As Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos formally introduced Scott Frost as the university’s new football coach Sunday afternoon, the scene was the envy of many other colleges.
The recently hired athletic director, whose selection surprised many in the industry, smiled and laughed alongside the former Husker whom Moos called the “premier young coach in America.” In that moment, the tumultuous two months at Memorial Stadium, which saw the firings of former Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst and football coach Mike Riley, were replaced by relief and optimism washing over fans.
The speed of that turnaround, a complete 180, is stunning. And much of the credit belongs to university leadership and their vision for the athletic programs at the state’s flagship university.
In Moos, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green and NU President Hank Bounds found a man who immediately endeared himself to the state by talking frankly and candidly, a manner that fits with the state’s personality. He seemed like a Nebraskan, despite his roots in the Pacific Northwest and doubts about how his hiring further muddied the athletic department’s direction.
Frost, meanwhile, represented the heights Husker supporters remember — and aspire to reach once again. His role as quarterback on Nebraska’s 1997 national championship team and coaching success at undefeated Central Florida dovetailed into making him seemingly every college’s top candidate, but no fan base pined for his services more than his alma mater's.
Fittingly, a major theme Frost emphasized throughout Sunday’s press conference was unity – something the mere thought of Frost’s presence on the sidelines had inspired among a restless fan base.
As the football team stumbled to close out its season, seemingly every member of Husker Nation united in embracing the idea of the Wood River native returning home to lead their beloved team. And Moos is the man who made it happen.
Frost hit the ground running, offering several scholarships to fill a recruiting class that had shrunk perilously low with the new early signing period approaching just hours after his hiring was announced Saturday. Several of those targets had previously committed to schools whose football programs were in turmoil, with prolonged vacancies at football coach or athletic director — or both — looming large.
All the while, as the coaching carousel spun at breakneck speeds, several national football writers noted Nebraska’s silence last week was the sign it had landed its man. Indeed, the unlikely candidate who became athletic director orchestrated the homecoming of the home-run hire Nebraskans dreamed of.
That pair, the newest faces for Nebraska Athletics, took center stage over the weekend. And that scene, one that elated Husker fans, was the end zone of university leadership’s impressive drive to engineer a dramatic turnaround.