Scott Frost’s Nebraska struggles are another reminder Power Five turnarounds take time

October 5, 2018

In the category of College Football Coaches Quotes for $500, here is your Jeopardy! clue:

You know, everybodys in the boat, everybodys working. This thing is going to get right. Its just not happening as quick as they want it to and certainly not as quick as I want it to.

Who is P.J. Fleck?

Wrong. (Hint: look 430 miles to the southwest.)

Who is Scott Frost?

Ding, ding, ding.

Frost, Nebraskas first-year coach and former national championship-winning Cornhuskers quarterback, knew that the rebuilding job in Lincoln would take time. But the process has been especially painful for the Big Red faithful, with the 0-4 Huskers being the only winless team in the Big Ten.

Frost did not hide his frustration following Saturdays 42-28 home loss to Purdue in the conference opener.

We looked like one of the most undisciplined teams in the country, and it kills me because it isnt like were not giving them messages. It isnt like were not trying to hold them accountable, he said.

Particularly irking to Frost were the 11 penalties for 136 yards. He also had an issue with some of his players conduct.

We cant get holding calls on interceptions and then talk trash to their sideline and start dancing on the field, he fumed. When were down 13 points and weve got backups and reserves dancing on our sideline before kickoffs, they look like they love losing.

Frost inherited a team that went 4-8 under former coach Mike Riley, and while Frost said he has a bunch of guys who are warriors, a bunch of guys who didnt stop fighting, he knows that not everyone has bought in to his culture. And Tuesday, backup wide receiver Tyjon Lindsey, a former top-50 national recruit brought in by Riley, decided to transfer.

Bad habits, Frost knows, dont change overnight.

When youre building a new house, you cant build it on a bad foundation or you wont have a house very long, he said. We had some rot and some termites, and we still do, and we have to get all of that cleaned out.

Fleck, in his second year with the Gophers, can empathize. Like Frost, he took a Group of Five team to new heights, going 13-1 at Western Michigan in 2016 before taking the Minnesota job. Frost went 13-0 at Central Florida last year before returning to his alma mater.

If people think just take a pill or hire a coach and you immediately win, Fleck said, you need to look around the country right now.

The rebuilding doesnt get any easier this week for Frost, whose team travels to No. 16 Wisconsin. And trips to No. 3 Ohio State and Iowa still await. There may be tough times ahead, but Frost doesnt believe theyll last.

You go through hard times in life in a lot of different ways, he said. All that does is make it sweeter when it turns out the right way.

It happened to me as a player and itll happen to me as a coach.

Randy Johnson covers college football for the Star Tribune. Twitter: @RJStrib. E-mail: rjohnson@startribune.com

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