Bill Moos expresses satisfaction with one legendary Husker quarterback, but disappointment in another.
Moos, the third-year Nebraska athletic director, on Saturday spoke with the Journal Star in great length about head coach Scott Frost's program. In the middle of the discussion, Moos paused to share his disappointment with former NU quarterback Tommie Frazier's Nov. 30 tweet apparently aimed at Frost.
"I will not comment on Nebraska football again until they make a bowl," the former Husker great tweeted a day after Iowa's 27-24 win in Lincoln. "It's obvious that people believe in someone that can't get it done. Those players played their asses off yesterday."
Although it's possible Frazier referred to Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez, Moos believes the target was Frost, whom Moos hired in late 2017. As one would expect, Moos has Frost's back in this discussion. And to be clear: Moos brought up the tweet on his own.
"If I were to talk to Tommie, and I might, and also talk to some of these other guys from the program's golden era, I would say, 'Hey, Tommie, you had the luxury of stepping into a program that was storied and had a powerful brand when you got there, with some of the greatest coaches ever to coach the game, All-American players and everything else. So be careful about what you're saying because you never had to help build one from the ground up,'" Moos said from Indianapolis, hours before the Big Ten Championship Game.
Frazier, an absolute wizard running the option attack, arrived at Nebraska in 1992 after the Huskers for years had been been a regular in the nation's top 10. He completed his eligibility in 1995 with two national championship rings, a fact not lost on the school's current athletic director.
"Tommie may be the best player to ever play at Nebraska, and that's obviously saying something," said Moos, a passionate college football fan since boyhood. "Tommie and Scott Frost are Nebraska quarterback brethren. Scott won a national championship here, too (in 1997), and he had the guts to try to rebuild this thing and try to get it back to where it was when Tommie was playing.
"It's not just Tommie I hear from," Moos added. "I hear from other former players who say, 'What are they doing? Why are they calling this and that?' I tell them we don't have the human equation to line up like it's 1994 and physically blow people 10 yards off the line of scrimmage."
By "human equation," Moos referred in part to what he believes is a lack of sufficient depth on the roster. Consequently, he said, he won't be "really judgmental" about Frost's program until "we're well into our third, fourth and maybe even fifth year of recruiting players."
Moos emphasizes the importance of walk-ons becoming an increasingly critical factor as the program strives to become a regular in the top 10. But the walk-on program contributing at a level that Frost wants "is probably three years away" as players in the program mature into veterans, Moos said.
He hopes Nebraska fans will be patient as Frost takes the necessary steps to build all aspects of the program.
He believes the overwhelming majority of fans trust Frost.
But Moos also hopes fans understand the Husker roster's shortcomings.
"I love our student-athletes, but do we have 22 starters who are as good as there can be in the Big Ten? The answer is no," he said. "And you certainly don't have 22 behind them (as backups). I'm about watch two programs in Ohio State and Wisconsin that have the 22 up front as starters, then 22 behind them and 22 more at the third level who are going to be up in the second and first levels in a matter of time.
"Those guys are pushing the starters in practice every day because they want to be out there."
Moos is properly realistic about Nebraska's recruiting in that he doesn't expect Frost and his staff to recruit at Ohio State's level. The Huskers need to rely more on development of players, he said, with walk-ons prominent in the picture, as was the case on Tom Osborne's best teams. On the 1994 national championship team, 22 of the players on the preseason three-deep chart were walk-ons.
The group included Jared Tomich, Joel Wilks, Matt Shaw, Brendan Holbein, Jon Vedral and Jeff Makovicka.
Moos notices something interesting at Nebraska that's different than his previous stops as an A.D. That is, former Husker players often cite their walk-on status when they introduce themselves -- because it's a badge of honor.
"At a lot of other places, you never admit you're a walk-on because the first thing that comes to mind is maybe the guy wasn't very good," said Moos, whose profound respect for Nebraska's walk-on tradition is such that he hopes to honor it in some form in the program's $155 million facilities project.
In discussing the future of Frost's program, Moos emphasizes the word "program." He isn't much interested in the Huskers rising up one year and settling back into mediocrity. A truly high-level program sustains at a high level, he said, pointing to Ohio State, which defeated Wisconsin 34-21 in Indy.
"Remember, this Ohio State team is a product of the Ohio State program, which has been stellar for years and years," he said. "They change coaches and don't miss a beat. When I say 'change coaches,' that doesn't mean they go out and hire the offensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys. They bring in Ryan Day, who had been a part of it, and they keep rolling.
"That's Osborne replacing Bob Devaney. And if I may be so bold, Frank Solich replacing Osborne."
Yes, Moos went there. He spoke truth that a lot of Nebraska fans don't like to hear. But Solich was 58-19 (.753) as NU's head coach from 1998-2003 and was fired in 2003 with a 9-3 record. In the context of NU experiencing four losing seasons in the last five, the Solich years look pretty good to Moos.
Of course, Moos can't be expected to fully understand the rather complicated dynamics, especially those in the university's upper-level administration, that contributed greatly to the program's decline.
Perhaps Moos could chat with former UNL chancellor Harvey Perlman about the topic. That'd be interesting.
"I'm cleaning up the mess of bad decisions," Moos said with a chuckle. "I have to come here at almost 70 years old and sweep the floor."
Hope Tommie understands that.