Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

Scott Frost is ready for the job.

In fact, he's been ready for some time, Tom Osborne says.

"He's about as well-prepared as anybody could be," the legendary former Nebraska football coach said of the new Husker coach. "He's seen football from many different perspectives."

The 42-year-old Frost on Sunday will view the world through the lens of the leader of a historically powerful program that's fallen on hard times, at least in terms of win-loss record and significantly diminished prestige. He made quick work of turning around Central Florida's program, but Nebraska might not be such a quick fix.

That discussion can wait. For now, we know unequivocally Frost was the obvious choice for the Nebraska job because of his soaring profile in the college game, as well as his sterling background in our state. A former Husker quarterback great, he's the right man at the right time.

Some would say, at this point in time, he was the only man for the job.

In Osborne's opinion, Frost would have been the right man for the job three years ago.

"I thought Scott was the logical choice back then," Osborne said recently. "It wasn't even close. …"

In December 2014, then-Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst surprised virtually everyone by hiring Mike Riley, who ended up 19-19 overall and 12-14 in the Big Ten before being fired last week following a 4-8 finish.

Eichorst replaced Osborne, who retired as AD in late 2012.

In late 2014, Frost was in his second season as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Oregon. He was preparing the Ducks' high-octane offense, led by 2014 Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, for the inaugural College Football Playoff. Frost was a rising star even then, often linked to high-profile job openings. But Eichorst never gave Frost a sniff. To be fair, it's not like I second-guessed Eichorst in that regard.

But now, after Frost's ultra-successful two-year stint at UCF, he represents hope for a Nebraska fan base that watched its program soften to remarkable levels under Riley. When Frost is introduced as the Huskers' new head coach at noon Sunday, many fans will recall a time when a rugged quarterback from Wood River was helping lead a wickedly tough program to a share of the 1997 national championship.

He'll encounter a program that is barely recognizable.

"One of the reasons he's the right choice is he understands some of the things you have to do at Nebraska that are unique — that you probably really only understand by having gone through them," said Osborne, who, in addition to the 1997 championship, led the Huskers to national crowns in 1994 and 1995.

Something that tends to be forgotten is Osborne not only called plays on offense for Nebraska's title teams of the 1990s, but also for Bob Devaney's championship teams in 1970 and 1971. How many coaches can say they've called plays for five national championship teams?

So, yeah, I listen closely to Osborne when he says Nebraska needs to embrace in-state talent — that is, send out offers early to scholarship-level players and lock them down while also emphasizing the walk-on program.

I listen when Osborne says the development of players is critical at a place like Nebraska, as is the case at, say, Wisconsin.

Osborne then drove home a point that surely will resonate with the portion of the Nebraska fan base that misses the days when the Huskers routinely beat the brakes off opponents physically.

"You have to develop a culture where there's a mindset, a commitment, a mentality of being physical," he said.

My heavens, that part dropped off under Riley.

Osborne didn't want to venture too far into the weeds when it came to laying out what needs to be done to regenerate the program. After all, this is Frost's show now, not Osborne's. That said, Frost has described Osborne as his "hero in coaching." Frost will seek the icon's input. Bottom line, Tom's back in the Big Red fold, the way it should be around here. I imagine he'll go back to attending games regularly after giving up his skybox last summer.

Osborne said he watched most of UCF's games this season and quite a few last season. 

By the way, Osborne seemed puzzled when I expressed surprise that he thought Frost was ready for the Nebraska head-coaching job three years ago.

"He would've been as ready or probably more ready than I was (in 1973)," said Osborne, who was 255-49-3 (.836) in 25 years as the Huskers' head man. He took over the program at age 35.

Osborne had never been a defensive coordinator, but noted Frost served in that role for Northern Iowa in 2008, when the Panthers made it to the semifinals of the FCS playoffs.

"Plus, I hadn't coached and played under some of the people that he's been under," said Osborne, referring to the likes of Bill Walsh, Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Chip Kelly and Mike Tomlin, among others.

Matt Davison, a former Husker receiver and a close friend of Frost, agrees with Osborne that Frost was ready for the Nebraska job in late 2014.

"He wasn't just the offensive coordinator by title at Oregon, he was the play-caller for a top-five offense," Davison said. "I think sometimes people try to look into it too much and try to find reasons why somebody might not be ready instead of looking at the positives that do make someone ready.

"Think about what Scott brings — a cutting-edge offense, a dynamic play-caller and how much he cares about his players. That comes from T.O."

Osborne is right, by the way: Frost has seen the game from an array of perspectives. After his career at Nebraska, Frost was drafted by the New York Jets — coached by Parcells at the time — in the third round as a safety. He had a six-season NFL career. He kept learning the game. He blazed his own trail right to UCF, where he enhanced his profile in a big way.

And now, a bigger job awaits. Nebraska is a tougher job than even UCF's. Let's be clear on that.

"Pretty much his whole life, he's been a groomed to be the head football coach at Nebraska, or to be a head football coach somewhere," Davison said.

Make no mistake, Nebraska is the place for Frost.

Right man, right time.

Even if it could've happened sooner.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.

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