Tag Archives: Nebraska Huskers

Scott Frost Is In Over His Head At Nebraska

I have respect for the success that now-retired coaches once had. That success can be looked back upon with a feeling of nostalgia. Having respect and nostalgic reverence for that success should not mean trying to recreate what Tom Osborne built at Nebraska. In chasing Scott Frost, that is precisely what the state of Nebraska is attempting to do.

When Shawn Eichorst and Mike Riley were each fired, the attitude that oozed out of Nebraska was that this was the state’s opportunity to go back to its nostalgic past. The self-proclaimed opportunity being presented was a chance for the program to go back to its rightful place of 1990s success.  Bill Moos was hired to replace Eichorst and his top priority was to replace Mike Riley with someone who “gets” Husker football. Whatever that means.

But let’s be honest. Anyone remotely close to the Nebraska program knows why Nebraska hired a relative no-name athletic director who had made a name for himself at Washington St. He is in place to be athletic director in title only. The person calling the shots for this football hire is Tom Osborne.

Frost’s name had been a hot commodity early on in the coaching market and Florida seemed like a reasonable destination for the young coach. But then Osborne called and told his protege that it was “time to come home.” And Frost reportedly “understood the message.” 

If this call to come home did in fact happen, it’s a troubling sign for Nebraska football. It’s troubling because it’s indicative of a search that wasn’t an actual search. In addition to that, it’s troubling because Frost and Moos will be seen as Osborne’s puppets. Hell, maybe that’s exactly what the state of Nebraska wants. If its 70 year old legend won’t put the headset on again – Bill Snyder is somewhere asking “why not”- then the next best coach is a person who was a contributor to that now nostalgic glory.

Frost is a solid coach. Many programs would be lucky to have him. Just ask the University of Central Florida. Frost engineered a magical turnaround, but Orlando isn’t Lincoln. The Knights are not the Huskers. The AAC isn’t the Big Ten. You get the point.

Omaha attorney Mike Fitzpatrick is front and center in the Scott Frost fan club. He’s gone as far as to print up coasters imprinted with “Hire Scott Frost Now!”  Fitzpatrick summed up the feelings of Nebraska fans everywhere with these prophetic words.

“Mr. Moos, not being from the state of Nebraska and only being here a short period of time, hasn’t had a chance to see the culture and how we do things in Nebraska. I’m convinced the only way Nebraska is going to gain prominence again is by having one of the guys who was there at the time we were (prominent).”

This would be a tough environment for any coach to win in. Short of undefeated seasons and national championships, nothing will pacify these fans. It’s simply too much for a talented, but young coach to handle.

Is Frost going to be seen as the same kind of true son home run hire as Jim Harbaugh was at Michigan? The question has been asked. Now that the comparison is in your mind, ask yourself this: Will the state of Nebraska accept 3rd and 4th-place finishes while never beating its rival? That’s what Harbaugh has accomplished at Michigan and he’s an experienced Power 5 coach.

It’s time for Nebraska to move on from the Osborne-era. Sure, look back on his won-loss record with the respect it deserves, but these are different times. Expecting Frost to recruit to Lincoln like it’s the 1990s isn’t realistic given the changing landscape of college football. The biggest difference between college football in the 21st-century and the 1990s is social media. When Lawrence Phillips broke into Frost’s apartment, fetched his former girlfriend and dragged her down three flights of stairs, he was allowed to stay on the team. Remember what Osborne said – He just needs football in his life. That attitude won’t stand up to the scrutiny of a 24/7 news cycle.

Frost will have to run a tighter ship than what Osborne ran. If he doesn’t, he may win a championship at Nebraska, but will wind up sacrificing his career in exchange for recreating that nostalgic glory. The state of Nebraska may consider that to be a fair trade-off but I doubt Frost will.

