One of the great things about Underdog Dynasty is that I’ve got wide latitude here to choose what I write about.
Or not write about.
This year the UCF Knights have shredded opponents en route to a historic undefeated regular season. It’s been my pleasure to chronicle this. The Knights’ tremendous success has understandably made Scott Frost the hottest young coach around and led to much speculation about where he will be working next year.
I’ve declined to write about it.
There have been precious few hard facts to analyze. And if I hear “done deal” one more time, my eyeballs may roll so far back in my head that I will never find them again. Even worse, I’ve felt that the endless speculation and weighing why-he-will or why-he-won’t detract from an incredible season that could get even better with a conference championship and a New Year’s Six bowl win.
Frost’s statements today force my hand. We are now beyond the reading of the tea leaves stage, and in a place where there are fair and meaningful inferences to be drawn from Frost’s own statements.
Let’s start with the key statements from Frost. And you can credit UCF Knightline’s Trace Trylko for ripping off the bandaid in today’s AAC Conference Call. Trylko asked whether Frost would bat down the swirling rumors and confirm he’d be UCF’s head coach in 2018. Frost declined to answer the question and deflected the focus to this team and this week – “I’m just not gonna talk about it. All I wanna talk about is this football team.”
And then there was the press conference:
- “I’m a loyal guy. I’m loyal to my family . . . and my alma mater, but I’m more loyal with the people I’m going to battle with every day.”
- “Every year in college football there’s tough decisions to make. Those kinds of things happen. When the time’s right, we’ll make ‘em. I know it would be really hard to leave this team because of how much love I have for this group of guys and how much effort they’ve given us. All I’m going to do is go back to my office and watch more film . . . .”
- “I’d be hurt is Nebraska wasn’t interested in me. We’re undefeated and I’m from there. When you win, a lot of people are interested in you, that doesn’t matter. Like I said, what matters is these players and what they’ve accomplished. They deserve the focus to be on them.”
This is an obvious contrast to his statements responding to Oregon head coaching rumors last year:
- “I’m not a candidate for Oregon. I’m happy right here. This is where I want to be. I started something here. I feel like we’ve taken a lot of steps to getting this program to the top of this league. I want to see that through here. I’m really happy here and I have no intention of leaving here any time soon.”
- “You go out and you recruit kids to come play for you. You agree to try to do something for a program. When you give your word to kids and people like that, I think it’s your responsibility to see those things through. That doesn’t mean circumstances can’t ever change, but I’m committed to this place.”
- “A lot of coaches are in a hurry to take the next step. I think you get yourself in trouble when you take a step before you’re ready or before the time is right. I’m committed to making this place a really good football program and a football program that can win and win consistently in our league. I’m not even planning on looking for a job until we get to that point.”
It should be clear from the recent statements that at a minimum, Frost is considering going to Nebraska. In my view, this is unremarkable and should shock absolutely no one. Now, nothing here persuades me that he is certainly out the door. I understand that many Knights fans want or expect a firm denial of interest and believe something short of that is a sign that he’s gone. I do not believe his declining to give such a statement can be interpreted that far. Instead, I suggest that Frost is simply being candid – he’ll evaluate the choices after this week and make a decision then. And of course going to Nebraska is among the menu of options.
Regardless of the ultimate result, there’s no need for hand-wringing. Frost has overseen a rebuild of this team from winless (under the last year of George O’Leary) to an undefeated regular in a span of two years – something no other team has done. He has loaded the roster with young talent in McKenzie Milton, Adrian Killins, Jr., Gabe Davis, Otis Anderson, Dredrick Snelson, Jawon Hamilton, and more. I expect this team to be better next year regardless of who the head coach is.
And there’s especially no need for hand-wringing after a thrilling War on I-4 win and with a conference championship game to look forward to this Saturday. Interpret Frost’s statements as you will, but make sure you enjoy the ride for the remainder of the year. The season always feels too short, and this one has been especially magical.