Why Nebraska was willing to spend $7.5 million more to buy out Frost

·3 min read

Sometimes, the best way to gain long-term relief is to endure short-term pain and, on Sunday, Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts ripped that bandage right off, even if it cost $7.5 million.

By firing embattled football coach Scott Frost less than a day after the Cornhuskers lost 45-42 at home to Georgia Southern, Alberts chose not to wait until Oct. 1, when Frost's buyout would have dropped from $15 million to $7.5 million.

Why not wait? A couple of reasons.

First, Nebraska plays sixth-ranked Oklahoma on Saturday in Lincoln and in front of a national TV audience. Instead of a week of celebrating the tradition-rich Huskers-Sooners rivalry, the story lines would have focused on Frost, his 16-31 record and endless speculation on when he'd be fired. Don't discount how image-conscious universities can be when they're on the big stage.

Second and more important, things had deteriorated to a point where Alberts no longer could wait.

"We needed to do something,'' he said. "We needed to inject something into this team and give them the confidence and hopefully help them compete.''

Alberts believes the season still is salvageable despite the 1-2 start. He is hopeful that a new voice in the form of interim coach Mickey Joseph can make a difference for a program that lost 22 one-score games under Frost.

Losing in excruciating fashion, often the product of self-inflicted wounds such as Frost's onside kick call in the loss to Northwestern in Dublin, had become a habit during Frost's five years. That view even existed in the locker room.

"There's a losing culture going on,'' Huskers edge rusher Ochaun Mathis, a transfer from TCU, told the Omaha World Herald. "A lot of guys don't know what it looks like to win at this point.''

That Mathis said the quiet part out loud offered a glimpse of the challenge awaiting Joseph, who'll use this nine-game interim stint as his audition for the permanent job. Mathis' frank comment didn't sit well with his new coach.

"I've got to do a better job with the players before they go to interviews and make comments like that,'' Joseph said.

Taking care of his players' mental approach amid all the changes was first on Joseph's to-do list.

"We have nine more opportunities, and we're capable of winning games,'' he said. "… I'm feeding them confidence.''

While Joseph tries to right the ship, Alberts begins a national search for a new coach. Among his priorities: landing someone who'll rebuild the Huskers from the ground up and someone who has winning in his DNA.

"I like people who hate to lose more than they enjoy winning,'' Alberts said before quickly adding, "I don't mean to infer or imply our previous coach didn't have those things.''

Money shouldn't be an obstacle for Nebraska if it wants a big-name hire. Paying Frost the full buyout shows that the Huskers are all in.

"We're blessed to be in a position to meet market demand,'' Alberts said. "Certainly, resources won't be an impediment towards hiring the type of coach we want to lead the Husker program.''

The Nebraska fanbase is a proud group, one that became used to contending for and winning national championships under Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne. Alberts, an All-America linebacker for the Huskers in the early 1990s, knows the tradition well. He's also pragmatic in realizing that recapturing the glory days will take more work and less wishing.

"We'll stop talking about championships and stop talking about things we used to do,'' Alberts said. "We need to start focusing on those small fundamental things that lead to that.''