As winter momentarily released its heavy-duty grip, Bo Pelini went for a jog in downtown Lincoln.
It was February of 2003. He'd been hired as Nebraska's defensive coordinator in late December of 2002 in the wake of the Huskers' 7-6 regular season. He hardly knew his way around town.
But folks recognized him as he trotted through downtown.
"Go Big Red!" they yelled.
The immediate attention startled Pelini, recalls Brendan Bussmann, director of operations on former Nebraska head coach Frank Solich's staff.
Pelini came to Lincoln from the Green Bay Packers. He had hardly been in town a month, and folks recognized him? Really?
"Nobody's ready for that," Bussmann says.
Scott Frost would be ready for that.
Pelini's out of the picture now — for the most part, anyway — and as we impatiently wait for Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst to hire Bo's replacement, we consider a litany of questions, including: Should Eichorst hire a head coach with previous experience in that role, preferably at a mega-program along the lines of Nebraska?
Say, a Jim Tressel (intriguing).
Or a Dan Mullen (growing on me).
It says here previous head-coaching experience would be nice for the Nebraska position, but not required. Just get the right guy, period.
Maybe that's former Husker quarterback great Frost, Oregon's 39-year-old offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Or perhaps it's Tom Herman, Ohio State's offensive coordinator of the same age.
Check out the latest College Football Playoff rankings. Six of the top 10 teams, and three of the top four, are led by men who had no previous major-college head-coaching background.
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All told, it's 10 of the top 25.
Oregon's Mark Helfrich was elevated after four years as the Ducks' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
TCU's Gary Patterson spent three seasons as the Horned Frogs' defensive coordinator.
Jimbo Fisher was Florida State's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for three seasons before his ascension.
Bussmann, now a senior-level administrator at the largest hospital in Nevada, understands the unique challenges the Nebraska job presents. He worked draconian hours with Husker coaches. He beat his head against the office walls right along with them.
Bottom line, Bussmann feels a chief operating officer (i.e., coordinator) in a major-college program could be equated to a CEO (head coach) of a mid-major. In other words, perhaps Frost is indeed ready for the monster that is Nebraska football.
I'm inclined to believe that's the case.
I'm told he feels he's ready for the role.
Frost, formerly of Wood River, made it clear to me as far back as July 2011 he "absolutely" aspired to become a head coach, saying he has "a lot more to give as a coach."
He's cerebral, grounded and possesses big-picture savvy. He has a quiet presence, sort of like Tom Osborne in ways. By the way, Osborne had no head-coaching experience when he took over the Husker program. And like Frost at Oregon, he started out as a receivers coach.
Whoever replaces Pelini obviously will walk into a challenging and somewhat charged situation, in part because Pelini was popular with his players — a lot of them, anyway. Definitely the ones who frequent Twitter.
On Tuesday night, several players tweeted about their goodbye meeting with Pelini at Lincoln North Star High School. The tone of the tweets suggested Pelini wasn't in the mood for diplomacy. That's unfortunate, if true. I hope the players weren't put in the middle of the mess. But Pelini often fostered an "us-against-the-world" mentality.
"There's a lot more than meets the eye people," tweeted senior linebacker Austin Williams.
"If you guys only knew how bad the administration messed up," tweeted sophomore offensive lineman Sam Hahn.
Yeah, the situation feels unique on a few levels. It obviously would be helpful if the new guy had the sort of background and persona that commanded immediate respect — but a lack of head-coaching experience shouldn't be a deal-breaker.