Forty names, matches, teams and minutiae making the news in university football, where UTSA is part of the top 25 of the CFP this week or we are excited:
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THIRD QUARTER: CANDY CORNHUSKERS
Monday, Nebraska (21) waved the white flag, admitted defeat, declared himself a non-competitor in modern college football. Sports director Trev Albert (22) announced he is bringing back struggling Scott Frost for a fifth season on a “restructured” contract. As part of keeping Frost, a major staff overhaul saw four offensive coaches dismissed on the same day: OC Matt Lubick, OL coach Greg Austin, QB coach Mario Verduzco and coach by RB Ryan Held.
The Nebraska dynasty is long gone now, but that puts it even further underground. Just because Alberts and Frost both have ties to the Tom Osborne (23) glory days doesn’t mean they have a chance to resurrect them.
It was an aberrant time, when a school in the heart of the country with little local recruitment could carve out niches elsewhere and win with a program, a strength training program, walk-ons and an elite trainer. Those days are over, and that’s tacit recognition.
This is modern Nebraska, and it is the installation of modern Nebraska – not for good enough, not even for poor. It’s settling to lose. It goes cheap in a sport where money is currently not an object (which is actually the most defensible reasoning here). He is afraid of stiff competition in the coaching market, as many other high-level jobs are opening up.
Frost’s career record at his alma mater is 15-27. It cemented a fourth consecutive losing season. The last Cornhuskers coach who did this was Bill Jennings (24), who never produced a winning record in five working seasons from 1957 to ’61. Jennings’ winning percentage was 0.310, the worst in school history for a coach with more than two seasons. Second worst? Scott Frost at 0.357.
And now he’s getting a fifth season.
Giving Frost another year reduces the buyout tag from the current $ 20 million, and it could drop even more if the restructured contract demands it. Think Goalkeeper Manual (25) and Michigan trader Jim Harbaugh (26) in a much cheaper deal the last offseason. Although at least Harbaugh won a few games when the Wolverines decided to keep him. At least Nebraska wasn’t going to pay too much to correct former AD Bill Moos’ mistake extending Frost in December 2019. Coming out of a revenue-flattening pandemic, the school wasn’t going to leave. Auburn-stupid (27) with his money.
But that’s about the only good thing you can say about this decision. Most of the time, it’s Nebraska that naively hopes for better, ignoring what is clearly in front of it. Now it’s an administrative extension of the delusional fan who thinks the ’90s are coming back any moment.
Alberts said in a statement on Monday that he had seen “gradual progress” from the Cornhuskers since taking the job this summer. It basically comes down to being sucked in by tight losses against good teams.
Seven points for Oklahoma. Three points for the State of Michigan. Three points in Michigan. Nine points for the state of Ohio. Fine. Good show.
Now let’s take a look at everything else, which includes losses to Illinois, Minnesota, and Purdue. Frost’s combined record against three Big Ten West opponents that Nebraska never dreamed they couldn’t dominate is 4-8. He’s also 0-2 against Wisconsin, 0-3 against Iowa, 2-2 against Northwestern. Imagine what his record would be if the Huskers were in the more difficult of the two Big Ten divisions.
The “near loss” story that has been the subject of such training of late stands well after close inspection against the State of Michigan and Michigan. Nebraska led both games in the second half and had a good chance of winning.
The rest of them? Not really.
The one-scoring losses to the Illini, Gophers, Boilermakers and Sooners were all the result of late touchdowns in Nebraska that made the games closer at the end. The Huskers led zero minutes and zero seconds against Oklahoma; zero minutes and zero seconds against Minnesota; zero minutes and zero seconds against Ohio State; about 11 1/2 minutes of the first half against Illinois; and about half the game against Purdue, none of that in the fourth quarter.
Then there are the self-inflicted reasons for losing these games. They go from terrible series special teams (28) fourth year starting quarterback Adrien Martinez (29), who pushes hard but has long been prone to turnovers and precision issues, in-game training decisions from Frost. He’s been in 68 games as a varsity head coach, but he’s still making decisions that make you think he’s a rookie.
But if the Fairy Tale Oh-So-Close (30) is what Nebraska wants to hang on to, go ahead. Chances are, the Huskers are way down the pecking order in a hiring cycle that includes LSU and USC and any jobs that might open up once they’re filled.
Perhaps this is the fate of Nebraska in the 21st century: a fifth year for a guy who makes Bo Pelini and Frank Solich look like [Bob] Devaney and Osborne. Maybe the Cornhuskers are content with sub-mediocre because they know the 1990s are gone forever, and all that’s left is nostalgia, dry and withered like an old corn husk.
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