All year round, former Husker and NFL veteran Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In the "Carriker Chronicles" video series, he breaks down the latest NU news, upcoming opponents, player updates and recruiting information, and he offers his insight into the X's and O's and more.
In Wednesday's episode, Carriker talked to legendary Husker coach and Athletic Director Tom Osborne about Scott Frost's homecoming, how NU can get back to competing for championships, recruiting walk-ons and more.
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Here's a transcript from the show:
Adam Carriker: Welcome everybody to the Carriker Chronicles, the people's show, where each and every day I'm checking the pulse of Husker Nation. Brought to you by the Nebraska Spine Hospital. Apparently, beard gate has been replaced by pink eye gate. Personally, I preferred beard gate. But let’s get to the main purpose of today's show. I am joined by long-time Husker football coach, Tom Osborne. How are you doing coach?
Tom Osborne: I’m doing fine, Adam.
Adam Carriker: I want to thank you for joining me, and right off the top, at his press conference Scott Frost mentioned that you and Matt Davison played key roles in bringing him here. I’m curious about what the conversation with Frost was like before he made the decision to come back here, and what role you played in that decision?
Tom Osborne: I think that has maybe been overblown a little bit. Scott had been gone for quite a while, almost 20 years. Naturally, things have changed over that time and my role was to pretty much lay the groundwork and let him know what the situation was here. The administration and athletic director here at the University of Nebraska had changed, so he did not know any of those people. I have not had a close relationship with them for a long time, but I have gotten to know Ronnie Green very well, and Bill Moos, and also Hank Bounds. So I was able to reassure him that these were people that would be good to work with, as well as committed to football. And people that I thought would be easy to relate to. I thought that would be important to him to know that. He also wanted to know if I thought we could still get people to walk-on here, and I told him that I thought we could. Some of that had changed, and I think that you chronicled on one of your programs your experience with Bill Callahan. He had come from the NFL and indicated that he didn’t want that many players around. So there have been some coaches here that were much less interested then others in the walk-on program. So there were a lot of questions like that, whether he could recruit here. I assured him that everything that had been in place was still here, and some of it probably improved a little as far as facilities. So, we felt that he could recruit nationally here and get a lot of good players. I think some of that eased his mind, but of course he was very torn about leaving the players that had responded so well to him. Of course, I can understand that. So anyway, I’m glad he’s here and I think that things will definitely improve.
Adam Carriker: Two years ago, UCF was 0-12, last year they were 12-0. Some Husker fans are expecting a quick turnaround. He has a seven-year contract which gives him a little extra runway. What is a realistic time period for him to get the program turned around and headed in the right direction?
Tom Osborne: Well you know, Adam, the main thing that I always wanted as a coach was for my teams to be competitive. There were times where we played for the national championship and did not win it, maybe for a bad bounce here, or a fumble that was an official’s call there. But I felt that if we were competitive and on par with the best teams in the nation, that was success in my mind. Sometimes you’re going to win it and sometimes you aren’t. But I think you need to be competitor with the teams you are playing with. There's a long way between where Nebraska is right now and competing for a national championship. I’d have to caution a little bit that simply because they were 0-12 at Central Florida and then 12-0 two years later, that's miraculous. Unheard of in athletics. So to expect that lightning to strike twice consecutively with Scott is unrealistic to me. Maybe a miracle will happen and something like that will happen, but I think you’ll see steady improvement. I think that’s what he’s aiming at. I think as time goes on, he will get there. It’s important to remember, that some of the coaches I coached against; one of them is still coaching, Bill Snyder, he was at Kansas State for five or six years before they ever went to a bowl game. Bill McCartney was five or six years at Colorado before that program turned around and they went to a bowl game. It’s important to realize that these things aren’t quick and easy. He needs to establish his culture. That is something that does not shift overnight. It takes some time. So I think it’s important that fans understand those things.
Adam Carriker: Do you have any insights as to what type of offense he might run? Obviously, he is going to bring his UCF staff with him. He is going to run a lot of the same things he did at UCF, but also he talked about getting in the weight room and being physical and tough. Sounds like he’s going to be implementing some of those old-school Nebraska options. Do you have any insight as to what his offense might look like in a couple of years?
Tom Osborne: I think his offense will look a lot like it has at Oregon and at Central Florida. That is something that he has really developed. And there are all kinds of West Coast offenses. His was very efficient at Oregon and more recently at UCF and have been right at the top nationally in terms of total yardage and points scored. They have moved the ball very well. I’m sure there will be some adaptation as far as personnel oh, and if your quarterback is a little bit less skilled in one area you tend to compensate in other areas depending on how many skill players you have. If you have a couple good tight ends oh, you emphasize them a little bit more. So he will make some tweaks and it’s not going to look exactly like it did at those other places. But I think it will be very similar, and Nebraska is going to move the ball very well and fairly consistently.
