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Scott Frost Departs UCF for Nebraska; OC Troy Walters is New Interim Head Coach

Thanks for the memories, Coach.

AAC Championship - Memphis v Central Florida Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Scott Frost departs UCF for his alma mater Nebraska. The move is not unexpected: speculation ran rampant in the past week as a result of Frost’s unusually candid comments to the media, which seemed to show a man genuinely conflicted about whether to stay or go. As UCF Athletic Director Danny White announced during the press conference, “It appears the alma mater won the day.”

On the heels of an incredible double overtime conference championship win, Frost is gone. In the wake of the game, UCF announced his resignation while Nebraska announced his hiring. Offensive Coordinator Troy Walters now takes over as interim head coach.

The timing of his departure means that the Frost’s tenure ends on a strange note. It would initially appear that Frost would leave without having won a single bowl game as a head coach. And yet following the announcement, Danny White stated that it remained a possibility that Frost would coach the Knights in their New Year’s Six bowl game. That would be a remarkably unusual arrangement. If Frost coached that game, it would be the biggest game of his head coaching career. We've received conflicting information regarding Frost's availability for the bowl game so we'll just leave it at "up in the air" status for now.

There’s no question that Frost leaves the Knights far better than he found them. He led UCF to an undefeated regular season this year – an achievement matched by no previous UCF team and which necessarily makes this the best regular season in program history. It’s an especially significant achievement given that the Knights went winless two seasons ago in the last year of the George O’Leary era. And the Knights have now won their third conference championship in the AAC. The Knights remain the only school to have won the AAC more than once.

Frost changed the culture at UCF and built excitement around the program. Coming off a winless season, the 2016 spring game had the best attendance of any Group of Five spring game (and more than many Power Five spring games).

The culture change was reflected in recruiting. Frost’s first recruiting class seemed remarkably good given the limitations at the time. And given the results on the field from players like McKenzie Milton Adrian Killins, Jr., and Dredrick Snelson, it looks even more remarkable in retrospect. Frost’s second recruiting class was the best of any G5 class this past year, and UCF’s best regarded recruiting class in school history. It resulted in players who have been important to the team in their first year on campus, including Otis Anderson and Gabe Davis. But perhaps the most important recruit was JuCo transfer Mike Hughes who came and has played fantastically at corner, a position of great need (not to mention his game winning kick return last week).

The result is that Frost leaves behind a roster loaded with young talent. The team ought to be even better next year and should be expected to again compete for a conference championship.

Critically, Frost’s success demonstrates that UCF is not a flash in the pan program. The Knights will be playing in their second BCS/New Year’s Six bowl in less than five years, having done so under a different coach each time and with different philosophies on offense and defense. With a win in a NY6 game, the Knights would crown a new best season in school history.

Not bad for a hire about which I was “cautiously optimistic.”[1]

Was it a bittersweet day, with a coach leaving on the heels of a conference championship and undefeated regular season? I tend to agree with Danny White when he was asked the question directly – “No, we just won a conference championship and they’re still picking confetti out of my hair.” We at Underdog Dynasty appreciate Scott Frost’s hard work on behalf of the UCF program, and wish him well.

[1] Our colleague at Oregon’s SB Nation site Addicted to Quack was more right at the time than I was – he said UCF had a “home run hire” and Frost was a “star in the making.”