The worst-kept secret in college football is a secret no longer.
Scott Frost is coming home.
The 42-year-old from Wood River is set to be named Nebraska’s head football coach, sources told the Journal Star. A news release is expected Saturday, followed by a noon Sunday news conference in Lincoln.
Minutes after his No. 14 Central Florida team knocked off No. 20 Memphis, 62-55 in double overtime in Saturday's American Athletic Conference Football Championship, the game broadcast showed Frost with tears in his eyes as he embraced Knights players. Asked in the post-game news conference whether he'd addressed his team about his future, Frost said, "I haven't talked to them yet, and I will."
It was a celebration-worthy season, as UCF moved to 12-0 with the title game win and likely clinched a berth in Jan. 1's Peach Bowl as a result.
"This has been fun," he said. "This game was fun, last game (a 49-42 win over South Florida) was fun. This season’s been fun. This has been the best year of my life."
Frost, who smiled widely and appeared to have tears in his eyes throughout the news conference, was asked directly if he had coached his last game at UCF. He reiterated wanting to address his team and lamented the speed with which change happens this time of year.
"They should give you time after the season to make decisions, and they don't," he said. "These things happen at the wrong time. ... I've been game-planning and coaching and doing the best I can for these guys and then decisions land on you and they're hard decisions."
National college football reporter Brett McMurphy on Saturday afternoon reported Frost's contract is for seven years and $35 million, which would make him the third-highest paid coach in the Big Ten behind Ohio State's Urban Meyer and Michigan's Jim Harbaugh.
Frost will next be tasked with restoring the program to the national prominence it hasn't had since he walked off the field for the final time as a player. Frost helped NU earn a share of the national title in 1997 and engineered a 24-2 career as the starter here. His final game, a decisive win against Tennessee and Peyton Manning in the 1998 Orange Bowl, was also Tom Osborne’s final time on the sideline coaching the Huskers.
Since then, the Husker program has steadily declined, seeing good years under Frank Solich, a little success under Bill Callahan, an up-and-down, 67-27 ride under Bo Pelini, then a 19-19 three-year period under Mike Riley that ended when he was fired Nov. 25 after a 4-8 season.
Now, Frost takes control of the top football post at his alma mater.
Frost spent two seasons in charge At UCF, turning an 0-12 team into a 6-7 outfit in his first season, then guiding the Knights to 12 straight wins this fall.
He has a reported $3 million buyout to leave the school, which is half of the remaining money on his contract. Per multiple reports, Frost also had an extension offer from UCF athletic director Danny White that he had been mulling, but held off on signing, in recent weeks.
Frost has never seemed like a sure bet to be a Husker lifer. After his standout high school career as an option quarterback and track star, he began his college football career at Stanford. There, he started twice at quarterback and five games at safety before returning to Nebraska in 1995.
After sitting out a season because of NCAA transfer rules, Frost succeeded Tommie Frazier at quarterback in 1996, leading the Huskers to an 11-2 record. And in 1997, he powered a unit that led the nation in total offense, scoring and rushing yardage.
Frost was a third-round NFL Draft pick by the New York Jets in 1998 and drifted around the league until 2003, including stops in Cleveland, Green Bay and Tampa Bay as a safety and special-teamer.
In December 2002, while on injured reserve from the Packers, Frost served as a temporary graduate assistant for the Huskers, the last time he set foot on campus as part of the football program.
He learned from several greats during his career, including Bill Walsh at Stanford and the likes of Jon Gruden, Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick in the NFL. That education continued through college stops at Kansas State and Northern Iowa before Frost was hired by Chip Kelly to coach wide receivers at Oregon.
That’s where Frost took a master’s course in offensive football, learning the system he's used this fall at UCF — the Knights lead the nation in scoring (48.3 points per game) and are third in yards per play (7.4).
He was Oregon's offensive coordinator for two years under Mark Helfrich when Kelly left for the NFL, then got a chance to run his own program in December of 2015 when he was hired by UCF.
Frost's star in the coaching industry has risen fast. He quickly became one of the most sought-after young coaches on the market as the Knights gained steam this season.
This week, he told an Orlando radio show that, "there are only a couple of places in the whole country that I would consider coaching."
One of them was his alma mater, and now, 20 years after he left as one of the top quarterbacks in NU history, he returns as its head coach.
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