Adam Carriker: Scott and his staff have been out recruiting very hard. He has publicly said that one of his priorities is in-state recruits. He has publicly said that there are too many kids from the state of Nebraska playing for other schools. What are some of the priorities you had on recruiting as a head coach oh, and why do you think there are so many Nebraska guys playing for other schools now?
Tom Osborne: Adam, we really started with Nebraska. We would sometimes give a scholarship to a kid from Nebraska that might not have looked as good on film at somebody from Texas or Florida, where they had spring football and sophisticated strength programs. I would find a guy from a small town who was playing three sports with not much of a strength program, but the guy had a good frame and was a good athlete with good character. It might take a year or two longer to develop that player into a great player, but one thing we really took pride in was developing players. We were a little bit more patient with them. It seems like recruiting now is aimed at four-star, five-star, whatever that means. Guys that will come in and play for you right away. The very best players we had did not play for the first couple years. Sometimes it was the third or fourth year before they really hit their stride. And I think that Scott really understands those things and he wants to recruit Nebraska hard. And I think he is going to revive the walk-on program. Some people say that they recruit walk-ons, but what that means is they send them a letter and they may have invited them down to a football game. With the top guys, I would usually in their living room, and their high school and I recruited them much like I did some of the scholarship players. We treated the walk-ons just like the scholarship players, and I think if you ask most of the players on their teams to name who was a walk-on and who was a scholarship player, they could not tell you. Because there was no difference in the way they were treated. I think that sometimes that has slipped a little bit over the last two years.
Adam Carriker: Now, I asked you before the show if you had any untold stories about Scott Frost, so I’m going to ask you now. Do you have any stories of Scott Frost that the fine folks at home might not know that you are able to share on the show today?
Tom Osborne: I don’t think I ever recruited a player harder then I did Scott in high school. When he went off to Stanford with Bill Walsh, I think that Bill kind of convinced him that he was going to some day be a great NFL quarterback. When things didn’t work out there and he came back here, his talents fit our offense very well and he had two great years here with us. Of course, his senior year we had a great team and I thought he performed at a very high level. But here’s the thing about Scott. He has had preparation on both sides of the ball. He played at a high level in college on offense as a quarterback and I believe six years in the NFL primarily as a defensive back. He played for a number of coaches. And his coaching life, he has been an offensive and defensive coordinator. Very few coaches have had that kind of preparation. I think he has a great grasp on the game and has the personal skills to go with it. I think he will handle the press and public relations very well, he will do great with the players, and as a recruiter. And he understands the game. So it is a pretty unusual combination to have somebody that is rooted in all of those areas. Most everybody has some strengths and some weaknesses, but Scott does not have very many weaknesses.
Adam Carriker: Can you talk to me about the strength and conditioning program? We seem to have had a lot of injuries as of late. At times, we have seemed to get pushed around on the field as well. Scott mentioned at his press conference that we were going to get in the weight room and get stronger. Can you speak to what he might be looking for in his next strength and conditioning coach, and the program going forward?
Tom Osborne: Well I don’t think there’s any secret. Zach Duvall was his strength coach down at Central Florida, and it’s my understanding that he would like to have Zach here. I don’t know if that has been finalized or not. But I know that that’s something Scott is interested in. Zach did a good job at UCF and he has ties to Nebraska. Zach’s father, Rick, coached for me at one time, so Zach grew up in Lincoln. He was with Boyd Epley for a period of time and has bounced around, but apparently he is very good. And of course, just like any staff, it isn’t just the head strength coach. He has a staff to work with. As you know, we have great facilities here and a great strength coach, so we’re good. And I think the performance lab, the NAPL, just something that can be really good for overcoming certain deficiencies. For instance, if one quadricep is weaker than the other, you can determine that very quickly with the system they have there. And you can rehabilitate, and strengthen that and make sure the kids are in balance. If one ACL is weaker than the other, you can do some things to prevent an ACL injury. So I think that facility is going to be very helpful in recruiting. People often say that at one time, Nebraska was ahead of everybody else in strength and conditioning oh, and we were. And then that caught up. There’s all kinds of strength programs where you can maintain an edge. We did in nutrition and now some people have caught up. But the NAPL it’s something that very few people have oh, and I think in that area we are truly distinct. That can be a very useful tool in recruiting and also rehabilitating injuries.
Adam Carriker: Not going to lie, ladies and gentlemen, I have seen that lab and it is very impressive. I want to thank coach Osborne for joining me today and until next time, Husker Nation. GO BIG RED and always remember…
Tom Osborne: THROW THE BONES!