Frost begins bowl prep with UCF
Scott Frost has played or coached in seven New Year’s Day bowl games and will be on the sideline for an eighth in less than three weeks.
This one, of course, is a little different than his past experiences.
Frost, though, said he and the new Nebraska coaching staff – which is also, for all intents and purposes besides recruiting, the Central Florida coaching staff until the Peach Bowl against Auburn is over – will just try to keep things as normal as possible.
“In any of these bowl games, the same operating methods would be used,” Frost said during a Peach Bowl news conference in Orlando on Tuesday. “Coaches would be out on the road recruiting for a week and then (this week) we’d come back and coach a team and probably go out the same day and recruit. ... That’s the way these things work and that’s the way every team that’s coaching a bowl is doing it right now.”
The catch for Frost and his assistants, though, is that the recruiting they’re doing is on behalf of Nebraska.
So, here’s how the month of December breaks down for the Knights, per Frost.
UCF players were going to get a full week off regardless of Frost taking the NU job, because they had played 11 straight weeks due to early-season cancellations and changes stemming from Hurricane Irma. In that week, Frost was introduced in Lincoln, hired his entire UCF coaching staff, and they spent the week on a recruiting tear all over the country. This week, they’ll run three UCF practices in Orlando and recruit for NU as well. They’ll be back in Lincoln this weekend for another full set of official visits before a recruiting dead period begins Monday.
At that point, the staff will be back in Orlando for, “three hard practices,” Frost said, before the team gets a couple of days off ahead of Christmas. Then they’ll travel to Atlanta on Dec. 24 and begin their bowl-week schedule.
“You get done with the season, they guys need a break so we let them rest,” Frost said. “Now it’s a matter this week of knocking the rust off. We’re going to have our coaching staff out in force on the field to make sure the guys are getting their legs back under them this week. We’re going to do a lot of game-planning over the course of this week and make sure that our schemes on both sides are the best we can come up with. …
“That’s been our formula wherever I’ve coached whether it’s Oregon or anywhere else.”
Frost confirmed that he and the entire staff will coach Jan. 1 when UCF takes on Auburn in Atlanta, meaning all of the game-day responsibilities from the regular season are likely to carry over, including Frost calling the offense.
New Nebraska offensive coordinator Troy Walters was named interim head coach when Frost officially accepted the job here – and there’s also new UCF head coach Josh Heupel – but Tuesday’s news conference seemed to make it clear that Frost will be running the show as it pertains to the bowl game.
“I know our team wants consistency,” UCF athletic director Danny White said Tuesday. “We’ve played 12 football games this year and won all 12, so changing things up on the 13th doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
“I can tell you that Scott and I’s conversations as the season wound down, he was always committed, regardless of what bowl. At that point we didn’t know what bowl we’d be in. The chance of him potentially moving on and what the plans would be, there was never a wavering form him in terms of his commitment to this team and seeing this season out.”
There did seem to be some uncertainty last week, though, about how the details would all work out. Frost told Mike Golic and Trey Wingo on their national radio show that the exact operations were up in the air and signaled that some of the talks with UCF officials were about money.
“We’ve just got to make sure all those things are worked out,” Frost said then. “We’ve got to make sure UCF honors its commitment to take care of my assistants with the bonuses they’ve earned. There are a lot of things to work out.”
On Tuesday, the 42-year-old from Wood River made it sound as if that had happened.
“Some things had to get worked out and I can’t tell you how good of leadership is here on campus,” he said. “UCF’s leadership on campus and in the athletic department is second-to-none. Things had to be worked out to make sure it could happen, but our whole staff, our No. 1 priority has been and will be the players that we’re coaching. That’s what we’re in this business for.
“It’s not ideal circumstances, but they feel like the right thing to do is to be 100 percent committed and dialed in to help these young guys in a bowl game. I think that gives us the best chance to win the game and that’s what we’re going to do.”
There are surely some sticky points. Nebraska flipped Justin McGriff, a Tampa, Florida receiver who had been verbally committed to UCF, on Monday night. Players know that when the coaches leave the facility they’re going out recruiting in NU gear rather than Knights apparel. Whether this all works relatively smoothly likely depends on the perception of how UCF plays against the Tigers. Until then, Frost said everyone involved will just keep working.
“As long as I live, UCF and Orlando will feel like home to me and it felt like coming home to these guys,” he said. “The energy on the field was awesome, so the guys are excited about playing. Like I said, these aren’t ideal circumstances, but we’re all dialed in and committed.”