Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts says he's unsure exactly why we're so interested in his Sunday conversations with Scott Frost.
After hearing from Alberts on Monday, I'm actually more intrigued than ever.
Let's be clear: Alberts and Frost, the fourth-year Nebraska football coach, didn't have a relationship before Alberts took over in July.
They certainly have one now, a good one, or so it seems.
"Little by little, those Sunday conversations, which started out being 20 minutes, sort of evolved into two- and three-hour sessions of very good, healthy dialogue, although never in the granular details of XYZ coach or play-calling or anything like that, but more just philosophical, high-level stuff," Alberts said in a lengthy interview with the Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha World-Herald.
Alberts compiled notes during their sessions. He asked Frost questions. He compiled more notes. He asked more questions. All the while, Alberts gained a better feel for how Frost operated. They agreed on some critical points, including this one: Being a head coach at Nebraska is an enormous task. It's more complicated than people think, Alberts said.
It involves the head coach having a pulse on a variety of areas — anything that touches the program. We're talking about dealing with media, social media, recruiting, scheduling, parents, playoff expansion and, yes, the whole name, image and likeness phenomenon.
The list goes on and on.
"It takes a certain amount of time, energy and resources that perhaps Scott didn't have," Alberts said.
So, based on Alberts and Frost's new vision, Frost will be more of a CEO-type of head coach going forward, and probably won't be calling plays anymore.
He'll likely hire an offensive coordinator who takes over that side of the ball, with Frost adding his expertise as needed.
Alberts can help him grow as chief executive of the program. It makes sense since Alberts himself operates smoothly as a CEO-type, and learned plenty in that regard as Nebraska Omaha's former AD.
"Maybe that ability — and I don't know this for sure — for Scott to dive into those critical areas, could that possibly be that missing link of detail that we need in those one-score games you guys keep writing about?" Alberts asked.
Alberts clearly likes the idea of Frost not having his head buried in a play sheet during a game.
"When a player comes off the field, if you are so fixated on what you're going to call next, it's very hard to even have some accountability or create some comfort if there's a mistake," said Alberts, an All-American linebacker at Nebraska during the early 1990s. "I've had it both ways. I've come off the field before and (former NU defensive coordinator) Charlie McBride took my facemask and basically said, 'You ever do that again, you'll never ever play here another down.
"I've also had a coach love on me. That's the ability of a coach to assess the environment at that time and deliver the right message. That's leadership."
He thinks Frost can be excellent in a role in which he pays a bit closer attention to a bigger picture. But the current staff structure, the AD said, "perhaps is robbing him of the ability to do some of that."
There's another factor in the discussion: The treacherous Big Ten. Alberts finds the parity to be, well, somewhat daunting. It's not 1992 at Nebraska anymore, he said, meaning there are hardly any breezy Saturdays of surefire wins these days.
A head coach's attention to detail had better be sharp.
A head coach had better be fully confident in his entire operation.
Along those lines, Frost brought a plan for the future to Alberts on Sunday "that I think really contemplated a lot of the things that we talked about over the last several weeks," said Alberts, emphasizing that he did not mandate that Frost fire any of his assistants.
The four staff firings announced Monday were part of Frost's vision, Alberts said.
"I believe that's the role of the head coach and CEO of the football program, is to have the overall vision and strategy of what we look like going forward," Alberts said.
How much did Alberts consider changing head coaches?
"I don't think it's any secret I've always wanted this to work (with Frost)," Alberts said.
There obviously are no guarantees that Frost's new vision for the program is going to work. His record at Nebraska is 15-27 overall and 10-23 in the Big Ten. The Huskers this season are 3-7 and 1-6 in the conference, and are riding a four-game skid. Now, Frost must almost completely revamp his offensive staff, and get it ready for a critical fifth season. No pressure.
This is fascinating stuff. I've said it before: The Alberts-Frost pairing intrigues me, now more than ever.
"You know, I asked Scott this morning — and we've had lots of conversations — but I said, 'Are you a little uncomfortable?'" said Alberts, a reference to Frost's restructured contract and perhaps just the general magnitude of the moment.
Frost said he does feel uncomfortable. In a good way.
"'So am I,'" Alberts replied. "That's how I know we have a great deal, because both of us. …"
His voice trailed off. I think I get what he's saying, though. The duo now pushes forward together, an AD and CEO on the same page.
It hasn't always been that way at Nebraska during the last couple of decades.
Let's see what it looks like now. No pressure. None at all.
