Wednesday that he wants to move towards filling open spots on staff as soon as possible. While some potential options, according to Frost, are still busy with other positions, Nebraska is beginning to have vital conversations about the best fit for Frost’s staff.
Filling positions like offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach are two openings that have dominated headlines, but Nebraska’s lack of a full-time special teams coordinator was also addressed. Frost remained non-committal about hiring someone to fill that role over the offseason, noting the job that assistant coach Mike Dawson has done with Nebraska’s special teams.
“I’ll tell you what, Mike Dawson has done a great job running the special teams,” Frost said. “Obviously he has people in the building that are helping him with that. Our special teams have vastly improved, our specialists, we need to continue to get better in those roles.”
While Wednesday offered some insight as to where Frost and Alberts’ heads are ahead of a monumental offseason, the most immediate concern is attempting to finish the regular season strong.
For the final two games of the regular season, senior offensive analyst Ron Brown is taking over the running back room, offensive quality control coach Steve Cooper is in charge of Husker quarterbacks, offensive analyst Mike Cassano is manning the wide receivers and senior offensive analyst Frank Verducci is leading Nebraska’s offensive line.
Frost said that his team is committed to giving maximum effort in Nebraska’s final two games, and that he has yet to hear from any players planning to opt-out of contests against Wisconsin and Iowa.
In a difficult situation and circumstances, the Huskers appear committed towards banding together ahead of an uncertain future.
“This team is a high-character team, they’ve got a lot of grit. These guys will keep fighting,” Frost said. “When you go through hard times, you don’t have much choice but to give up or come closer together, and I know this team will come closer together.”