College Football
Scott Frost and Nebraska look to find footing in Ireland
College Football

Scott Frost and Nebraska look to find footing in Ireland

Updated Aug. 25, 2022 4:08 p.m. ET

By RJ Young
FOX Sports College Football Writer

No one needs a productive season — at least one that ends with being bowl-eligible — more than Scott Frost.

For his Nebraska Cornhuskers to secure a spot in a bowl for the first time in five years, they’ll need six wins, a pursuit that starts Saturday in Dublin, Ireland, when they take on Pat Fitzgerald and Northwestern in the Aer Lingus College Football Classic (12:30 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app).

Last year's game against the Wildcats was one of the most rewarding of the Frost era, a 56-7 stomping. The Huskers punted just once in that game and were up 35-7 by the end of the first half.


The issue? That win was one of just three in 2021, 15 since Frost took over the Huskers program and just 10 in four years against Big Ten competition. 

Frost, a favorite son of Lincoln, the quarterback who led the Huskers to their last national championship, was thought to be the man most capable of returning the program to that 1990s-era of dominance when he was hired in December 2017.

He had made a mark as an offensive coordinator at Oregon, producing a prolific offense, a Heisman winner at quarterback and a berth in the 2014 national title game. During Frost’s time, the Ducks won 33 games and lost just eight. He took his offense and his coaching acumen to UCF in 2016, flipped a losing program into one that ran the table undefeated and made a case for the 2017 national title.

Then he came home, and the result was akin to Thomas Wolfe’s novel: "You Can’t Go Home Again." Instead of a quick return to glory, his Huskers have yet to finish higher than fifth in the Big Ten West. 

But Frost is still trying, and that means mixing a bit of what worked last season with what he has seen work elsewhere.

The Huskers return 46 letter winners, including five starters on defense and four on offense. They also added 44 new faces, including 22 transfers.

Working around a change in athletic director, a 20 percent reduction in his salary, and a one-year show-cause penalty and fine for an NCAA violation, he made changes this offseason — not an easy thing to do, as history shows.

Florida was a national title contender in 2020 when Dan Mullen received a one-year show-cause penalty. The following year he became former Florida coach Dan Mullens and is occupying a chair at a studio in Bristol now.

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Frost hired offensive coordinator Mark Whipple away from Pittsburgh after a year in which he developed Kenny Pickett into a Heisman finalist and first-round selection in this year’s NFL Draft, as well as developing the nation’s reigning Biletnikoff Award winner in Jordan Addison

"I'm really looking forward to turning a lot of [the offense] over to him," Frost told me at Big Ten Media Days last month. "I think there's gonna be a good mix of what we've done and what [Pittsburgh has] done. And he's really smart. We just have to find a way to work together and put together a good product." 

Interview with Nebraska coach Scott Frost

Nebraska head coach Scott Frost sits down with RJ Young to discuss new quarterback Casey Thompson, how he's preparing for his team's season opener in Dublin, Ireland, and more.

Frost continued overhauling the offensive staff, adding former Husker and one of the best wide receiver coaches in the country in Mickey Joseph — who developed the devastating triumvirate of Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson and Terrace Marshall on a national champion LSU team — and offensive line coach Donovan Raiola. 

Frost recently caused a stir when he volunteered that his new offensive line coach was so tough on his unit that Frost himself sees "15-20 vomits every day from offensive linemen." Whether that was hyperbole, Frost is setting a tone that echoes back to the Bob Stoops era at Oklahoma, when Stoops praised how much tougher his unit had become under first-year O-line coach Bill Bedenbaugh.

That year, 2013, the Sooners beat Nick Saban and Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. If Raiola can help keep Texas transfer and starting quarterback Casey Thompson upright and make holes for JUCO All-American tailback Anthony Grant to run through, Nebraska fans ought to feel damn good about the direction of their team.

Grant rushed for more than 1,731 yards at New Mexico Military Institute and averaged better than seven yards per carry in 2021.

The first test arrives Saturday.

As for preparing to play a football game in Europe, it is perhaps akin to playing dogfight football — offense and defense at the same time.

"Yeah, it’s mostly mentally right now," Frost told me. "With a game like that, a lot of it has to come down to how well you're able to handle it. And we're gonna go over there a little early, and make sure that we get adjusted to the time. 

"I want our guys to understand that that challenge is in front of them, make sure they know the details. So we can try to handle it like pros."

Northwestern isn’t exactly threatening to play in the College Football Playoff, but the Wildcats have shown fits of fighting, particularly in 2020 when they ended up in the Big Ten title game, playing an Ohio State team that ended up in the national title game. 

And while Fitzgerald will want to return to that form with an avenging win against the Huskers, it’s Frost who has his back against the wall. 

"We got a lot of the right people," Frost told me. "We got to do a good job of making sure that group of people comes together as a team. Anytime you bring new people on board, you gotta get everybody on a greater than on the same page. And we've done a good job of that in the offseason, but there's still work to be done." 

The Huskers are 14-1 all-time in August, and Frost would like nothing more than to come back stateside with a win. After all, he’ll be coming home again.

RJ Young is a national college football writer and analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the podcast "The No. 1 Ranked Show with RJ Young." Follow him on Twitter at @RJ_Young, and subscribe to "The RJ Young Show" on YouTube. He is not on a StepMill. 


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