Scott Frost fired as Nebraska coach following 1-2 start

Steven Branscombe/Getty Images
2 Comments

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.

Minnesota football players’ discrimination lawsuit dismissed

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by nine former University of Minnesota football players who were accused of sexual assault in 2016 in a case that roiled the school’s football program.

The lawsuit against the school claimed that the players faced emotional distress and financial damage after being falsely accused of being sex offenders. The players, who were identified in the lawsuit as John Does, sought unspecified damages for willful and malicious discrimination.

A woman alleged up to a dozen football players raped her or watched and cheered at an off-campus party in 2016. None of the players were ever charged.

The university found that 10 football players committed sexual misconduct. Five of them were expelled or suspended for violating student conduct codes, and the others were cleared on appeal.

In their lawsuit, the players alleged that the woman initiated the sexual encounters with players and an underage recruit.

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank dismissed the lawsuit last week, saying the former players did not prove any of their claims, including allegations of bias by university investigators or pressure from Athletic Director Mark Coyle and former President Eric Kaler, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

David Madgett, an attorney for the players, said Tuesday that they are considering an appeal but have to determine if it makes sense financially and in terms of letting the former players get on with their lives. He said it was disappointing that the outcome was determined by the judge’s version of events and not decided by a jury.

“It’s disappointing to see disputes decided in this way,” Madgett said. “That’s the way things are decided more and more these days. … It’s disappointing you don’t get your day in court.”

When the allegations became public in 2016, players threatened to boycott the team’s trip to the Holiday Bowl. But after a graphic report of the investigation was released, the players agreed to play in the game.

University of Minnesota spokesman Jake Ricker said the school appreciated the judge’s decision affirming the actions taken in the case. He said the university would continue its work focusing on sexual misconduct awareness, prevention and response.

Frank dismissed the lawsuit in 2019, but an appeals court reinstated part of it in 2021 and returned it to Frank.

The players, all of whom are Black, also initially claimed racial discrimination, but that claim was previously dismissed.

The only remaining claim alleged Title IX gender discrimination. The former players noted that they never faced criminal charges, but Frank’s ruling said that “is certainly not evidence of a judicial adjudication or that plaintiffs ‘were proven innocent.'”

The men also claimed that an investigator for the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action used “manipulative tactics” with them in interviews and that their accuser helped draft the report. The players also alleged that “prior failed investigations motivated” the the school to punish them.

Frank said all the claims were unsupported by the evidence and “no reasonable jury could find that the University disciplined plaintiffs on the basis of sex.”

Michigan State player who swung helmet gets probation

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A Michigan State football player who swung his helmet at a Michigan player in a stadium tunnel expressed regret Tuesday and said he’s “just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue” on the field.

Khary Crump, a defensive back, was sentenced to probation. He was one of seven Michigan State players charged in a skirmish that followed a loss at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 29.

Crump was the only Spartan facing a felony, but that charge was dismissed in an agreement to plead guilty to misdemeanors. His record will be scrubbed clean if he stays out of trouble while on probation.

“Unfortunately, an exchange of words (took place), I felt attacked and unfortunately I did what I did,” Crump said of the tunnel altercation involving Michigan’s Gemon Green. “I’m not proud of that. I’m looking forward to moving forward.”

Crump was suspended by coach Mel Tucker. In addition, the Big Ten has suspended him for eight games in 2023.

“I had difficulties trying to stomach my actions … on that fateful day, but it happened. I can’t take it back,” Crump told MLive.com after the court hearing. “Honestly, I’m just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue in the future — on the football field, of course.”

At least four other players charged with misdemeanors Will Likely have their cases dismissed in exchange for community service and other conditions. The cases against two others are pending.