Scott Frost fired as Nebraska coach following 1-2 start

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LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska fired Scott Frost, the situation so dire in the once-proud football program that athletic director Trev Alberts made the move only three weeks before the coach’s contract buyout would have been cut in half.

The Cornhuskers lost 45-42 to Georgia Southern as a three-touchdown favorite at home Saturday night, and the student section chanted “Fire Frost” at the end of the game.

Frost was 16-31 three games into his fifth season, and his .340 winning percentage was second-worst among Nebraska coaches who lasted more than four years.

Associate head coach Mickey Joseph was named interim coach for the rest of the season. The Huskers play No. 6 Oklahoma at home this week.

Joseph, 54, is the first Black head coach at Nebraska in any sport and among four new members of the staff this season. Like Frost, he is a former Nebraska quarterback, having played from 1988-91.

“Earlier today I met with Coach Frost and informed him we were making a change in the leadership of our football program, effective immediately,” Alberts said in a statement. “Scott has poured his heart and soul into the Nebraska football program both as a quarterback and a head coach, and I appreciate his work and dedication.

“After the disappointing start to our season, I decided the best path forward for our program was to make a change in our head coaching position.”

Joseph returned to Nebraska as wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator after coaching receivers at LSU from 2017-21. He also was LSU’s assistant head coach his last two seasons there.

Alberts made a surprising move last November when he announced he would bring back Frost after what turned out to be a 3-9 season. Frost fired four offensive assistants, had his pay cut from $5 million to $4 million and agreed to having his buyout drop from $15 million to $7.5 million on Oct. 1.

There was no immediate word of a negotiated settlement. Absent that, Nebraska is sacrificing millions of dollars to cut the cord now.

Alberts apparently had seen enough. The Huskers opened the season with a 31-28 loss to Northwestern in Ireland, struggled into the fourth quarter before putting away FCS North Dakota 38-17 and then allowed 642 yards while losing to a Sun Belt Conference team in Georgia Southern.

The 47-year-old coach’s spectacular failure was never envisioned when he left Central Florida as the hottest coach in America.

The storyline for his hiring was delicious, with Frost returning to his home state and the school he quarterbacked to a share of the 1997 national championship.

He had taken over a Central Florida program that went 0-12 in 2015, and two years later he led the Golden Knights to a 13-0 record and a Peach Bowl win over Auburn.

Frost, who grew up 90 minutes west of Lincoln in Wood River, was hailed as a savior of the program when former athletic director Bill Moos signed him to a seven-year, $35 million contract.

Moos boasted he had gotten “the pick of the litter” from the 2017-18 coaching cycle and that Big Ten powers would be “running scared” once Frost got the Huskers on track. Frost, when asked about having to possibly adjust his style to the Big Ten, shot back that he hoped the Big Ten would have to adjust to him instead.

What followed were four-plus seasons of underachieving and undisciplined play – and unhappiness among a loyal fan base desperately hoping for a return to a semblance of the program’s glory days.

There was never an indication that would happen under Frost. His Huskers were famous for losing close games – 22 of his 31 losses were decided by eight points or fewer – and for getting beat as double-digit favorites.

The Frost era was the worst at Nebraska since Bill Jennings was 15-34-1 (.310) in the five years before Hall of Fame coaches Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne reigned over four decades of sustained success that brought five national championships and 22 conference titles.

The Huskers have gone through five coaches since Osborne retired in 1997, and they are a shell of their former selves. They haven’t won a conference championship since 1999, and they haven’t won more than five games in a season since going 9-4 in 2016 under Mike Riley.

Frost was 10-26 in Big Ten games and, worse, 6-18 against West Division opponents. His teams never won more than three conference games in a season or finished higher than fifth place in the seven-team West.

WVU RB Donaldson in concussion protocol, out for Baylor game

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) West Virginia running back CJ Donaldson is in concussion protocol and will miss next week’s home game with Baylor after he was injured in a loss to Texas, coach Neal Brown said Tuesday.

Donaldson remained on the ground after he was tackled on a short gain in the third quarter of Saturday’s 38-20 loss to the Longhorns. His helmet and shoulder pads were removed and he was carted off the field on a stretcher. After the game he was cleared to travel home with the team.

“He’s recovering,” Brown said. “There is a strict return-to-play (policy) that we have to follow here and I’m zero involved in it. All I do is ask the question. They don’t even start the return-to-play until they’re symptom free.”

Donaldson, a 240-pound freshman, leads the Mountaineers with 389 rushing yards and six touchdowns, with an average of 6.9 yards per carry.

West Virginia (2-3, 0-2 Big 12 Conference) is idle this week and hosts Baylor (3-2, 1-1) next Thursday, Oct. 13.

Taulia Tagovailoa says he visited brother, Tua, over weekend

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was able to visit his brother, Tua, last weekend after the Terrapins’ game against Michigan State, he said Tuesday in his first comments to reporters since Tua left the Miami Dolphins’ game against Cincinnati last Thursday with a frightening head injury.

Taulia played in Maryland’s win over Michigan State on Saturday but was not made available to the media afterward. He said Tuesday he was able to go to Florida and spend some time with his brother, who suffered a concussion four days after taking a hit in another game but was cleared to return.

“He’s doing good, everything’s fine,” he said. “My biggest thing was just seeing him and spending as much time as I can with him. I came back Sunday night.”

Tagovailoa said he appreciates the support for his brother.

“My brother’s my heart. He’s someone I look up to, someone I talk to every day,” he said. “It was just a hard scene for me to see that.”

Tagovailoa said he was in constant contact with his mother about his brother’s situation, and he was finally able to talk to Tua on Friday night.

“I really just wanted to go there and just spend time with my family, hug them and stuff like that,” Taulia Tagovailoa said. “But he told me he’s a big fan of us, and he’d rather watch me play on Saturday. … After that phone call, I was happy and getting back to my normal routine.”

Tagovailoa indicated that his brother’s injury didn’t make him too nervous about his own health when he took the field again.

“I guess when that happens to someone like my brother, or when anything happens to one of my family members, I don’t really think of how it will be able to affect me,” he said. “I just think of: `Is he OK? How’s he doing?”‘

Although it was a short visit to Florida, he said he and Tua made the most of their chance to be together.

“I just wanted to make sure he’s healthy and stuff, which he is,” Taulia Tagovailoa said.