It seems Scott Frost's understated style extends to his office of choice.
He conducted an extensive interview with the Journal Star on Thursday from a small North Stadium office that adjoins the spacious office reserved for Nebraska head football coaches.
He says he'll do much of his work from the small office, which in previous years was used by a receptionist.
Frost speaks softly, but doesn't mince words. In that regard, he reminds me of Tom Osborne, who happened to be visiting the coaches' offices Thursday morning.
At any rate, we covered ample ground in the interview — enough for this Q&A plus a column for Sunday's edition.
Q: You orchestrated a stunning turnaround of Central Florida's program — 0-12 in 2015 under the previous UCF staff to undefeated this past season. What would you say to people who think you can pull off something similar at Nebraska?
Scott Frost: That it's never been done before and I don't think it'll ever be done again, even by us. It surprised everybody, including me. I knew we'd be a better team (in 2017). I thought we'd win eight or nine and compete for the conference title. But a lot of things came together, and it took off faster than I thought. What people need to realize about Nebraska is it used to be built in not a quick-fix way. It was a factory. The factory existed and the greatness happened every year because of the development of players. We had 160 guys working, everybody was in the best strength and conditioning program in the country, we had the best nutrition program in the country, the work ethic was unmatched, the toughness was unmatched. In three or four years in that environment, a lot of guys would become great players. Then it happened every year because you plugged new kids into the same system, the same style of development.
If you're going to build Nebraska the right way, it's not going to be by going out and recruiting six five-star kids and putting them on the field and thinking it's going to happen overnight. It's going to happen the Nebraska way. Through hard work, through team building, through development in the weight room. It's going to be a process to get it there. It'll take time. But in my opinion, that's the right way to do it here.
Q: You've talked previously about the importance of everyone involved with the program pulling in the same direction. What exactly do you mean by that? And do you see it happening now at NU?
Frost: I'm not sure I want to answer that — at least the last part of that. But I'll just sort of repeat what I've said. When I was a student-athlete here (1995-97), everyone from the trainer to the academic people to the administration to the football coach to the fans to the average farmer in Minden — everyone knew what Nebraska was about, loved Nebraska, would do anything to support it and make it better. That's not just at Nebraska; that's any organization, any football program. When everybody knows the goals, the process you're going to use to get to those goals, and everybody goes to work pulling in the same direction, you're going to have a successful team or business. We're going to try to get that done as quickly as we can here.
Q: You surely remember when strength coach Boyd Epley used to release to the public players' physical testing results. Would you consider doing that again?
Frost: We have plans to do that (perhaps next season), but we have a lot of ground to cover before that. Listen, I want to make testing a big deal around here again. I know the whole state looked at those results. There was a lot of pride and a challenge in getting your name up on a performance-index record board and comparing yourself against other guys who have been here. I think in the future we'll get to that point. Right now, we just have to get to work.
Q: You plan to have morning practices in the spring and perhaps in the fall if class schedules allow it. Why morning practices?
Frost: Firm believer in it. … It really fits into how we want to train. There's a million reasons why practicing in the morning is better. Kids will sleep in and miss class but they won't sleep in and miss practice. When you get your exercise done in the early part of the day, your metabolism's turned on all day and you're more alert in classes. Kids aren't going to go out the night before when they have a hard practice the next morning.
Q: Husker associate athletic director for football Matt Davison, in a speech to the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, said a lack of discipline and accountability slowed the program in recent years. He emphasized accountability. Where is he coming from as you see it?
Frost: Everything Matt says, he isn't speaking for me (chuckles). I know people are going to assume that because he's my friend and he's up here (in the offices). I want Matt to have his own opinions, and we've had that talk … I'm comfortable with Matt saying what he feels. But surgeon general's warning: It doesn't always reflect the feelings of Coach Frost or the coaching staff. But I think it's true that every great football player and every great athlete longs for discipline and accountability. If we're going to be a great team, little things lead to big things. Being on time to class, touching lines, being lined up exactly right — all those things are related. When you make a habit of doing things the right way, you're a better player and things are going to work better for you. We want the guys to understand there are expectations involved with being a football player at the University of Nebraska. We're going to hold them accountable. It's even a stronger mechanism when their teammates are holding them accountable.
Q: You recently became a father. How is it nowadays, balancing being a dad with your demanding job?
Frost: That stinks. My wife (Ashley) and son are in Orlando. I'm here, and I feel like I'm missing out. So I'm going to get back there as often as I can. Ashley's half-sister is in high school and was living with us. She's a junior in high school in Orlando. Ashley's going to stay down there until the semester's over. That is hard, not being around my family. That's one of the reasons I was a little bit reluctant to take a job this year — because it was epicly bad timing from a family standpoint. Having a newborn is challenging enough. Asking your wife to be by herself raising a newborn is difficult on her. I admire and appreciate her for what she's doing while I'm trying to do my job up here.
Q: Are you a hands-on head coach (a la Bo Pelini), or more of a CEO-type (a la Mike Riley)?
Frost: It's funny — at UCF, I was as hands-on as anybody could be in the first year. In the second year, a lot of times in practice I just stood and watched. We got it to the point really fast down there that if a play was run wrong, I didn't have to stop and fix it. Our right tackle or our quarterback or some other player did. We call that horizontal leadership. Instead of it always coming down from the top, the players were fixing things, holding each other accountable, loving on each other, helping each other. Everybody was completely familiar with the schemes on both sides, so there was less coaching. You could go up to a kid and try to give him a coaching point, and he'd spit it back to you because he already knew it.
We've got work to do here in that regard. But we'll get there.