LINCOLN, Neb. — From the growing file on strange-but-true recent happenings around Nebraska football, Ronnie Green, the university chancellor, two weeks ago touted his connection to Scott Frost, commenting in a public forum that his wife’s roommate as a freshman in college was a first cousin of the? UCF Knights?coach.?
Green was serious, apparently, though it’s not easy to tell these days.
As coaching-change season nears full speed nationally and headlines connect big names to openings at Florida, Tennessee and UCLA, Frost — the 42-year-old former national championship-winning Nebraska QB — is the hot-ticket item in his home state.
Hotter than hot, actually.?
Those Nebraska fans who applaud visiting teams, who were cut from the stoic mold of Tom Osborne, yes, they’ve gone full-on SEC-style crazy over Frost. Is he their home run ex-quarterback hire, a la Jim Harbaugh at Michigan and Mark Richt at Miami? People desperately want to know.?
Never mind that the Cornhuskers still have a coach. That’s a mere formality, it seems, ahead of a season-ending clash with Iowa in Lincoln on Friday. Soon after, Nebraska is expected to part ways with Mike Riley, 19-18 in three seasons.
And all eyes can officially turn to Frost. Unofficially, that happened weeks ago.
The Sept. 21 firing of Shawn Eichorst as athletic director triggered rampant speculation about Riley’s future. And as the Huskers slid toward their third seven-loss regular season in 57 years, gossip intensified. New athletic director Bill Moos, hired Oct. 15, did little to calm matters.?
Like the chancellor, Moos talked openly of his admiration for Frost. Nebraska fans took it as their cue.
Meanwhile, UCF kept winning. The Knights are 10-0 and ranked 15th this week as they ready for a showdown with 9-1 South Florida (3:30 p.m. ET Friday, ABC and the ESPN app). Nebraska and Iowa kick off 30 minutes later.
The attention of Husker Nation, no doubt, will be divided. Fans are pining for Frost so much, said Nick Handley, co-host of Omaha Sports Insider, a daily talk show on KXSP-AM, that their collective mood in a dismal season has been buoyed by his anticipated return.
“Everybody sees the writing on the wall,” Handley said. “Everybody knows a change is imminent. And they all feel it’s going to be Scott Frost. It’s weird. Nebraska fans are excited for it to be over with, so they can see what is next.”
Another Omaha radio program, Unsportsmanlike Conduct on KOZN-AM, is staging a mock tournament dubbed “Scott Frost vs. the World,” with listeners voting on a 32-person bracket of potential Riley replacements. The winner will face Frost this week in the finals.?
Expect the native son took it in a landslide.
Frost internet memes abound. The Omaha World-Herald sent a reporter to Orlando, Florida, for the Knights’ Week 11 win over UConn. Frost declined an interview with the newspaper, but a front-page story followed — and not the front of the sports section.
Florida too is viewed as a suitor for Frost, in addition to others in the Power 5. He might opt to stay at UCF. With the spotlight so bright, in fact, Frost has withheld the name of his newborn son from the media.
On Saturday in Philadelphia, three fans, dressed in Nebraska gear and toting large signs, implored Frost to return to Nebraska. After UCF beat Temple, Frost was questioned during a press conference about speculation that he had been offered a lucrative contract by the Huskers.?
“Totally false,” Frost said.?
Some fours later across the same state, Riley fielded a question about Frost after the Huskers lost at? Penn State.
“I don’t know anything about that,” said Riley, whose unpretentiousness while on the hot seat has added another layer of peculiarity to the ordeal.
Even as the big decision nears, Moos has not hidden from public view. Nebraska fans’ passion for Frost is admirable, he said.
“There’s a lot of pride there,” Moos told ESPN.com. “And I really like that. I think that’s really a big part of the fan culture at Nebraska. I’m not going to say they cling to the past, but those are memories. They remember those players.
“We want to make sure that we’re still doing that 20 years from now. And that’s part of the task ahead.”
Frost, it’s worth noting, won that championship at Nebraska? exactly?20 seasons ago. Moos has done his homework. In that way, the Huskers’ new boss fits in well.