Matt Davison for a long time hoped this day would come.
Well, it arrived. A gorgeous and memorable Sunday. A packed room on the third floor of Memorial Stadium. A lot of smiles. A lot of chills. A lot of energy. A lot of hope. Yeah, a truckload of hope.
More than 100 of the guests were former Huskers — proud dudes who desperately want their program back.
One of those dudes, Mike Erickson, is a straight shooter from south Omaha. A starting offensive lineman during the early 2000s, Erickson liked what he felt in that big room.
"A lot of love for the program, a family feel, like this is what's supposed to be happening," he said. "Everybody's here together. It felt right."
Only the most cynical among us would try to tell you otherwise. Boy, did this feel right. This felt genuine. It didn't feel forced. We've experienced those forced feelings here in the past 15 years with at least a couple head coaches who stood before us in a big room. Many Husker fans essentially had to talk themselves into believing in those coaches.
This hire — Scott Frost as Nebraska's 30th head football coach — seemed so natural that Sunday almost felt like a holiday.
Bill Moos, the new Husker athletic director, often speaks of the importance of getting a "right fit" for a position. Same goes for NU President Hank Bounds. Well, Frost fits our landscape as perfectly as the brown leaves that ruffle in the December wind.
No wonder Bounds was almost giddy as we spoke late Sunday afternoon. He knows a dynamic leader when he meets one. After meeting Frost, Bounds couldn't say enough about the 42-year-old coach's high level of thinking. "He's a different kind of cat, really impressive," said Bounds, who stopped there, because he understands the difficult nature of Frost's undertaking and wanted to limit pressure on the new coach.
In short, Frost inherits a broken program. This doesn't look like a quick fix.
No wonder Davison, the friendly former Husker receiver, was intent on helping get this deal done. He smiled and laughed and shook hands through his fatigue. He was wiped out, because he put a lot of mental and emotional energy into making sure one of his best friends became Nebraska's head coach at what feels like a critical juncture in the program's history.
Nebraska's struggles in recent seasons frustrated the hell out of Davison. We've talked about it plenty. He's like many of us — he's watched the program deteriorate into something we barely recognize. I would have been extremely interested to hear his conversations with Frost in recent years, especially the last two. I can imagine the tone, imagine the words. I can imagine, because like Davison, I felt almost physically ill this season watching the Huskers play with an alarming amount of indifference.
Those days are over, at least as long as Frost is in charge. I'm confident of that. No way Frost would tolerate it. He cares too deeply. Cares too much about players — you saw how much he cared about his guys at Central Florida — to let them suffer through the type of season that Nebraska just endured. I'm not talking about win-loss records. I'm talking about a startling lack of passion, fight and overall preparedness.
You saw the collapses against Ohio State, Minnesota and Iowa. You know what I'm talking about.
Fast-forward to Sunday. Here came the passion. Here came Frost. Talk about quiet charisma. He commanded the big room with poise, passion, straight talk and humor. Since leaving Nebraska, Frost has developed an unmistakable presence. For some reason, it took me by surprise.
I liked the Moos-Frost tandem. Both played football at a high level. The smooth-and-savvy Moos will get out of Frost's way and let him do his thing. But Moos will be there when needed with full support. And Moos will handle boosters and media with so much flair that it'll ease pressure on his head coach.
Moos is winning over the state in a big way.
Don't underestimate Davison's role in the program's new look. He confirmed he will be an associate AD for football. Wise move. Frost will encounter rough waters at Nebraska. It's inevitable. He'll need people he can trust. Moos and Davison will be high on that list. So will Tom Osborne, who made the rounds in the big room.
I like the way it all looked and felt.
I liked it when I saw Moos shake the hand of the esteemed Mike Babcock, the former Lincoln Journal Star columnist, and tell him he was getting ready to read a couple of Babcock's books about the program.
I liked it when I heard Sean Callahan, a wily veteran on the Husker beat, say, "There have been a lot of times in the past several years when Nebraska has tried to make it feel like this, but it's the first time it's really felt like it should."
In that regard, it was interesting to hear Frost say he was glad he didn't get a call in late 2014 when the Nebraska job was open. He said the timing wasn't right for him to take over the program. He didn't elaborate, but you immediately wonder about how Frost would've reacted to a call from former AD Shawn Eichorst — Osborne's successor.
Harvey Perlman hired Eichorst with no input from Osborne. Osborne was left in the cold, feeling cold.
Bottom line, Eichorst is gone, Perlman is gone. Do the math.
"It's different people now," Davison said. "I think it's a better fit now, for darned sure."
It'll be interesting to watch the Moos-Frost relationship develop.
Meanwhile, Davison and Frost trust each other implicitly. Davison will tell Frost when something isn't right. That's critical.
"Ultimately, I wanted him to be happy," Davison said as he discussed his role in helping land Frost. "I was not going to try to push Scott into something that I didn't think he wanted. I was supportive. I thought this was the right time and the right situation for him to get into. I let him know that."
Moos and Davison gave Frost space to operate at UCF — a savvy approach.
"I think it all worked out great," Davison said. "It was not always easy. It was stressful. There was a lot of anxiety ..."
Matt looked tired. But it was a good kind of tired — the sort of tired you might feel after a big win.
It felt like Nebraska has its program back. What a big win, indeed.