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E-mail Seth at [email protected] 

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

2017 Big Ten Power Rankings

Only nine days until college football Week 1 officially starts, though as my fellow writer Mitch Gatzke wrote, it leaves much to be desired.  Stanford versus Rice from Australia is your headliner. Yay. Can you sense the sarcasm? For me, it kicks off on Thursday August 31st when Ohio State takes on Indiana. Speaking of the Buckeyes, based on how 2016 unfolded in the Big Ten, here are the unofficial power rankings for 2017 with that team from Ohio sitting on top. Enjoy.

  1. Ohio State Buckeyes

The Ohio State Buckeyes are completely stacked for another playoff run and poised to win a conference title. With 15 starters returning, arguably the best front defensive coordinator Greg Schiano has coached, an offensive line that features two potential first-round draft picks (Jamarco Jones and Billy Price) and the hiring of Kevin Wilson as offensive coordinator to help J.T. Barrett return to freshman form, this is by far the best team in the Big Ten.

  1. Penn State Nittany Lions

Nipping at the Buckeye’s heels will be the Nittany Lions, who went from conference afterthought to Big Ten champions after reeling off nine consecutive wins in 2016. The dynamic duo of quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley fit seamlessly into Joe Moorhead’s up-tempo, spread attack and will have four returning starters on offensive line to protect them. Yet, the luck they had last season against Ohio State will be long gone in this year’s rematch.

  1. Wisconsin Badgers

Coming into this season, Wisconsin already had a void at outside linebacker with T.J. Watt and Vince Biegel departing and then inside linebacker Jack Cichy suffered another season-ending injury. Fortunately, there is a lot of depth and experience on the defense for first-year coordinator Jim Leonhard to work with. Plus, the offensive line returns all five starters and with a more feasible schedule, the Badgers will be the favorite in the Big Ten West and a top-ten team.

  1. Michigan Wolverines

So close, yet so far away defined the 2016 Michigan Wolverines as two late season losses by four measly points cost them conference glory. Now, only four offensive starters and one defensive starter return and even more pressure will be on Wilton Speight to deliver with a new receiving corps. Jim Harbaugh has recruited some good raw talent, but I feel the Wolverines will take a small step backwards before reaching their full potential.

  1. Northwestern Wildcats

Northwestern has a solid chance to make some noise this season with a speedy, explosive defense that features a disruptive front seven and an offense with the strong arm of Clayton Thorson and the tireless workhorse Justin Jackson. Unfortunately, they’ll be without the leading receiver from the Big Ten last year in Austin Carr and need a reliable target to emerge. Also, they ranked 108th in pass defense and face their biggest divisional opponent Wisconsin in Madison.

  1. Iowa Hawkeyes

While the Hawkeyes have limited experience at quarterback with presumed first-time starter Nathan Stanley and few receiving options besides Matt VandeBerg, they possess one of college’s best offensive lines and a home-run threat in senior running back Akrum Wadley. On defense, they also are raw and young at most of the skill positions. Yes, they’re anchored by linebacker and leading tackler Josey Jewell but one man can’t do it all. Nonetheless, their ceiling is still 7-9 victories.

  1. Nebraska Huskers

Though the Nebraska Huskers started 7-0 and had a great opportunity for a championship game invite in 2016, they lost four of their final six. Now, they are in a state of transition with pro-style quarterback Tanner Lee under center trying to resuscitate an offense that averaged 211.7 passing yards a game (86th). On defense, they still have a very stout secondary in their new 3-4 scheme but with all the changes, I see more growing pains than success.

  1. Minnesota Golden Gophers

Even with P.J. Fleck’s infectious positive energy, that only goes so far. The Gophers have essentially no experience at quarterback and wide receiver besides leading wideout Rashad Still (18 catches). They’ll have to rely heavily on running backs Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks, both of whom averaged over 4.7 yards per carry and combined for 1,808 yards but the offensive line is thin and lacks depth. The defensive line is lean as well. Expect a middle-of-the-pack finish.

