Friday, January 05, 2018

Despite Recruitnik Worries, Scott Frost Wins On and Off the Field in Transition

Even before Mike Riley was officially fired, the recruiting gurus sounded the alarms over the direction Nebraska seemed to be heading.
I understood the concern and the argument, but I also completely disagreed at the time.
Let's be honest. Was Bill Moos supposed to tell Scott Frost that he couldn't coach UCF in the bowl game?  Apparently yes.  And what would Frost say to that?  Before you answer that, remember this:

Yes, it's very possible, if not likely, that Frost would have said no.

I get Schaefer's point; I really do.  With the early signing period, December recruiting has taken on increased urgency, and so Nebraska's next head coach needed to be very busy doing that. But Schaefer made the same mistake recruitniks always make:

You can't recruit your way to success.

Now, before anyone overreacts to that statement, let me explain it. It's true that championship teams tend to have come from highly rated recruiting classes (see Alabama and Ohio State).  It's also true that highly rated recruiting classes do not necessary result in championships. (See Texas)
Look at this season:  Ohio State's blowout victory over Nebraska could be explained as a "talent gap".  Ohio State's 31 point loss to Iowa could not.  And if that doesn't blow your mind, then explain how Minnesota had enough talent to beat Nebraska 54-21...but then couldn't score another point the rest of the season in shutout losses to Northwestern and Wisconsin.

Recruiting hasn't been Nebraska's problem in football in recent years; the Huskers have had the best recruiting rankings in the Big Ten's west division. Nebraska's problem has been in developing and coaching.  Bo Pelini was a good head coach...but wasn't good enough, especially against Wisconsin.  Mike Riley made the tragic mistake of dragging along coaches that had failed or were failing at Oregon State (Mark Banker, Mike Cavanaugh, Danny Langsdorf and Bruce Read) to Nebraska.

Enter Scott Frost, who has a short but attention getting resume.  Would it have been better to let Frost go another year or two Central Florida?  Maybe, but Nebraska couldn't allow Mike Riley and his clown show of assistant coaches to remain any longer.  It's hard to argue any more with a straight face that Frost isn't ready for the NU job.  Frankly, he's proven he's more qualified than everybody who succeeded his mentor, Tom Osborne.

My family spent part of New Year's Day opening gifts from part of the family; we had to be out of town on Christmas Day. But the biggest and best present I got was that Central Florida offense.  I haven't hidden my extreme disgust at the Mike Riley/Danny Langsdorf offensive scheme since it arrived in Lincoln.  It's obsolete, outdated and this season, it was simply constipated. These coaches didn't know the first thing about running the ball or blocking for it, except to throw more guys into block for it.  Which it turn brings more defenders into the box and makes it even more difficult to find running room.

Riley and Langsdorf played tiddleywinks.  Frost and Troy Walters are playing 3-D chess.  You saw what they did to Auburn.

Now, they won't be able to do this right away in Lincoln. The Huskers will have to break in a new quarterback - and probably a couple, because only Tristan Gebbia shows any signs of being able to operate a modern college offense like Frost will bring.  I'm not worried about Gebbia's size; did you see the size of UCF's Mackenzie Milton? 

The hype for Frost is going to be overwhelming; we should go into 2018 and 2019 with no expectations on the final results.  There's so much development that needs to be done behind the scenes that it's silly to expect a UCF-like turnaround.  It might be possible, but it might take a while longer.

My expectations are simple.  Show me progress, which shouldn't be difficult after the worst season of Husker football since before Bob Devaney.  Like Devaney, I think Frost has inherited more talent than the record indicated.  (I mean, does anybody REALLY believe that Minnesota and Iowa were four and six touchdowns better than the Huskers?  Or were the Big Red simply coached that poorly.)

Develop.  Regain the passion.  Show progress.  That's what I want from Nebraska football in 2018.

This is going to be fun to watch.  I can't wait for the spring game and the fall, and that's something I couldn't say the last three seasons.

No comments: