Ask Farrell: Can Frost still return Nebraska to the elite?

Adam Gorney and Mike Farrell,

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When Scott Frost was hired at Nebraska, he was celebrated as a big-time hire, a hometown boy who grew up in the state and won a national title as the starting QB for the Huskers. He was returning to Lincoln to make the program nationally relevant again.

It’s still early in his Nebraska career, as he hasn't even completed his second season there. Frost has a lot more leeway than Willie Taggart did at Florida State or Chad Morris had at Arkansas, both fired recently before their second seasons had ended.

But things have not started out much better for Frost at his alma mater.

In Frost’s first season, Nebraska finished 4-8, the same record the Huskers had in coach Mike Riley’s last year and the worst showing since 1961 when the team went 3-6-1. Year No. 2 was supposed to be different and the Huskers opened the season ranked in top 25 and a popular pick to win the Big Ten West.

But now Nebraska finds itself at 4-5 with games against Wisconsin, Maryland and Iowa remaining. The Badgers are 15-point favorites.

MORE ASK FARRELL: Who could recruit well enough to turn around FSU quickly?

CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals100 | Position | Team | State

During his two seasons at UCF, Frost took over a winless program and went 6-7 before then going 13-0 and being in the conversation for the College Football Playoff. He was the national coach of the year and the top candidate for multiple heavyweight programs looking for a coach.

But since coming to Nebraska, Frost is 8-13 and 5-10 in the Big Ten. The Huskers average just 26.3 points per game. Quarterback Adrian Martinez was receiving preseason Heisman hype and he’s sitting at seven touchdowns and six interceptions in seven games.

All this has prompted a headline on ESPN this week that asks: Is Nebraska too far gone, even for Scott Frost?

Nebraska finished third in the Big Ten in the team recruiting rankings last recruiting cycle, a rare bright spot as the Huskers landed 11 four-star pledges.

In the 2020 class, the Huskers find themselves in eighth place in the conference rankings with only 13 total commits and four four-stars. They have already secured a huge 2021 commitment from massive offensive lineman Teddy Prochazka from Elkhorn (Neb.) Elkhorn South.

We ask Rivals National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell his thoughts on the Nebraska program, whether it can become a Big Ten and national contender again and if Frost - or anyone - can get that done quickly?


“Scott Frost is the right hire for Nebraska. That I’m sure of. But can he lead the Huskers to a national title? That’s a little far-fetched based on the balance of power in the NCAA in this day and age.

"Aside from Ohio State, all of the national champions over the last 15 years have come from the Southeast, the West or the Mid-South. That’s the trend and it’s not changing anytime soon. Why? The majority of the talent in college football comes from the warm weather states and luring those prospects north is becoming more and more difficult. Frost can recruit well but not well enough to challenge Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Oklahoma, Georgia and the rest.

"So if recruiting won’t get it done then coaching can, right? Yes, to an extent. And Frost is a very good coach, but navigating the Big Ten and then the playoff is a tall order. Nebraska can win the Big Ten West here and there and perhaps even win the Big Ten and make the playoffs, but right now that’s as far as they get. And I don’t know what will change this.

"The recruiting advantage that other schools have cannot be overcome in this day and age. And it’s not only Nebraska dealing with that reality, but also Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State and many other proud programs.”