'Nebraska showing some old-school patience': What people are saying about Scott Frost returning, 4 assistants out
Parker with the particularsUpdated
Obviously we'll see what Scott Frost's contract restructure looks like, but the buyout, of course, is the key.— Parker Gabriel (@HuskerExtraPG) November 8, 2021
Under the two-year extension he signed in 11/19 (through 2026), he still would have been due $15 million if fired following 2022 season.
Encouragement from the chancellorUpdated
I’ve had great confidence in Scott Frost from the beginning and still do. No one in Nebraska wants to win more than he does. Scott will continue to take the steps necessary to bring the football program to where it needs to be and I very much look forward to watching him do that. https://t.co/idw2tJwwTF— Ronnie D. Green (@RonnieDGreen) November 8, 2021
What could Frost's restructured contract look like?Updated
Over the past year-plus, Jim Harbaugh and Scott Frost both agreed to restructured contracts to remain head coach. If Frost's is anything like Harbaugh's, I think it's great. All CFB coaching contracts should be lower bases/guaranteed money + incentives based on actual success.— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) November 8, 2021
What's that they say about patience again?Updated
In a year when schools have been tripping over each other to fire coaches ASAP, Nebraska showing some old-school patience/faith that the record doesn't tell the whole story.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) November 8, 2021
Refreshing for some Huskers fans, depressing for others?
Too close to start over, says this FOX broadcasterUpdated
Ready to put speculation in rearviewUpdated
Frost will be back next year with a restructured contract.— Meg (@hotmesshusker) November 8, 2021
While I'm really going to miss reading everyone and their mom's opinion about what they think should happen, I'm glad the speculation is over and we can get back to tweeting at Trev to bring back blonde Herbie.#gbr
'Close' to getting over the hump with FrostUpdated
I’m all for this! As frustrating as this season’s been, this team’s stronger than last season, and Scott Frost is close to getting over the hump with this squad.— Josh Idachaba (@JoshIdachaba) November 8, 2021
These last two games (both winnable) are a great opportunity to get a statement win and build momentum for 2022. https://t.co/e3Mx8LHddf
Bringing out the GIFs for the occasionUpdated
All it takes is a little timeUpdated
Giving the alum the benefit of the doubtUpdated
Keeping Scott Frost has a lot of parallels to the decisions Georgetown hoops had as Ewing struggled early - there’s nowhere else to go, as an alum he has a lot of goodwill that will never extinguish. In GU’s case the faith worked but we stayed true to self and BE. Not NU case— Lorenzo Cortes (@Hoyatexas) November 8, 2021
The price tag on removing Frost is too high, some sayUpdated
Where have we heard this sentiment before?Updated
Props to #Nebraska for making the right decision:— Embrik Eyles (@EmbrikEyles) November 8, 2021
23-16 loss at #3 OU
23-29 loss at #23 MSU in OT
32-29 loss vs #9 Michigan
30-23 loss at Minnesota
28-23 loss vs Purdue
26-17 loss vs OSU
Scott Frost and the Corn Huskers are so close, no reason to get rid of him! https://t.co/rdDLzZR0kE
Husker O-lineman on coaching shakeupUpdated
Damn— Teddy Prochazka (@TeddyProchazka) November 8, 2021
6 not 3Updated
Nebraska football finally figured it out — you’re not the coaching destination you think. Keep a guy that loves the Huskers and has shown he can win as a coach. Just not easy to win quickly at Nebraska anymore. It’s a 6 year rebuild. Not a 3.— Colin Cowherd (@ColinCowherd) November 8, 2021
A not-so-official statement from ex-HuskerUpdated
Happy to move on past the rumorsUpdated
I'm just happy the "Scott Frost is on the chopping block" narrative can go away now. Very happy to have him back for another year. He's the guy for this program— Jake Brown (@BandanaBrown) November 9, 2021
Money moves by Trev AlbertsUpdated
So, Trev Alberts is basically giving Scott Frost one more season to end the misery, and to show any sign of noteworthy progress, and he took a million from Frost's salary and cut the $15 million buyout in half. That's doing your job as AD under difficult circumstances.— Pat Harty (@PatHarty) November 9, 2021
Less cash for Frost, more to attract new assistants?Updated
It seems to me that Frost restructured contract in part to create more money for the pending staff hires that he will now be making...ADs think of coaching money in a large pool...They created close to $3M in room for the new hires with the exact same total pool— Joel Klatt (@joelklatt) November 9, 2021
Loyalty prevails on this dayUpdated
Bob Devaney told me “Once a Husker, always a Husker”Never been prouder of being a Husker than I am today. @TrevAlberts did the right thing. Loyalty, not blind loyalty, should carry the day. “Scott Frost is one of Us” Well said Trev. @coach_frost PS: let’s get back to option.— McGraw Milhaven (@McGrawMilhaven) November 9, 2021