Tom Osborne says it's been two decades since he's felt the sort of butterflies he's feeling this week.
As Scott Frost's debut as Nebraska's head football coach nears — kickoff for the Akron game is set for 7 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium — Osborne watches the goings-on in the Husker program with keen interest.
In fact, one might say he's emotionally invested, considering his close relationship with Frost.
"I'm not uptight or anything, but I probably feel a little more tension than I've felt for 20-some years because you really want these guys to be successful," the former Nebraska head coach and athletic director said Wednesday. "You want Scott to do well, and I think it'll get steadily better. It may not be overnight. But you can just see consistent progress."
Osborne will watch the game in a North Stadium skybox suite, where he says he has "a few seats." He gave up his skybox in North Stadium before last season, but still attended most of the home games as Nebraska slid to a 4-8 record, leading to the ouster of head coach Mike Riley and the hire of Frost — who led the Huskers to the national championship in 1997 in Osborne's final season as head coach.
As athletic director from 2007-12, Osborne hired former Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini. Riley succeeded Pelini and was 19-19 in three seasons, including 12-14 in the Big Ten.
Osborne noted how Frost has reshaped Nebraska's roster, bringing in 50-plus new players.
"Of course, that has to reinvigorate the culture, the atmosphere, the work ethic and the accountability part," Osborne said. "Everything I've seen him do is right on track."
One of the new players is Adrian Martinez, a true freshman quarterback who will start against Akron.
"It's not very often you see a guy 6-3, 220 with that kind of speed and mobility," Osborne said. "He's a real threat running the ball, and he's a very good passer, too. Quite a combination of skills."
Osborne made his comments following a news conference outside Memorial Stadium in which he unveiled a program designed to attract mentors for his TeamMates program. Osborne spoke to reporters near a statue of Bob Devaney, telling those on hand of the ways Devaney changed the culture of the Nebraska program upon taking it over in 1962.
"I think Scott understands a lot of the things that I talked about here," Osborne said. "That certainly gives me a lot of comfort. But he's his own person. This isn't going to be 1997 all over again. He brings a lot to the table that wasn't here before."
Frost has said Osborne makes frequent appearances in the coaches' offices, and seems to be rejuvenated.
"I'll have to ask Nancy that," Osborne said of his wife. "I'm glad that Scott feels that I've been rejuvenated. I'm probably tottering around the practice field more than I used to, but not very fast."