Barfknecht

Scott Frost sought last-minute reassurance from Tom Osborne that making the move to Nebraska was the right call.

LINCOLN — To assess the impact former coach Tom Osborne had on Scott Frost becoming the current coach, a baseball term comes to mind.

Osborne helped the Huskers record a huge save Friday night, when Frost had serious second thoughts about following through with an agreement he reached Nov. 27 to come to Lincoln.

Yes, all the social media experts who for weeks had declared Frost to Nebraska “a done deal” were a whisker away from being wrong.

“That’s true,” Osborne said Sunday. “This was something that was really hard for Scott to do.”

That led to a lengthy phone call from the 1997 national title quarterback to his mentor and role model, seeking some last-minute assurance even with a conference championship game to coach in about 15 hours.

Osborne and Frost — regular phone pals for years — began having longer and more frequent talks through the fall after Nebraska fired Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst and as the dismissal of coach Mike Riley became more likely by the week.

First, to clear up Twitter falsehoods, Osborne said he never traveled to Florida during the season, nor did he call Frost and “tell him to come home.”

“I mostly just answered his questions,” Osborne said. “He had concerns about administration because he didn’t know Hank Bounds (NU’s president) and he didn’t know Ronnie Green (chancellor) and he didn’t know Bill Moos (A.D.)

“Scott kind of had to see that through my eyes. I told him I thought all three of these guys are very committed and are good people and have some understanding of what needed to be done.”

Many Nebraskans don’t fully understand the bridge-building necessary to reach Frost.

As he made clear at Sunday’s press conference, he’s still ticked about not even getting a phone call from Eichorst in December 2014 — much less an interview — when Bo Pelini was fired.

Frost, offensive coordinator at Oregon at the time, was eminently qualified, especially considering the hire Eichorst made of Mike Riley in four days.

Frost already had a head coaching offer late in 2014 but turned it down because that school wanted him to leave Oregon before the College Football Playoff. By the end of the 2015 season, Frost had job offers from Maryland, Syracuse and UCF. He took the latter.

In an interview I did with Frost in September 2016 before UCF played at Michigan, the depth of the divide with his alma mater was apparent.

I asked Frost to characterize his relationship with the NU athletic department and the Husker football program. He replied: “No. I can’t. I won’t say anything about Nebraska.”

Did he have any NU connection?

“I donate as an alum,” he said, “in order to keep the season tickets that have been in my family since my grandfather bought them after World War II.”

Now you know why Moos said Sunday, “Coach Osborne was very big in this,” as was Frost’s close friend and former teammate Matt Davison.

As nerve-wracking as Frost’s late jitters were to the process, Osborne praised them.

“You don’t want a guy who couldn’t care less about his players and is just going to go where the most money is or the most prestigious program,” Osborne said. “Scott’s not built that way. He’s not going to abandon his coaches or his players.”

With Frost finally in the fold, the “overwhelming euphoria that Scott is back” doesn’t guarantee immediate success, Osborne said.

“This isn’t going to be a return to 1997 in terms of offense and defense,” Osborne said. “But he understands the things that need to be done here. He knows the basics that helped sustain it over a 42-year period. That’s going to be critical.”

The returning talent at Nebraska is better “than what most people think,” Osborne said, but that system-specific recruiting is a must.

“That will take some time,” Osborne said, “but I think you’ll see some improvement right away.”

Will Osborne be on hand for games at Memorial Stadium to assess improvement?

Last July, he gave up his North Stadium skybox. On Sunday, he said he doesn’t plan to ask for it back, repeating that he gave it up so the university could lease it to a booster and raise money.

There is a guy with some pull, though, who can help Osborne find a ticket.

“Tom has been so helpful in this process and so encouraging and supportive,” Chancellor Green said. “You heard Scott talk about that. I hope Tom is as involved as Tom wants to be.”

Nebraskans should be thankful Osborne had his phone charged Friday night and was ready for a call to the bullpen that previous NU officials hadn’t bothered to make in years.

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