For the past week, new Nebraska coach Scott Frost sat in the living rooms of prospective recruits and sold his vision of Husker football.
How’d he do? If an NFL Hall of Fame coach had to guess, quite well.
Tony Dungy has had Frost sit in his living room to recruit his son, Eric, who eventually picked Oregon in 2010. Frost was Eric’s position coach. Dad was impressed with Frost that evening, and ever since. The two have kept in frequent touch over the years.
Dungy, like so many others, is a big Frost fan.
“I could talk about Scott for hours,” Dungy said Thursday. The NFL on NBC studio analyst was gracious to talk for 20 minutes before Thursday night’s Saints-Falcons game. The key takeaways from the conversation — we’ll go more in-depth in the Monday Rewind — was that Frost had excellent mentors (Tom Osborne, Mike Tomlin and Chip Kelly among them), a “really good teaching demeanor” and a commanding presence among athletes. When Dungy would visit Oregon to visit his son, he saw it.
“Players just gravitate to him every time I came to see him,” said Dungy, who made 11 NFL playoff appearances over six seasons with Tampa Bay and seven with Indianapolis. “And it didn’t matter which position. Defensive linemen, running backs, they’d just come to his office. He’s a leader. You could tell right away how respected he was.”
Sunday and Monday, we’ll explore a few more aspects of NU’s new coach. On Sunday, we’ll have two stories: One from Evan Bland about a key break Frost got in his coaching career — talking to the man who gave it to him — and another from Dirk Chatelain about the fishbowl that awaits the guarded Frost, who comes back to a place where so many have a story about him (and thus presume to know what he’s all about.) Then, Monday, more from Dungy, who knows Frost as a parent of a player and as a mentor who thinks Nebraska got a great coach.
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After spending two seasons of his college playing career at Stanford learning from Bill Walsh, Frost followed with three years of offensive education under Osborne at Nebraska. Frost redshirted in 1995, then was the Huskers' starting quarterback in 1996 and '97, with NU leading the nation in total offense (513.7 yards per game) and scoring (47.1 points) his senior season. When Osborne visited UCF during preseason practice in August, Frost told the Orlando Sentinel: “He’s my hero in this business, to be honest with you, and any time I get to spend time with him or listen to him talk, there is a lot of wisdom in that mind. I appreciate him for who he is as a football coach.”
Belichick is best known for his five Super Bowl titles as New England head coach, but he was the New York Jets' defensive coordinator in 1998 and '99 when Frost was starting his NFL playing career as a safety and special teams player. Belichick is pictured here with Jets linebacker Bryan Cox.
Parcells was the head coach when the New York Jets used a 1998 third-round draft pick on a college quarterback that they planned to convert to a safety. Frost played the 1998 and '99 seasons under Parcells, who was also serving as the Jets' general manager.
Before Frost played for Tom Osborne at Nebraska, he spent the 1993 and '94 seasons with Walsh at Stanford after the Cardinal won a recruiting battle with the Huskers. That was after Walsh's decorated career as San Francisco 49ers head coach that included three Super Bowl championships.
Frost sharpened his offensive mind studying under Kelly at Oregon from 2009 to 2012, when Frost had his first full-time FBS job as the Ducks' receivers coach. Frost moved up to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2013 — working under Mark Helfrich — after Kelly moved to the NFL. Frost said recently of Kelly: “My time at Oregon with Chip, and then taking his offense and continuing to evolve it, that’s really what’s gotten us to where we are (at UCF).”
Farley, right, gave Frost his first full-time coaching position as the Northern Iowa linebackers coach in 2007, and Frost also was co-defensive coordinator the following year. Farley is pictured with North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman before a 2014 game, and Klieman was the UNI secondary coach during Frost's two years in Cedar Rapids.
Frost spent the 2001 and '02 seasons with Green Bay when Sherman was head coach, although he didn't play in a game for the Packers. Also on that staff as linebackers coach those two seasons? Bo Pelini.
After Morris was a Tampa Bay assistant when Frost played his final NFL season with the Buccaneers in 2003, he was the defensive coordinator at Kansas State for Frost's one season as a graduate assistant with the Wildcats in 2006. Morris also left the following year, becoming defensive backs coach at Tampa Bay for two seasons before serving as Buccaneers head coach from 2009 to '11. Morris currently is the Atlanta Falcons' assistant head coach.
Jon Gruden and Monte Kiffin
Frost missed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' championship season by a year, but spent 2003 with head coach Jon Gruden and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin — his last go-round as an NFL player. Gruden's offensive staff included brother Jay Gruden, now the Washington Redskins' head coach. Kiffin was a former Nebraska player and Husker defensive coordinator who was the defensive coordinator with Tampa Bay from 1996 through 2008. Gruden and Kiffin are pictured before a 2012 game.
Tomlin is best known for his current stint as Pittsburgh Steelers head coach since 2007, including a Super Bowl title, but he was the defensive backs coach at Tampa Bay during Frost's only playing season as a Buc in 2003. It was Tomlin who suggested to Frost that he go into coaching, and Frost told USA Today last month that he respected Tomlin's "ability to treat guys like men and not like he was their superior. Playing for him was the best experience of my NFL career.”
Frost never played for or coached with Dungy, but Frost coached Dungy's son at Oregon and the two have become friends. When Frost was hired at UCF, Dungy said: "Scott is a tremendous coach and I think that UCF made a great hire. Scott knows football and is a great communicator. But more than anything, Scott will make sure his players grow as young men and that they will represent UCF well."
Groh was part of the star-studded New York Jets' staff as Frost went into the NFL, serving as linebackers coach in 1998 and '99. Groh was then the Jets' head coach in 2000 when Frost played in all 16 games (one start) and finished with 29 tackles.
Frost enjoyed one of his best NFL seasons with Cleveland in 2001, when he played in 12 games and had 14 tackles for the Browns. Bowles, now the New York Jets' head coach, was instrumental in bringing Frost to Cleveland after he previously had been on the Jets' staff. Browns head coach Butch Davis said at the time: “Todd really liked him. He was surprised the Jets let him go. He’s a cerebral-type player — a tough, courageous kid.”