Nebraska coach Scott Frost wasn’t afraid to take the next step — and perhaps the step after that.
Amid reports that the Big Ten was leaning toward canceling the 2020 football season this fall, Frost tossed out what that could mean for Nebraska during Monday’s press conference.
It’s important to put that out there word for word so no context is lost.
“We want to play a Big Ten schedule,” Frost said. “I hope that’s what happens. Our university is committed to playing no matter what — no matter what that looks like and how that looks. We want to play no matter who it is or no matter where it is. We’ll see how those chips fall. We certainly hope it’s in the Big Ten. If it isn’t, I think we’re prepared to look for other options.”
“Our University is committed to playing no matter what, no matter what that looks like and how that looks. We want to play no matter who it is or where it is.”#Huskers HC Scott Frost on opponents for 2020. pic.twitter.com/kTPN9znv0v
— Husker Sports (@HuskerSports) August 10, 2020
That is a loaded quote on multiple levels.
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Nebraska is putting pressure on the Big Ten decision makers, who reportedly were leaning toward canceling the season Sunday night. The Huskers are setting the trend for any Power 5 program that wants to play if their conference is not available. Frost went there.
It’s a bold statement considering the college football landscape in the second week of August amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.
Will it affect the Big Ten’s decision-making process? Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren and the university presidents already are getting that from the top two revenue producers in the conference, Ohio State and Michigan.
Nebraska — which played its first season in the conference in 2011 — doesn’t carry the same voice within the conference. The Huskers are not the same superpower they were in the 1990s; Frost is 9-15 the past two seasons at his alma mater and the program ranked seventh among Big Ten schools in revenue generated in 2018-19.
That does not mean Frost’s comments are any less significant. After all, Nebraska is ranked No. 21 in revenue, and that is one spot ahead of Clemson, which has played in the College Football Playoff each of the past five seasons.
It suggests an alignment with athletic director Bill Moos that Nebraska — a state with fewer than 30,000 reported COVID-19 cases — is willing to seek other alternatives if the Big Ten cannot go in 2020. Of course, those motivations are financial.
Frost says “let’s skip past” all the economic fallout and consider, “If we cancel football tomorrow, we’re throwing up white flag and saying ‘this can’t be done.’ … The virus is going to be here whether we play football or not.”
— Parker Gabriel (@HuskerExtraPG) August 10, 2020
This also comes on the same day that Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse — a former university president — sent a letter to the Big Ten presidents detailing the reasons why the Huskers should play.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) has drafted a letter that he plans to send to Big Ten presidents, identifying reasons why he believes college football should be played.@SINow obtained a copy.
Sasse is a former university president. pic.twitter.com/xrpRjiWREf
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) August 10, 2020
That sets up an interesting potential showdown if the Big Ten cancels the season. Can Nebraska leave the conference for one season? That seems like a losing legal battle, but we’re in a college football world where Notre Dame is a member of the ACC in 2020. We didn’t think that would happen either.
Frost’s comments show that Nebraska does not have undying loyalty to its membership with the Big Ten. Remember, Frost is the same player who led Nebraska — then in the Big 12 — to a split national championship with Michigan, the Big Ten champion, in 1998. Frost is the same coach who led UCF to an undefeated season in 2017 and attacked the College Football Playoff structure afterward. He has never been short on offering bold opinions, and “other options” falls under that category.
It’s fun to think about in passing. Imagine Nebraska returning to the Big 12 for one season and rekindling those rivalries with Oklahoma and Texas. How about a one-year rental in the SEC with an opener against Tennessee — the team Frost capped his college career against. Frost put that next step in Nebraska fans’ minds, and that’s why those words are significant. The “other options” likely are not feasible at this point, but the implication should not be lost on the Big Ten or Nebraska.
The Big Ten still has not made a decision about the 2020 season, but Nebraska clearly has.
The Huskers want to play, no matter the context.
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