Frost makes surprise visit to Columbus
Nebraska Cornhuskers head football coach Scott Frost said he was determined to get the whole state behind the program when he was hired in 2017, and on Friday, he proved it to Columbus.
Frost made stops at Lakeview, Scotus Central Catholic and Columbus high schools Friday morning, much to the delight of the schools’ football coaches, faculty and students.
“Nebraska is getting back to what made it great back in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. They’re making sure to take care of their grassroots,” Lakeview head football coach Kurt Frenzen said. “It’s great to see things get back to the way it was done when I first got into coaching football back in the ’90s.”
Frenzen said he wasn’t expecting Frost, but was happy to host him and visit for about 30 minutes.
“For me, it was great. Coach is a great guy,” Frenzen said, noting they discussed many things, including the Vikings participating in Nebraska’s football camp this summer. “We had a great conversation; he’s very approachable. We’re close to the same age, so we talked about high school for a little bit.”
Lakeview was buzzing when Frost was in the building. The coach said kids had their cellphones out and were taking photos as the Nebraska coach walked through the hallways.
Frost also made quite the impression at Scotus Central Catholic. Frost walked into Scotus about 10:30 a.m., according to its head football coach, Tyler Linder. It came about as Linder said he got a text from one Husker assistant coach asking if Frost could come by after meeting with the family of a recruit in York.
“That’s an easy text to reply to,” Linder said. “I think he saw it as an opportunity to touch base with coaches in the state.”
Linder and Frost stopped by the weight room and checked out the school’s trophy case for a bit. He said they had a productive conversation, noting they discussed Scotus’ rich tradition of football and Nebraska’s. That got them into a chat with Scotus Assistant Principal/Activities Director Merlin Lahm about the 1993 season, the year Frost graduated from Wood River High School and Scotus won a state football championship.
“We had a down-to-earth conversation talking about football and old times,” Lahm said, adding having Frost in the building for about an hour was exciting for the whole school.
Before Frost left, Linder said the two also discussed the relationship between the two programs. Shamrocks were mentioned, he noted.
“We talked about several athletes, a couple of kids’ names came up, but I think his mission ultimately was to introduce himself to Scotus and the town of Columbus and extend that line of communication there,” Linder said. “He’s a very genuine man. He’s very humble and easy to talk to. We had a nice conversation.”
Frost also carved out some time to stop by Columbus High School, where he visited with head football coach Craig Williams.
“It’s important to Coach Frost and his staff to have good relationships with the high schools and their staff,” Williams said. “He’s a very humble person; I guess I was surprised by how humble and relaxed he was. I think he’s genuine, honest and very sincere, and those things go a long way here in Nebraska and the Midwest. I really appreciated his time.”
Frost, according to Williams, was headed for Norfolk to visit another recruit’s family.
The visits in Columbus came about a couple of months after Frost’s first season leading the Cornhuskers, who went 4-8 overall and 3-6 in the Big Ten. Nebraska got off to a slow start in 2018 with six straight losses but came into its own with solid wins over Minnesota (53-28), Bethune-Cookman (45-9), Illinois (54-35) and Michigan State (9-6) before it was all over.
All three Columbus area prep coaches said they have a lot of respect for Frost and the Nebraska program, also pointing out their excitement for their teams’ respective seasons. The Vikings, Shamrocks and Discoverers’ head football coaches praised their kids and noted their players and coaches would be working hard in the off-season to prepare for the 2019 season.
And though all three local coaches had a chance to talk with Frost, there was one thing Linder consciously decided not to bring up.
“I could tell you exactly where I was when the miracle in Missouri happened in 1997,” he said, referring the infamous “flea kicker” play Nebraska executed on Nov. 8, 1997, to tie Missouri at 38 in the final seconds of regulation.
It was then-Huskers quarterback Frost who scored on an optional keeper in overtime to help secure the victory (45-38) for Nebraska, who remained unbeaten as a result.
Linder said he was in fourth grade at the time and glued to the TV when it happened.
“I didn’t bring that up with Coach Frost,” Linder said, with a laugh.
Matt Lindberg is the managing editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.