Scott Frost leaves UCF for head-coaching job at Nebraska

6:26 PM ET

Scott Frost is coming home.

Frost, a former quarterback who led the Nebraska Cornhuskers to a share of the 1997 national championship, has been hired as the school’s next football coach, it was announced Saturday.

“It is a great honor and privilege to have the opportunity to return to Nebraska and to lead the Husker football program,” Frost said in a statement. “I have been fortunate to be at a wonderful school the last two years, but Nebraska is a special place with a storied tradition and a fan base which is second to none. I am truly humbled to be here. The state of Nebraska and the Husker program mean a great deal to me. This is home.”

The university said Frost agreed to a seven-year, $35 million contract.

The 42-year-old Frost has led UCF to a 12-0 season after the No. 14 Knights beat No. 20 Memphis 62-55 in double overtime to win the American Athletic Conference championship game Saturday.

With the win, UCF clinched a berth in a New Year’s Six bowl game, likely the Chik-Fil-A Peach Bowl. UCF athletic director Danny White said Frost plans to coach in the bowl game, but he will hand game preparation duties to offensive coordinator Troy Walters, who was named interim coach Saturday by White.

“I’m proud of this coaching staff and the group of people we assembled to coach these guys,” Frost said during the championship game trophy ceremony. “I think we’ve given a lot to this program and these kids. But this city, this university and these kids have given even more to us.”

Frost, who will be introduced as the program’s 33rd head coach Sunday in Lincoln, replaces Mike Riley, who went 4-8 for the Cornhuskers this season — his third at Nebraska.

“I am thrilled that Scott is returning to his alma mater to lead the Husker football program,” athletic director Bill Moos said. “I truly believe that we have hired the premier young coach in the country and that exciting times lie ahead.”

Nebraska will owe $3 million to UCF, who paid a combined $3.7 million to Frost over his two seasons.

Frost, who is a semifinalist for the George Munger National Coach of the Year Award for a second straight season, formerly coached at Oregon under Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich, coordinating the Ducks’ high-powered offense from 2013 to 2015. He landed at UCF in December 2015 and posted a 6-7 mark one year after the Knights finished 0-12.

He becomes the fifth Nebraska coach since the 1997 retirement of Tom Osborne, who closed his 25-year career by coaching Frost to an undefeated season.

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  • No. 12 UCF captures AAC title over No. 12 Memphis in 2 OTs

    Central Florida for the second straight week prevailed in a shootout on its home field.

  • From Wood River, Nebraska, Frost began his collegiate career at Stanford in 1993, declining an offer from Osborne to play for his home-state school. He transferred to Nebraska in 1995 and delivered an impassioned speech to pollsters after Osborne’s final game for the coach to earn a share of the national title.

    The 80-year-old Osborne remains a mentor to Frost and a large-looming figure in Nebraska. Moos, in fact, sought the advice of Osborne after Moos arrived from Washington State in October, hired with the charge to restore success to the storied football program.

    “I would not have the opportunity to be in this position without a lot of great people who have helped me throughout my career,” Frost said. “Specifically, I would like to thank Coach Osborne, who has played such an integral role in my life over the past two decades, both on and off the field. Go Big Red!”

    Osborne, in a recent interview, described Frost as “the whole package.”

    Moos said after the season that he identified six candidates as potential replacements for Riley. Clearly, though, Frost sat atop the list. And the admiration was mutual, apparently, as Frost declined an opportunity to visit with Florida last week about the Gators’ opening before the hire of Dan Mullen.

    Nebraska most recently won a conference title in 1999 and owns a conference record of 34-24 since it joined the Big Ten in 2011. Riley posted a 19-19 mark in his three seasons.

    Kansas State, wrote that he loved Nebraska football and the state of Nebraska.

    “I long for the days when the characteristics of the team we put on the field on Saturdays exemplified the characteristics of the hard working people of our state,” Frost wrote at the time. “We used to have the Taj Mahal of college football programs. Now it feels like someone took 40 tons of dynamite to our proud and noble masterpiece and built a three bedroom ranch in its place.”

    ESPN’s Darren Rovell contributed to this report.