When coaches start getting fired after a season ends (any season, really, in any sport), the repercussions can be insane. With football, it’s even more intense. You have college coaches going to the NFL, NFL coaches going to college, and 17 year-old kids recruited by one coach suddenly playing for another — which is how, ultimately, kids like Bryce Petty end up at Baylor.
Yesterday, Nebraska fired Bo Pelini after seven seasons as their head coach. He consistently won nine games or more every year, and won about three times as many games as he lost, but they never won a Conference Championship, they were blown out by 40 points in the 2012 Big Ten Championship to a Wisconsin team they ranked ahead of entering the game, and Pelini never seemed to be a big fan of the fan base.
Who’s going to replace him? Oh, you know.
Before we get into Scott Frost and his credentials in a second, consider this: if and when Brady Hoke is fired at Michigan, that means the three prominent open jobs this off-season will be:
Nebraska is an interesting situation. In terms of those other two jobs, there are concerns/roadblocks. Florida plays in the SEC. Alabama is very good, always. Tennessee and LSU were very young, and will be very good. UGA is always a factor. Texas A&M had a down year, but should rebound. In short, it’s hard to win there — and I’m saying that completely ignoring the renaissance of the two Mississippi-based teams in the conference this season. (Although, ironically, Dan Mullen might end up as the head coach at Florida.)
Michigan is a place you can win quickly — heck, Brady Hoke did that — but the Big Ten will be dominated by Ohio State and Michigan State for the next few years, or at least until Urban Meyer and/or Mark D’Antonio get other jobs. Those are Michigan’s two biggest rivals. You absolutely need to get a coach in there who can go 1-1, 2-0 vs. those teams for five straight years. If the coach can’t, he’ll be fired in 3-4.
Nebraska is interesting because the Big 10 is good, but not great — and the pressure is different, because your biggest rivals aren’t the top dogs.
In short, if you get a good hire at Nebraska, you could probably win 9-10 games a year — if not more — even faster than at those other two schools, recruiting areas be damned.
Here’s the man coming to Lincoln, you’d assume:
Former Nebraska QB!
He’s associated with the Oregon offense, which puts up crazy amounts of points. Unless the Ducks lose (again) to Arizona this Friday night, they should be in the first-ever playoffs. His associations with Oregon also means he’s tied to Chip Kelly (who hired him), and Kelly might be the hottest name in coaching right now. (His Eagles might get a bye in the NFC Playoffs.)
Marcus Mariota is likely headed to the NFL, so this could be a good time for Frost to leave Oregon.
The central problem here, of course, is that Frost has never been a head coach, and Athletic Directors don’t tend to love that when hiring new head coaches. (Plus, Pelini had never been a head coach, and … look how that ended.) Nebraska is a pressurized program — you can win 9 games a year for 7 years and get canned — so Frost would need to be ready for that.
I know there’s a vast difference between running an offense and being a head coach — a head coach is more akin to a CEO, making sure the “brand” of the program is right (which starts and ends with winning games, honestly) — but I feel like Frost is a good bet. He was even born in Nebraska. He understands the story of the program and the relevance of the program to the state.
You can go get other guys — like Troy Calhoun or Greg Schiano or even a Jim Tressel — but Frost seems like a good, ‘you-can-go-home-again’ type of call here.
Bruce Feldman knows what’s up in CFB (fun fact: I used to edit his ESPN Insider columns) and he believes in this too:
And think about this too:
(Frost was at Stanford before coming to Nebraska.)
One thing that could throw a wrench into everything here: the guy making this Nebraska hire is Shawn Eichorst, the Athletic Director there. Most of his career is tied to UW-Madison. Paul Chryst was the OC there, under Bret Bielama, and is currently the head coach at Pitt. They just went 6-6 this season, but did beat BC (who beat USC), Virginia Tech, and Miami — none of those are “quality wins,” but you could spin it that with more resources, he’d do better. So Paul Chryst is a possibility. (Eichorst spent a few years at Miami too, but I can’t see Al Golden jump for the Nebraska job.)
Should be Scott Frost, but will it be? Time will tell:
(Probably no decision this week, as I’d assume Frost is focusing on the Pac-12 Championship Game this Friday night.)