The Michigan State connection was very good for Nebraska during its national championship football seasons in 1970 and ’71.
Legendary coach Bob Devaney was an assistant at Michigan State in the 1950s before taking the Wyoming head coaching job and ultimately beginning the college football dynasty in Lincoln.
Frosty Anderson, one of the 2017 inductees into the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame, got his athletic start in East Lansing, Michigan, as well. His father, Forrest “Forddy” Anderson, was Michigan State’s men’s head basketball coach from 1954-65, guiding the Spartans to the Final Four in 1957 and a pair of Big Ten championships.
Before he was at Michigan State, Forddy Anderson led Bradley to the NCAA title game in 1950 and 1954.
When his father was let go by Michigan State after 11 seasons, Frosty and his family moved to Scottsbluff in 1965, the fall of his freshman year of high school.
Forddy took over as athletic director and basketball coach at the recently opened Hiram Scott College (which closed in 1972), accepting that job over a position with a new NBA franchise that year — the Chicago Bulls.
“I had been a Michigan State fan all my life,” said Frosty Anderson, who lives in Lincoln and manages the Morgan Stanley office. “When we moved, I had no idea about Nebraska football. It didn’t take long to make that connection.”
Devaney knew Frosty’s father from their days at Michigan State, so it was no surprise that NU began recruiting the all-state split end his senior season as a Bearcat. Husker assistant coach Jim Ross was there when Frosty ended his high school career with a touchdown catch from his close friend and quarterback Tom Engleman with 20 seconds left to tie Fremont in the 1968 championship game of the Big Ten Conference (the former Nebraska high school conference).
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“There’s no question that connection got me my scholarship to Nebraska, a good, lucky connection,” said Anderson.
He proved more than worthy of it during his career. Anderson lettered on the Husker national championship squad in 1971 and saw extensive playing time in 1972. Perhaps his biggest claim to fame came in the Orange Bowl that season, when he hauled in a wingback pass from Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers for a touchdown in the blowout win over Notre Dame in Devaney’s final game as coach.
“While that ball was in the air, all I could think was ‘This is a perfect pass, just don’t drop it,’’’ said Anderson, who sprinted the final 20 yards into the end zone like a deer. “I was running so fast because I was scared to death.”
He earned all-Big Eight honors as a senior in 1973, Tom Osborne’s first year as head coach. Anderson, a member of the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame, caught 27 passes for 524 yards that season and led the conference with eight receiving touchdowns and a 19.4-yards-per-catch average. He was also named an Academic All-American.
After what Anderson described as a “brief career” with the New Orleans Saints, he moved back to Lincoln and never left. He’s been giving back to the local sports community ever since.
He’s coached in the Lincoln Youth Track Club, directed meets and served as a track official for USA Track for many years. He and his wife, DeEtte, have been heavily involved with the YMCA sports programs, and they helped coach their childrens’ various youth sports teams while they were growing up.
Both daughter Emily and son Giff were standout athletes at Lincoln Southeast in the 1990s. Coincidentally, this year the Hall of Fame will be honoring the golden anniversary of Scottsbluff’s 1967 state football title team and 1968 boys track state championship squad, which Frosty played on, and the silver anniversary of Southeast’s 1992 girls state cross country title team and the 1993 girls state basketball champions, which Emily was a part of.
“I was raised in a big-time sports environment, so athletics have always been a big part of my life,” Frosty said. “You develop relationships that last a lifetime through sports. Tom (Engleman) became my greatest friend. He was the best man in my wedding and I was the best man in his.”