OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska fans are gearing up for what to them seems the imminent arrival of native son Scott Frost as the Cornhuskers new football coach.
The message board outside the Husker Hounds novelty store flashes “Come Home Scott Frost,” and inside you can buy T-shirts reading “Nebraska Frost Advisory, Restore Glory” and, in a nod to the coming Star Wars movie, “May The Frost Be With You.”
Bartenders around town are setting drinks on “Hire Scott Frost Now!” coasters, and Facebook pages in support of Frost have popped up.
Frost, whose Central Florida Golden Knights are unbeaten and hosting Memphis in the American Athletic Conference championship game this week, has been the topic du jour every day for a month on the all-sports radio stations in Omaha and Lincoln. Even hosts on Omaha’s 50,000-watt news talk station have Frost mania.
“I would compare it to a little kid on Christmas Eve who knows what he’s getting. You can see the package, can see the wrapping paper on it, you know what it is, but you get so anxious to open it,” said Joe Quinn, co-host of the afternoon show on Omaha’s 590 ESPN, the flagship station for the Husker Sports Network. “You just beg your mom or dad. I want to open it. I know what it is. I just want to see it.”
Anticipation about Frost has heightened since Mike Riley was fired Saturday, the day after the Huskers lost 56-14 to Iowa and finished the season 4-8.
Athletic director Bill Moos acknowledged Frost was on his list of candidates. Frost hasn’t done much to tamp down speculation.
“I’d be hurt if Nebraska wasn’t interested in me,” Frost said at his Monday news conference in Orlando. “We’re undefeated, and I’m from there. When you win, a lot of people are interested in you.”
Frost also deflected a question about whether he would say he would return to UCF in 2018. “I’m just not going to talk about it. All I want to talk about is this (2017) football team.”
Scott Strunc, who owns Husker Hounds, is so convinced Frost will be the next coach that he ordered T-shirts trumpeting his return. As shirts were being put on display Monday, Strunc said, eager shoppers started grabbing them out of the shipping boxes.
Strunc said the coaching hire is the most significant at Nebraska since Bob Devaney came from Wyoming in 1962. Devaney turned around the woebegone program and combined with Tom Osborne to win five national championships between 1970 and 1997.
“Ever since Tom retired it’s been one disaster after another,” Strunc said. “Fans are so beaten down they expect bad things to happen. The Husker fan is very fragile now.”
Omaha attorney Mike Fitzpatrick, who regularly prints up coasters to advertise his law firm, ordered 15,000 “Hire Scott Frost Now” coasters and distributed them among two dozen bars.
Fitzpatrick admired Frost’s toughness and winning attitude as quarterback of the 1997 national championship team and thought he should have been hired instead of Riley three years ago.
“He was a nice man and all that, but it was a complete disaster,” Fitzpatrick said. “So I was thinking about it and stewing on it and I’m going, ‘I should just do a run of 15,000 coasters.’ A lot of times people will take their picture with the coasters and put them on their Facebook and Instagram.”
His hope is that athletic director Bill Moos, hired in October, will see those pictures.
“Mr. Moos, not being from the state of Nebraska and only being here a short period of time, hasn’t had a chance to see the culture and how we do things in Nebraska. I’m convinced the only way Nebraska is going to gain prominence again is by having one of the guys who was there at the time we were (prominent).”
Until Frost’s hiring is made official, the fans wait and hope.
“If it doesn’t play out,” Strunc said, “you’re going to have to talk the whole state off the ledge.”
More AP college football: http://collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.