Nebraska's players have been set up to fail in the final 2 games, and that's incredibly unfair to them
Do me a favor, college football fan.
When you flip over to the Nebraska game either this Saturday afternoon at Wisconsin or on Black Friday versus Iowa, bite your tongue. Put those tweets in your drafts folder. It’s going to be really easy to make jokes, because I’m anticipating these games to be full-on disasters for the Huskers. But we should all take a few weeks off from mocking this underachieving team.
Well, unless your snarky comments are solely directed at Scott Frost. In that case, send 2 or 3.
Frost did the unthinkable last week, gutting his offensive coaching staff when there are still 2 games left of the 2021 season, and they just so happen to be against the 2 best teams in the West, who are going to be extremely locked in with a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game still on the line. Frost abruptly fired 4 offensive assistants last week after athletic director Trev Alberts announced Frost was returning for a fifth season. That’s right — offensive coordinator Matt Lubick, quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco, offensive line coach Greg Austin and running backs coach Ryan Held were all told to clean out their offices. Frost promoted 3 analysts and a quality control assistant to replace them and join the only assistant who survived Nebraska’s version of the Red Wedding, tight ends coach Sean Beckton.
There’s no way to spin this: Frost has set up his players to fail in the final 2 weeks of the season, and that’s incredibly unfair to them. After all, they’re the ones who have been playing through broken jaws and high ankle sprains. They’re the ones who have to go out there and lay their bodies on the line against 2 of the most physical defenses in the country. They’re the ones who have to live with these results for the rest of their lives.
Meanwhile, Frost gets to hang out on the sideline, make a few bewildered faces at the officials and collect another check, knowing he has another year. It’s shameful.
Why would Frost do this? Well, with it being the bye week and uncertainty swirling, Alberts announced Frost was coming back for another season. That way when Frost and his staff were out recruiting in preparation for National Signing Day next month, he could definitively tell recruits that he was coming back and wasn’t a lame duck. Only, he obviously didn’t want his offensive assistants back next season, so he didn’t want them to be the ones pitching the Nebraska program to recruits. So, Frost ripped the bandage off right then and there, a move with an eye toward the future.
But shouldn’t Frost’s loyalty be to his players? I mean, the current ones who have done everything he’s asked of them and will carry the burden of this for the rest of their lives. These moves clearly put them at a massive disadvantage going against the No. 1 defense in the country this week and the No. 12 defense in the country next week. Those were already going to be very difficult games to move the ball. Now? It would be a minor miracle if the Huskers crack double digits in either game. And I would argue, it puts them at a significantly higher risk for injury. Being unprepared in football, especially against hard-hitting teams like Wisconsin and Iowa, is dangerous.
Frost didn’t have to do this. He could’ve sucked it up and dealt with the awkwardness for a few more weeks before making changes after the season. That’s what LSU did with Ed Orgeron. How many other coaching staffs are just playing out the string, knowing changes are coming in the offseason? Plenty. It’s not like those fired assistants were going to sabotage the program. Their loyalty is to the players, the ones they have spent countless hours with over the last few years and built relationships with. You know, the players they’ve looked in the eye and promised their families that they would care for. Now, those players have to go out there with a patchwork coaching staff and compete with 2 teams with which Nebraska was already going to have a hard time.
If I’m Adrian Martinez, I’m beyond pissed. Here’s a guy who broke his jaw against Michigan State and hasn’t missed a game. He hasn’t complained. The only reason we even know about it is because Frost, after insisting that Martinez was fine, used it as an excuse to save his own butt a few weeks ago, just days before the announcement of his return was made.
Normally when a team is playing out the string, I’d advocate for playing the youngsters to get them some valuable experience going into next season. It would be great to see what backup QBs Logan Smothers and Heinrich Haarberg could do. But with the current circumstances what they are, I don’t think it’s fair for them to be thrown into the fire.
Frost has gotten some praise for putting his money where his mouth is and taking a big pay cut, when he probably could have made more money just by letting Nebraska fire him. He said, “It’s an easy decision for me to make any sacrifices I have to — to have the privilege to continue to be here.” Yeah, he’s calling this a “sacrifice.” He has to live on only $4 million per year. Whoop-de-do!
Really, he is sacrificing the well-being of his players and any chance they had of scoring an upset of a lifetime in these next 2 weeks.
Frost has gone about this in an incredibly selfish way, all at the expense of his players. Shame on him.