Nebraska’s Frost says he and new OC Whipple on same page

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LINCOLN, Neb. — Embattled Nebraska coach Scott Frost said there is no tension between him and new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple following the Cornhuskers’ season-opening loss to Northwestern in Ireland.

Frost, 15-30 over five seasons, said in his remarks minutes after the 31-28 loss that the Huskers need to be more creative on offense and the coaching staff must work together better.

His comments were interpreted in some quarters as criticism of Whipple, who took over the play-calling duties from Frost when he was hired away from Pittsburgh.

Asked at his weekly news conference if he and Whipple were at odds, Frost said, “No, not at all. He’s really smart. Really good at what he does. We have a lot of other coaches who are really smart and good at what they do. We need to find our rhythm of putting all the best stuff together. I thought it was good on Saturday. It can be better.”

Whipple is scheduled to meet with the media Wednesday. The Huskers play North Dakota this weekend.

Frost had called plays for nearly a decade, since his time as an assistant at Oregon, and he understands the singular focus the task requires.

“Simply said, if I was calling a game, I wouldn’t want somebody else shoving a lot of stuff down my throat,” he said. “You get in a rhythm as a play-caller. That’s the approach I took. Whip’s an elite play-caller. I think that showed up in the first two-and-a-half quarters. You see what can be done with this offense.”

In the first half, the Huskers’ offense was as sharp as it’s been at any point in the Frost era. But it bogged down in the middle of the third quarter and never recovered, and the running game did next to nothing besides Anthony Grant‘s 46-yard touchdown run.

Frost has taken full blame for his ill-advised call for an onside kick when the Huskers led Northwestern 28-17 in the third quarter. The Wildcats recovered at the Nebraska 44, seized the momentum and scored two touchdowns while the Huskers’ offense went dormant.

Frost raised eyebrows with two postgame comments. First, he said, “I think we’re going to have to learn as an offensive staff that you’ve got to be a little creative in this league.”

Later, he acknowledged it’s been difficult for him to give up play-calling.

“I’ve said this, there’s no one way to do things, but I think we can cooperate a little bit more,” he said.

The Huskers rushed for only 110 yards, mostly on plays run between the tackles.

“In the Big Ten it’s hard to just turn around and hand it to a back and think you’re going to be real consistent,” he said Tuesday. “I think I was referring (in the Saturday postgame) to having a few more things in the run game that are schemed for the particular opponent.”

There was one designed run for quarterback Casey Thompson, his 1-yard touchdown in the second quarter, and backup Logan Smothers entered for one play and carried for 7 yards.

Asked if he would have liked to run the quarterback more, Frost said, “We did run some of it. If I was calling it, maybe we’d call a little more, but I also wouldn’t have been able to call the things (Whipple) did to score us the first 28 points. It’s going to have to be a marriage of different things and I think we’ll continue to get better at that.”

The Huskers finished with 465 yards, but they netted just 84 on their last six possessions.

“It was 75 plays on offense, and not a lot of complaints about the play calls from my end,” said Thompson, who passed for 355 yards. “I think every run and pass play we could have executed. We have to make a few changes and adjustments.”

Georgia extends contract for AD Josh Brooks, plans two new football practice fields

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ATHENS, Ga. – On the heels of a second straight national football championship, Georgia has rewarded athletic director Josh Brooks a contract extension that ties him to the Bulldogs through at least 2029.

The athletic association board, wrapping up its annual spring meeting Friday at a resort on Lake Oconee, also announced plans for a new track and field facility that will free up space for two more football practice fields.

Brooks’ new contract will increase his salary to $1.025 million a year, with annual raises of $100,000.

The 42-year-old Brooks, who took over the athletic department in 2021 after Greg McGarity retired, called the Georgia job “a dream for me” and said he hopes to spend the rest of his career in Athens.

“I am extremely grateful,” Brooks said. “I got into this business 20-plus years ago as a student equipment manager. My first job at Louisiana-Monroe was making $20,000 a year in football operations.”

The Georgia board approved a fiscal 2024 budget of $175.2 million, a nearly 8% increase from the most recent budget of $162.2 million and the sign of a prosperous program that is flush with money after its success on the gridiron.

The school received approval to move forward with its preliminary plans for a new track and field facility, which will be built across the street from the complex hosting the soccer and and softball teams.

The current track stadium is located adjacent to the Butts-Mehre athletic facility, which hosts the practice fields and training facilities for the football program.

Georgia lost a chunk of its outdoor fields when it built a new indoor practice facility. After the new track and field stadium is completed, the current space will be converted to two full-length, grass football practice fields at the request of coach Kirby Smart.

“He wants to find efficient ways to practice, and there is a lot of truth to the issues we’ve had with our current practice fields,” Brooks said. “There is a lot of strain on our turf facilities staff to keep that field in great shape when half the day it is getting shade, so that has been a challenge as well. For our football program, it is better to practice on grass fields than (artificial) turf, so to be able to have two side-by-side grass fields is huge. It makes for a much more efficient practice.”

The new track and field complex, which will continue to be named Spec Towns Track, will also include an indoor facility, the first of its kind in the state of Georgia.

Iowa AD Gary Barta announces retirement after 17 years at Big Ten school

Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa athletic director Gary Barta will retire on August 1 after 17 years at the university, the school announced Friday.

Barta, 59, is one of the longest-tenured athletic directors in a Power Five conference. He was hired by Iowa in 2006 after being the AD at Wyoming.

An interim director will be announced next week, Iowa said.

In September, Iowa hired former Ball State athletic director Beth Goetz to be deputy director of athletics and chief operating officer, putting her in position to possibly succeed Barta.

“It has been an absolute privilege and honor to serve in this role the past 17 years,” Barta said in a statement. “This decision didn’t come suddenly, nor did it come without significant thought, discussion, and prayer.”

“That said, I’m confident this is the right time for me and for my family.”

Iowa won four NCAA national team titles and 27 Big Ten team titles during Barta’s tenure. The women’s basketball team is coming off an appearance in the national championship game and the wrestling team is coming off a second-place finish at the NCAA championships.

Barta served as the chairman of the College Football Playoff committee in 2020 and 2021.

He faced heavy criticism over more than $11 million in settlements for lawsuits in recent years alleging racial and sexual discrimination within the athletic department.

Lawsuits filed by former field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum and associate athletics director Jane Meyer led to a $6.5 million payout.

Iowa had to pay $400,000 as part of a Title IX lawsuit brought by athletes after it cut four sports in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the agreement, Iowa reinstated the women’s swimming and diving program and add another women’s sport.

Iowa added women’s wrestling, the first among Power Five schools to compete this year.

A lawsuit brought by former football players alleging racial discrimination within the program was settled for $4.2 million last March, which prompted state auditor Rob Sand to call for Barta’s ouster.

“Gary Barta’s departure is a long time coming given the four different lawsuits for discrimination that cost Iowa more than $11 million,” Sand posted on Twitter.

The university did not allow taxpayer money to be used for the settlement with the former players.

Barta led Iowa through $380 million of facility upgrades, including renovation of Kinnick Stadium, the construction of a new football facility, a basketball practice facility and a training center for the wrestling teams.

Under Barta, Iowa has had just one head football coach (Kirk Ferentz), women’s basketball coach (Lisa Bluder) and wrestling coach (Tom Brands). All were in place when he arrived.

Barta has also come under scrutiny for allowing Ferentz to employee his son, Brian Ferentz, as offensive coordinator. To comply with the university’s nepotism policy, Brian Ferentz reports to Barta.