Heady: Scott Frost biography reveals how native son was born to lead Husker football

"Frost: A Husker's Journey Home" is the definitive biography detailing how Scott Frost's entire life has built up to him leading Husker football. 

I was on my hands and knees searching the turf of Spectrum Stadium on that December afternoon in Orlando, looking for the pen I’d sworn was just in my pocket, when my phone buzzed.

It was Sam McKewon, our lead Husker beat reporter.

He said something, but the crowd of 45,000 in black tank tops and khaki shorts crescendoed as Scott Frost’s face appeared on the big screen during warmups. So Sam had to say it again, louder.

“It’s going to happen today,” he said.

Frost was coming home.

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I hung up and nodded over to the photographer, who was on assignment in Orlando with me for the American Athletic Conference championship game between Central Florida and Memphis. She made her way to the sideline for a better angle of Frost for the next day’s sports page, and I jogged to the press box. There was a lot of writing to do.

UCF won that game in double overtime. Afterward, Frost walked from one end zone to the other in tears as EDM hit “Zombie Nation” pulsed through the stadium. Frost was engulfed in hugs by assistant coaches, was kissed on the cheek by happy players running around the field. Frost lifted the championship trophy and was showered in gold confetti.

As he left the field, UCF fans chanted.

“STAY! STAY! STAY!”

Frost wiped his eyes, waved and disappeared into the shadows of the tunnel.

It was a remarkable moment when Frost left the field that day. And in his final few minutes as UCF coach and as the soon-to-be-announced leader of the Huskers, it dawned on me that what was about to happen back in Nebraska was monumental.

It was too much for a single newspaper story, or a series of them, to convey. A better snapshot of this time in history, and all that it entailed, needed to be captured. And over the next few days back in Nebraska, it was right in front of my nose: the Wendy’s by the UNL campus selling $1 “Frosty’s”; billboards going up on Interstate 80 welcoming Frost “home”; the “Frosty the Coach-Man” song and video that went viral; T-shirts with Frost’s name popping up online. It was a story just too good to ignore.

Which is why, over the past six months, we wrote a book about it.

“Frost: A Husker’s Journey Home” comes out Aug. 13. You can pre-order it today by clicking here.

The book tells the story of Scott Frost through every step of his journey to becoming Nebraska’s head coach, from the day his parents met on the football field in Malcolm, Nebraska, to the day he was introduced as coach at Memorial Stadium.

Through new reporting combined with World-Herald archives, six reporters and a team of editors produced the definitive story of how Frost got to this point.

It tells the story of Frost, yes, but it also delves into so much more. It’s a story about his parents, Larry and Carol; Wood River in 1992; and Lincoln in 1997. It covers Scott’s stint in the NFL and his early coaching days. It explains the soap opera of Nebraska football since Frost left, the division of the fan base and now its reunification.

Writers Dirk Chatelain, Evan Bland, Lee Barfknecht, Sam McKewon, Tom Shatel and I  add insight with never-before-told stories that are woven around photos from World-Herald archives and even from family scrapbooks. For the book, we talked to childhood friends; current and former NFL coaches; and former Nebraska teammates, administrators and coaches.

The book is worth a look for the photos alone, but if you think you know the whole story about how Scott got to where he is today, you don’t. I’d bet four people knew the details, and that would be Larry, Carol, big brother Steve and Scott. That is, until now.

Chatelain tells the story of how Larry and Carol met — around the office, we frequently remarked that Carol is a book by herself — and the profound role both played in how Scott ended up where he is today.

I visited Wood River and found relics of time past and teammates still full of nostalgia for those 1990s Eagles teams.

Barfknecht combed through notebooks he hadn’t opened in 20 years to find gems from the 1990s.

The likes of usually tight-lipped New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin responded to Bland’s queries into the qualities that marked Frost as a future head coach.

There is even insight shared by Mike Riley and Harvey Perlman, who talked to McKewon about their time — and the tumult — at Nebraska.

And for those who want to feel good about the future, Shatel’s epilogue should leave smiles on readers’ faces.

After months of scanning World-Herald archives, and highlighting quotes written three decades ago, and transcribing interviews and writing then rewriting, we find it gratifying to know the book is finished. We’ve been giddy in the newsroom about it for months, excited to let you learn all that we found out. Like most great stories, this book pretty much wrote itself over the past 70 years, a credit to the Frost family.

All we needed to do was find our pens and put it to paper.

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Chris Heady covers Husker football and is the Nebraska men's basketball beat writer. He started at The World-Herald in 2017. Follow him on Twitter @heady_chris. Email: chris.heady@owh.com.

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