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Steven M. Sipple: Frost shows calm amid heat and other takeaways from NU news luncheon
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Steven M. Sipple: Frost shows calm amid heat and other takeaways from NU news luncheon

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Buffalo vs. Nebraska, 9.11

Nebraska football head coach Scott Frost talks with UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green after the Huskers defeated Buffalo 28-3 on Sept. 11 at Memorial Stadium.

Beginning with the starting QB, Steven M. Sipple and Parker Gabriel discuss four Husker notes Monday at Memorial Stadium.

Following a bye week, several Nebraska football players on hand for the team's weekly media luncheon seemed genuinely refreshed. 

So did Husker head coach Scott Frost. 

He walked into the room quickly, with a bounce in his step. He joked with reporters. He was upbeat. If he's feeling pressure, he isn't showing it.

Other takeaways from the day:

1. News of the day: Perhaps the biggest news of the day in college football came out of Lubbock, Texas, where Texas Tech fired head coach Matt Wells.

The 48-year-old Wells, in his third season in Lubbock after replacing Kliff Kingsbury, was 13-17 at the school. The Red Raiders are 5-3 this season, but Wells was just 7-16 in Big 12 games, and only two of those wins were against teams that finished with a winning record.

Wells was under pressure in Lubbock following last year's 4-6 finish. 

Meanwhile, the 46-year-old Frost is 15-25 in three-plus seasons at Nebraska, including 10-21 in the Big Ten. Although the Huskers are only 3-5 this season (1-4 Big Ten), Frost seems to have support from his administration. NU chancellor Ronnie Green twice this season greeted Frost on the field following wins. What's more, first-year Husker athletic director Trev Alberts expressed support for Frost in an ESPN article published the week following a three-point home loss Oct. 9 to then-No. 9 Michigan. 

"I'm never going to be the person that says he's coaching for his job," Alberts said. "We don't do that. I've never said, 'You must win this many games or you're fired,' and I told Scott. We're on the same page. We're working together. I want to see growth. I'm seeing growth. I'm proud of it. I think Scott is a really good coach. I don't know what happened the last 3½ years. All I'm worried about is right now, and I'm really proud of how our coaches and assistant coaches have attacked this year. But it's hard to make a judgment on anything right now."

BTN analyst Gerry DiNardo, who was a head coach at three different Power-5 schools, says decisions about whether to keep a coach or fire him can get complicated. 

It's much more complex, he said, than simply looking at wins and losses.

"The problem athletic directors have is not necessarily evaluating the record — anybody could do that, obviously — it's more about what the record should be," DiNardo said. 

In Frost's case at Nebraska, that's certainly a complex discussion.

DiNardo points to a key question: Does the athletic director believe in the coach's plan?  

"I had three presidents at Indiana, three ADs and six mission statements," he said. "Who was deciding whether they believed in my plan or not?"  

That part isn't so complicated in Frost's case at Nebraska. 

Perhaps that contributes to his sense of calm. 

2. Millen in Frost's corner: Truth be told, Nebraska's media luncheon was a bit on the quiet side. 

Not a lot of big news or riveting sound bites. 

So, I didn't mind taking a call from Big Ten analyst Matt Millen, who played on four Super Bowl-winning teams and later became president and chief executive officer of the Detroit Lions. 

He's a fan of Frost's coaching ability. He thinks Nebraska fans should be patient with him. In fact, Millen said, he told Frost when he took the Husker job that he would need five years to get the program rolling. 

"This isn't the old Nebraska," said Millen, 63, who was an All-American defender at Penn State in 1978. "Rules have changed. It's all different now in the college game. Plus, it's hard to recruit at Nebraska. It just is." 

I'll have more from Millen later in the week. 

At any rate, I wanted to talk to him because he was the color analyst for Wisconsin's 30-13 win Saturday at Purdue. The Huskers and Boilermakers (4-3, 2-2 Big Ten) square off at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Lincoln. 

Millen, by the way, watched the entirety of Nebraska's loss to Michigan. If the Huskers play Saturday the way they did against the Wolverines, Millen said, they should prevail and get their second conference win. 

3. Mental hurdle: Frost was posed an interesting question: Is there a last mental hurdle the team must clear in order to get over the proverbial hump in close games?  

Frost, of course, is adamant about progress in his program. He thinks the breakthrough is near. He says it all the time. 

"The progress is obvious," he said Monday. "The team's playing hard. We're playing more physical. We're bigger, faster, stronger. There are some areas we need to fix, but I think people recognize the type of team we have and the level we're playing at. 

"It's up to us to make the plays when it counts to get it over the hump." 

Frost noted that winning can become a habit of sorts. 

"Human beings are habitual," he said. "When you're used to winning, I think it becomes a little easier. When you're not there yet, I think it's a little harder. Maybe you're waiting on it to happen instead of making it happen.  

"I do think that little bit of extra confidence, or just knowing it's going to happen rather than hoping, probably could take us to the next step. We're trying to be as psychological with the guys as we can. But they believe in how good a team they are. Now it's just a matter of making a play when it counts, or when it matters the most." 

4. A big thank you: We should point out sometimes the players who take time to materialize for these luncheons because it's not like it's always a pleasant discussion in a season like this. Those on hand Monday were Adrian Martinez, Casey Rogers, Ben Stille, Chris Kolarevic, Nouredin Nouili, Ty Robinson and Turner Corcoran. 

Apologies if I missed anyone. 

Enjoy the week.

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