Scott Frost says Unity Council return is likely, Huskers will stand by Maurice Washington

Scott Frost says Unity Council return is likely, Huskers will stand by Maurice Washington
"Unity Council was really valuable for a long time," Scott Frost said in an interview with The World-Herald. "When the time's right, we'll get that started." (World-Herald News Service)

LINCOLN — Some of Scott Frost’s assistants knew Nebraska football inside and out.

“And some of them had no idea what they were getting into,” Frost said Thursday.

But when NU’s new staff have gathered and reflected this spring about their wholesale move from Central Florida to Nebraska, they agree.

“Every single guy is thrilled to be here,” Frost said in an interview with The World-Herald, one of several media interviews he’s conducting this week. “The reception people have given our coaches, the warmth of the people, the facilities and the work environment, the resources we have to build the program the right way — we’re all glad we made the decision and looking forward to the process of building the program into a consistent winner.”

Ah, yes. The process. In various interviews, Frost offers a glimpse at his confidence at where Nebraska can go — “I don’t think there’s a scheme offensively that’s better than ours,” he said Thursday — but, prod him for an in-depth look at NU’s inner workings, and he defaults back to the standard on-the-record lines.

Player buy-in is high. Progress is being made. Every unit on Nebraska’s roster has “a long ways to go” on and off the field. Instead of identifying overarching strengths and weaknesses, Frost said the whole team needs development on and off the field.

Unlike spring camp, when he picked out a few, Frost identified no standout player leaders Thursday, saying the culture takes time to grow. Wins and losses aren’t his measurement right now or anytime soon. Set a new standard each day, then beat the standard. That’s the aim.

“When you’re following a process, wins take care of themselves,” Frost said. “Outside expectations don’t cross our minds at all.”

But Frost will eventually bring back a staple of the Husker glory days: The Unity Council, a player-led group within the team that helps manage problems and set the tone for the team.

“The Unity Council was really valuable for a long time,” Frost said. “When the time’s right, we’ll get that started. I don’t think it’s probably smart to elevate guys to the leadership Unity Council guys were given in the past until everybody understands our culture and what we’re expecting out of that.

“We might not have a Unity Council for a year. It might be sooner, it might be longer. When the time’s right and we have guys who are going to be culture-keepers around here, we’ll definitely get back to the tradition and making it an asset for a program.”

More notes from Frost’s conversations with the World-Herald and other media outlets:

» Nebraska’s sticking by running back signee Maurice Washington, who’s finishing up high school back in California after being expelled from Trinity Christian School in Texas.

“When a kid commits to us, we’re committed to them,” Frost said. “Maurice has been through some real trials in the last couple years. We’re going to try and walk step-by-step with him and try to get him through this. Hopefully he’ll land in a good place.

NU may not necessarily have to request an academic waiver for Washington, either.

“I don’t want to talk about waivers, I don’t want to guess on what the NCAA will do, I don’t want to guess on if we might file a waiver – we might not,” Frost said. “That’s assuming a lot, that we’d need to go to a waiver. Right now we’re trying to do what we can to get him eligible.”

» Frost doesn’t dish much about injuries unless a player is out for the season or taking a medical redshirt, so his injury updates on JoJo Domann, Michael Decker, Luke Gifford and Tre Bryant — all of whom missed spring football — weren’t in-depth.

“I can tell you I feel good about where everybody is,” Frost said. “There’s been a lot of progress. Trainer Mark (Mayer) has done a great job and we’re optimistic we’ll have all hands on deck this fall.”

Bryant has posted videos to social media that reflect he’s close to a comeback. He missed all but two games last season with knee pain and eventual knee surgery.

» Though “changes in the roster are inevitable,” Frost will generally not confirm players leaving the program. He’ll leave that for the players themselves.

“I don’t want to be presumptuous and say something about a kid,” Frost said. “I think it should be their opportunity to talk about their situation individually without us talking about it first.”

One player on the team, offensive lineman Bryan Brokop, has referred to himself as a “former” Nebraska football player on Twitter. NU has declined to confirm his departure because Brokop hasn’t announced it, if, indeed, a Twitter status reflects Brokop’s status with the program.

» Former Wahoo Neumann/UCF quarterback Noah Vedral, a walk-on for the spring, will be put on scholarship this summer. UCF had originally blocked Vedral’s scholarship release. NCAA rules would prohibit Vedral from playing this season unless Vedral is granted a waiver. Vedral becomes Nebraska’s fourth scholarship quarterback.

» Frost’s wife and son will move to Lincoln May 25. The family will live in south Lincoln.

“It’s hard for me to be away from my wife and my six-month-old,” Frost said. “I don’t think that is unique to coaching. Anybody who’s in a business that moves, it’s hard to uproot families. I’ll be glad to finally get that over with.”

Tom Osborne says now would be ‘great time’ for Frank Solich to return to Nebraska

It might finally be time for Frank Solich to return to Nebraska.

Solich, who replaced Tom Osborne as Nebraska’s coach and was fired in 2003, has been invited to attend the 2019 Outland Trophy Award Dinner in Omaha as the winner of the Tom Osborne Award.

Bob Mancuso, head of the Outland Trophy Dinner committee, invited Solich via phone last week and was waiting for a response. Solich said he wanted to think about it.

I spoke with Osborne on Thursday, and the former coach said he spoke with Solich recently and communicated his desire to have Solich come back to be honored. The Osborne Award, given out by the Football Writers Association of America, honors lifetime service to college football. Barry Switzer and Bobby Bowden were the last two recipients.

“I’d really like to see it happen,” Osborne said. “And he certainly didn’t say no. It could be a really good thing to do. I think it would be a great time to do it.”

Indeed, the idea of a Solich return has been promoted by new Nebraska coach Scott Frost, who has vigorously defended Solich’s tenure at NU. Frost has called for unifying the fan base, and embracing Solich would be a way to close a chapter of NU history that remains a sore subject to some.

An evening with Osborne, Frost and Solich would be quite an event. One of the biggest ever in Omaha.

Solich, 73, is still going strong. He’s entering his 14th year at Ohio, where he’s 97-71 and led the Bobcats of the Mid-America Conference to eight bowl games.

At Nebraska, Solich led the Huskers to six bowl games, though he was fired before the final bowl appearance in 2003. He’s the last coach of a Nebraska conference championship, the 1999 Big 12 title.

Osborne said having Frost as coach would help bring back Solich, who Osborne said was not bitter.

“I don’t think bitter is the right word,” Osborne said. “I think he was hurt by it. He played here, coached here as an assistant for 19 years. He was very loyal to Nebraska. He cared about this place. It hurt him. As time has gone on, he’s talked about Nebraska. He’s interested in how (Frost) is going to do next year.”

I’ll have more from my extended talk with Osborne about the Solich years and legacy, and perhaps a response from Solich, in my column in this Sunday’s World-Herald.

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