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THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by Nebraska head coach Scott Frost.
SCOTT FROST: I’m excited to be back in Nebraska. Being a head football coach is rewarding. Being a football coach is rewarding because of the time you get to spend with young men and the things you get to try to pour into them.
It’s even more special to do it around people you care about and the place you’re from and at your alma mater.
Nebraska, historically, belongs in the upper echelon of college football. Hasn’t really been accomplishing things to that degree for a while. Certainly not to the degree that the people in Nebraska and the people of the university want it to. I’m just excited to start the process of getting Nebraska back where it belongs, making it competitive and trying to compete for championships. Thrilled to be doing it at home around an unbelievable group of people.
Can’t wait to get the season kicked off.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. When you were weighing whether to take the job, what factors did you consider?
SCOTT FROST: We’ve got an unbelievable coaching staff that I brought with me from UCF. The decision wasn’t just mine. The decision that I was going to make was going to affect a lot of people. It was going to affect all the coaches, all their families, all their kids, my family.
So it was a decision we all came to consensus on. Nebraska’s a place with unbelievable tradition with great people, with all the resources we need to be a winner and a place where they’re going to allow us to do the right way and try to build a program for the long haul. And we’re going to have the time to do it that way.
All those things made Nebraska really attractive. As tough as a decision it was to leave our kids down in Florida, I think we made the right decision.
Q. When it comes to recruiting, particularly at the quarterback position, do you look at a guy like Marcus Mariota or MacKenzie Milton as a touchstone for the kind of quarterbacks you want to recruit, or is it just something that varies based on the guys you talk to?
SCOTT FROST: I think we’ve done a great job identifying quarterbacks in our offense and developing quarterbacks in our offense. I’m kind of proud of that track record. Had Marcus Mariota at Oregon, and he led the country in pass efficiency. The next year Vernon Adams led the country in pass efficiency, and last year McKenzie only second to Baker Mayfield.
I think the things our offense can do to highlight a quarterback and develop a quarterback make our offense as attractive an offense as there is in the country for a quarterback.
That being said, Marcus had three offers coming out of high school and Vernon had none and McKenzie had three. They weren’t five-star kids. But they had the right stuff. I think our quarterback coach and our staff do a great job of identifying that and putting them in situations where they can win.
The number one trait that a quarterback in our offense has to have is he has to be a fast blinker, he has to be able to process information really quickly and be a step ahead of the game. All the guys that we’ve had that have excelled have had that trait.
Q. How are you recruiting Nebraska nationally to a generation that doesn’t necessarily remember some of those glory days from the ’90s?
SCOTT FROST: Yeah, it’s been interesting. First of all, the reception that our coaches have gotten on the road has been even better than I expected. The kids are really drawn to us, and I’ve been really pleased with how kids are responding to us as a program and as a coaching staff.
But when I sit in my office with recruits, in this first recruiting cycle, the parents all remember Nebraska as Nebraska. A lot of the kids don’t remember that. It’s our job to change that. It’s our job to make sure that the new generation remembers Nebraska for what it is and what it should be, and we’re in the process of making sure that the kids that we’re going to recruit going forward see Nebraska as one of the top programs in the country.
Q. What’s the number one thing, what’s the top thing you have to get accomplished this year?
SCOTT FROST: I wish I could identify one thing. There’s just a lot of things we had to change to make sure things are done the way we want them done. Every coach has a different way, a different MO, a different process for getting things done.
I believe in ours, our formula has worked. It’s certainly helped us turn our program around the last couple of years. It’s not one thing.
We’ve got to get Xs and Os installed. We’ve got to change the way guys think. We’ve got to make sure they care about each other and making decisions based on what’s best for the team first; that we’re getting to work in the weight room and changing that; that we’re in better shape; that we get faster kids; that we recruit better.
All those things have to go together. You can’t change any one of those things overnight. All of them are a process. Sometimes it’s a challenge for a head coach to understand that it can’t happen overnight and you have to have a little bit of patience to see it through because it’s constant gardening.
But we’ve taken some good first steps and all those things have gotten better, and we’ll keep making them better.
Q. You go back to a time, connected to Tom Osborne, your strong relationship with him. You sent him out a national champion on your watch as a player. What do you draw from him as a coach both on and off the field, and how much communication do you still have with him and how you’re going to approach this job?
SCOTT FROST: Yeah, Coach Osborne is my hero in this sport, in this business. When people ask me about him, I always tell people that he was a Hall of Fame coach, but aside from that, he’s probably the best man that I know. Because of who he was and how he ran our program, every single one of us would have run through a wall for him.
And we keep in touch with him to this day. Coach is in the office probably about once a week, or else I’m out turkey hunting or fishing with him. Having that resource to be able to draw wisdom from is really invaluable to me. And I look forward to bouncing ideas off of him and getting advice from him wherever I can.