  1. Michigan State Spartans

Jekyll and Hyde perfectly describes the Spartans last two seasons, plunging from a conference champion to a basement dweller, and it remains to be seen if they can rebound after a rough off-season. I believe with their three-headed monster in the backfield (L.J. Scott, Gerald Holmes, Madre London; 3,300 combined rush yards)and the return of quarterback Brian Lewerke, who played well versus Michigan before breaking his leg, the Spartans will compete for a bowl bid. Anything more is wishful thinking.

  1. Indiana Hoosiers

The defense, which improved from 121st to 45th in passing yards allowed in 2016, has nine returning starters and should be the strength especially in the linebacking corps with Tegray Scales (23.5 tackles for loss in 2016) and secondary with Rashard Fant (48 passes defended). Richard Lagow has a canon for an arm but needs to work on his accuracy (17 interceptions). If the offense can cut down mistakes and the defense rises up like last season, this is a scary, dangerous team. I forecast a definite bowl game.

  1. Maryland Terrapins

A 2014 four-star recruit by 247sports, there is a lot of hype surrounding North Carolina transfer quarterback Caleb Henderson. He has good size and can run and pass as he commands Maryland’s spread offense and tries to improve an offense that averaged just 178.2 yards a game (106th). The defense is experienced with their senior-laden front seven led by middle linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. but allowed over 28 points seven times. Sadly, I see them drastically receding.

  1. Purdue Biolermakers

David Blough can air it out with the best of them but he led the league with 21 interceptions and losses his top four pass catchers from 2016. To make things even trickier, Purdue is young on offense with just one returning starter on the line so protection is a concern. Depth on the defensive line and secondary is also a weakness.  New head coach Jeff Brohm maybe an offensive whiz but he has a lot of work to do.

  1. Illinois Illini

Lovie Smith will have a tough time this season as the teams top five pass rushers including standouts Carroll Phillips and Dawuane Smoot as well as leading tackler Hardy Nickerson Jr. are gone. In fact, the defense will be very young and untested and will have one senior starter in corner Jaylen Dunlap. On offense, quarterback Chayce Crouch is healed after attempting just 32 passes and gets two formidable receivers in Mike Dudek and Malik Turner. Other than that, nothing is sound here.

  1. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Four quarterbacks are competing for the starting job and electrifying return man Janarion Grant returns. Other than that, not much to say besides good luck not losing any games by a significant margin. Every year I think they will stop getting killed, but it always seems it gets worse. Is it even possible to be embarrassed more than being shutout 78-0? I hope it doesn’t for the sake of the conference’s reputation.

E-mail Mike at mike [dot] tews [at] campuspressbox [dot] com or follow him on Twitter @MDeuces2051.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

The best chances for Summit League teams to upset the Power 5

Other than winning a conference tournament, and then knocking off a higher seed in the NCAA Tournament, there is really nothing better for smaller schools than beating a Power 5 school on the road in the non-conference schedule.

South Dakota State, South Dakota, and Western Illinois were all able to pick up wins last season against Power 5 schools, and others game close.  Will any Summit League teams be able to pick up the upset this season in November or December?  Here is a look at some of the Summit League’s best chances of picking up an upset this season.

Fort Wayne at Arkansas – November 11th

This may seem like a bit of a trap game for the Razorbacks.  Some Arkansas fans may be thinking that the Summit League favorite, Fort Wayne, is nothing to really worry about as a low major team.  The Razorbacks will be an experienced team with three seniors and six juniors on the roster, but the Mastodons have experience as well with three scholarship seniors and four juniors.

With no true point guard on the Razorbacks’ roster, Arkansas will be trying to figure themselves out in the first game of the year.  Having a problem of trying to figure out ball movement and rotations is not exactly a problem you want to have when you’re introducing three junior college players and a transfer from Colorado.

