By Darren Ivy
‘NOT BLIND LOYALTY’
Coaching changes follow four-game losing streak, but frost is coming back it has been a wild stretch for Nebraska athletics since our most recent publication during the last week of October.
Nebraska football has continued to be competitive but still not found a way to get over the hump in falling to 3-8, 1-7 in the Big Ten. It’s losing streak has now reached five games in a row with a home contest and senior day showdown against Iowa left the Friday after Thanksgiving.
In case you are wondering, seven losses in a row is the school record back in 194243. Frost’s teams also lost six games in a row to begin his first season back in 2018 before winning four of their final six games that season.
Coming off a bye, the Huskers suffered a 28-23 loss to Purdue on Oct. 30 and a 26-17 loss to No. 6 Ohio State on Nov. 6.
After the Ohio State game, it was announced quarterback Adrian Martinez had been playing with a broken jaw since the Michigan State game and high ankle sprain since before the Minnesota game. Yet no other quarterback had taken any snaps under center since the Northwestern game.
The rumor mill about Frost’s future really heated up after the Purdue and Ohio State losses assured NU a fourth-consecutive losing season under him and fifth in a row – something that hasn’t happened since the Huskers had six losing seasons in a row from 1956 to 1961 and nine losing seasons in a row from 1941 to 1949.
Fan frustrations and apathy also was apparent at the 11 a.m. kickoff against the Buckeyes before the smallest home crowd of the season. Who would have thought at the beginning season that the Ohio State game at 84,426 would be the lowest attended home game of the season, even lower than Fordham and Buffalo?
Two days later on Nov. 8, Athletic Director Trev Alberts announced that despite a 15-27 record in nearly four full seasons at that point, Frost would be coming back in 2022, but with a restructured contract that involved a pay cut and smaller buy out should Frost be let go after next season.
“It’s no secret that I’ve always wanted this to work,” Alberts said. “It would be unfair to say that I wasn’t looking for a way to keep Scott as our coach. I don’t think there is clear definition – there’s not a lot of empirical data out there to suggest this will work, let’s be honest. But I also think, if there’s a decision point – whether it’s football or anything else, you know, Scott’s a brother, he’s a Husker, and he’s a Nebraskan. I thought if, all things being equal, if there’s a decision to make, if there’s some uncertainty, if we’re going to err – while I’m here as the athletic director – we will probably err on the side of loyalty. But it won’t be blind loyalty.”
Along with that announcement, Frost revealed that he had let go offensive coordinator Matt Lubick, offensive line coach Greg Austin, quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco and running backs coach Ryan Held effective immediately.
On Nov. 10 beloved sixth year senior linebacker JoJo Domann announced that he would be foregoing his final two games against Wisconsin and Iowa to have hand surgery and get ready for the NFL Draft.
It was a tough ending for one of Nebraska’s most passionate and liked football players.
After the Purdue loss, Domann had spoken about the state of the Husker program.
“I’m in pain right now,” said the senior outside linebacker. “I don’t really have the words to describe it other than that…I’m going to do my part in bringing everything I have to the table, and to building this, and representing this N, and representing the last
name on my back. That’s what I’m worried about…We play for Nebraska. I take pride in that, and I demand respect about that, and that’s how I play the game. I want to earn respect out there. The wins and losses are beyond me.”
Nebraska then traveled up to No. 15 Wisconsin on Nov. 20 and put up impressive offensive numbers against the nation’s top statistical defense, but came up short in the final minute again and lost 35-28. The Huskers have now lost eight-straight games to the Badgers, who won their seventh-straight game this season, and now sit in first place in the Big Ten West with one week left.
On the volleyball front, Nebraska lost to Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ohio State after starting 10-0 in conference play. Since then, the Huskers have won four in a row and are still in a tie for first in the Big Ten with two matches left. All-American Lexi Sun has made her way back into the starting lineup after being benched. The Huskers are hoping their 40th-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament will result in another national championship.
Women’s basketball has gotten off to a fast 5-0 start that has included three 100+ scoring performances. This feat has never been accomplished three times in the same season. The Huskers also ended a five-game losing streak to Creighton. Additionally, Jaz Shelley turned in just the fourth triple double in school history.
The Husker men lost the season opener to Western Illinois and also dropped the annual in-state game with Creighton for the 19th time in the last 23 years. Team leader Trey McGowens also broke his foot in that loss so wish Fred Hoiberg good luck trying to get his first winning season at Nebraska.