But, listen, Coach Osborne had the formula that Nebraska figured out. Some of the things he did to make the program arguably the best in the country can still work today. Nebraska has just gone away from them. We’re going to adopt a lot of things again and do it in a modern way and do it in a way that recruits and kids are going to want to be a part of.
Q. Coach, you’ve had a chance to see the playoff from a few different perspectives at Oregon, at UCF. What’s your overall impressions of it now that we’re four years in?
SCOTT FROST: I’ve been pretty outspoken about the playoff. I’ve been on all sorts of sides of it. I think it’s evolved and the evolution has been great. Growing up, it was strictly bowl games and teams couldn’t play each other. And even my senior year of college at Nebraska, every team was in a bowl alliance except the Big Ten and Pac-10 that were still locked into the Rose Bowl. We were undefeated and Michigan was undefeated. We couldn’t play each other.
Obviously that changed and the BCS happened and the best two teams in the country got to play. I think that was an improvement. Getting it to four teams was an improvement.
But it’s hard to look at last year’s college football season and not feel like an eight-team playoff isn’t where we should go. I think that’s my opinion. I think it should be five conference champions and three at-large teams. That would give a surprise conference champion that plays well at the end of the season a shot. It might give a team like we had at UCF last year a shot.
I think you could start the playoff earlier in December, not have to make the semifinal like a bowl experience. That would allow the season to end about the same time that it does with the national championship game. I don’t think it takes away from the regular season and the importance of those games. And as great as the evolution of that playoff has been, I’m always going to be an advocate for eight teams.
Q. You’ve mentioned a couple times here today that Nebraska somewhere along the way stopped being quite what it was when you played there. Have you dissected why? Is it simply a matter of recruiting? What goes beyond that or deeper than that? Can you be specific?
SCOTT FROST: Yeah, I said this a bunch locally in Nebraska. I think a different formula works at every school. The formula we used at Oregon might not work at Texas A&M, and the formula that Alabama uses probably wouldn’t work at Vanderbilt. You’ve got to figure out that formula.
Coach Osborne had the formula figured out. Nebraska stood for a lot of things when it was great. It was an organization of integrity and character, unity, unity across the whole state. We used to build it from within by developing players better than anybody else.
We went out and recruited good players that were hungry and had upside and got to work in the best strength and conditioning program in the country, with the best nutrition program in the country, best academic support in the country, best life skills development in the country.
Went out and got a bunch of walk-ons from Nebraska and from the Midwest that were hungry that were put into the same type of program and developed them, too, and by the time they were sophomores, juniors and seniors they were contributing.
The program used to reflect the people of the state. Nebraska’s best asset is its people. Has unbelievable people that are hardworking, blue-collar people that are going to care about each other.
That’s what we’re trying to get back to in our program, and that’s the way that we’re going to build it to try to make it have sustained success.
Q. You mentioned that gardening and just that changing that culture. For you in this first season, what would you view as a success on the football field?
SCOTT FROST: Success is getting better. Success is being better than we were yesterday. If you measure success just on wins and losses, you’re going to have some great moments in your life and you’re going to have some epic football.
Day by day we’re going to get better. Whatever challenge is in front of us on a daily basis, we’re going to do our best to beat it, to conquer it, overcome it and put our head on the pillow and get up and do the same thing the next day.
Results take care of themselves. If you’re better every single time you go out to practice, if you’re better every single time you go out to play a game, that’s success to me.
Q. You’ve spoken a little bit about Coach Osborne’s formula, part of that formula certainly included a legendary rivalry with Oklahoma. Since Nebraska has joined the Big Ten, it doesn’t seem as though, with all due respect to the Iowa series, that Nebraska has really keyed in on a team across the conference that that game every year it is circled and everybody in the state of Nebraska is unified for that game. Do you see a rivalry that could form, that could create and help you build that unity?
SCOTT FROST: We’re in a great league. This is arguably the best conference in the country. I think that proved out last season with the way the Big Ten competed against other people competed in bowl games. Nebraska has had historic rivalries, but part of the reason they might not have been as strong recently is Nebraska hasn’t been what it should be.
If you look at — you mentioned Oklahoma. If you look at some of the great programs in college football, to me, they have their glory days and their golden era, and almost every single one of them has gone through a rough patch afterwards. And then they get the right people back in place and get moving in the right direction and they become what they should be again.
Oklahoma is an example of that. When I was at Nebraska, they weren’t very good. With the Switzer years, they were. I grew up with that. Then they got Stoops and the guys back, and Oklahoma became Oklahoma again.
Rivalries are going to come when we’re playing the way we should. And I think the people are back at Nebraska who are going to make it what it should be in the pantheon of college football again.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
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