The Mastodons may also be spending a little time trying to figure themselves out in this game, but they will have a senior point guard leading the charge, Mo Evans, who averaged 17 points and 5 assists per game.  Usually when a Power 5 team faces up against a mid-major team, they have the advantage of size of depth.  Even though the Mastodons prefer to play a smaller style of play, which could be an advantage against the Razorbacks, they do have some size to match up with the Razorbacks.

Mike Anderson’s team did lose to three mid-major teams last season, including their second home game of the year against Akron.

South Dakota at Nebraska – December 3rd

South Dakota may or may not have problems this season with ten newcomers on the roster.  Okay, they are more than likely going to have problems with that.  The Coyote roster is an upgrade in talent with what they had last year on the court.  Luckily for the Coyotes, Craig Smith will be facing up against his old boss, Tim Miles, when the Coyotes go up against the Huskers in Lincoln.

Smith knows what to expect from Tim Miles and he knows what to expect in the atmosphere in Lincoln.  Like usual, there are not many people with high expectations for the Huskers this season.  The Huskers graduated Shavon Shields, who 16.6 points and 6 rebounds per game last season, and their leading scorer, Andrew White, transferred to Syracuse.  The Huskers have a young and unproven team, and they do not have a well-known leader on the team.

South Dakota also has four Nebraska-native players on the roster that will be wanting that win in their home state.  The Huskers have also lost to four non-Power 5 schools in the last two seasons, so they are not exactly invincible in games like this.  South Dakota was able to pick up a win at Minnesota last season, who was dealing with as much turnover as Nebraska will be dealing with this season.

IUPUI at Illinois – December 6th

Is Illinois still a Power 5 school?  The Fighting Illini do have some scorers on the team, but against a scrappy IUPUI defense, the team could have problems getting those scorers the ball without a true point guard on the team.  Their one real point guard, Tracy Abrams, has sat out the last two seasons with injuries. Illinois had two other players who only played in eight games last season because of injuries.  Wait, I said that wrong.  Their 6’11” center, Michael Thorne, only played in eight games due to injuries.  The other player only played in eight games because he was too busy trying to make a deal to avoid a felony charge.

With injuries and court cases, there is no telling what the Fighting Illini could be.  IUPUI’s Jason Gardner has recruited transfers and actually mature upperclassmen that can help his team right away.  Their transfers got to use last season to gel and get seasoned together, and this season they will be a serious contender for the Summit League title.

This game may actually be a mock interview for Jason Gardner at Illinois.

Western Illinois and Omaha at Kansas State

No, no, they’re not combining Omaha and Western Illinois to take on the Wildcats in Manhattan.  Kansas State will take on two Summit League in the first few days of the basketball season, and each team could give the Wildcats issues.  One should keep in mind, that while the Wildcats look like they could be in for a long season, Kansas State has not lost a home game to a non-Power 5 school since 2014.

While Bo Ryan’s autopilot was broken and set with a final destination for the bottom of the ocean, Western Illinois was able to pull off an upset at Wisconsin on the first night of college basketball in the 2015-2016.  The Leathernecks will try their luck to knock off the Wildcats on the opening night of this season.

Bruce Weber’s defense likes to create chaos and confusion to their opponents.  The Leathernecks, who placed in last in the Summit League in 2016, may be adjusted to this as they play most of their possessions as if they are being led by chaos of The Joker.  Really, it is hard to gauge how seriously to take the Leathernecks in this game.  Many people are still trying to figure out how they were able to upset Wisconsin last year.  There are a team of analysts working in 14 hour shifts, 6 days a week still trying to figure it out.

The Wildcats’ like to play a slower paced game, which could be a problem for them if they cannot control the tempo against one of the highest paced teams in college basketball, the Omaha Mavericks.  Kansas State will be playing their young back court against two starting senior guards of Omaha. The Mavericks may be able to control the pace of the game with Tra-Deon Hollins in the back court.  Hollins lead the nation in steals in 2015-2016, and will be responsible for leading the offense this season.

Email Andrew at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @AndrewInTheO.

Image via Wikipedia

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