LINCOLN — Please allow me to overanalyze recent quotes from new Nebraska football coach Scott Frost and his staff. The quotes offer a glimpse into the staff's philosophies and tone they want to set for the program.
The program's culture and style under Frost is going to be much different than it was under the previous coaching staff and athletic director.
That is the hope, anyway.
1. "I think we have good pieces on the team in Lincoln, and I think they probably had more talent on the team last year than what the record (4-8, 3-6 Big Ten) indicates, so we're excited to get to work with the guys who already are on the campus in Lincoln."
That was Frost's response to the very first question he fielded from media last week regarding Nebraska's 2018 recruiting class. When a reporter asked for the coach's impressions of the class, Frost first expressed confidence in players already on campus before elaborating on incoming players.
Talk about refreshing.
I go back to former Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst's comments two days before the Music City Bowl in late 2016. He said the key for Mike Riley's program going forward was talent acquisition. That was a prevailing media and fan narrative during most of Riley's tenure — that he inherited a deficient roster and needed ample time to improve overall talent level. To Riley's credit, he never pushed the narrative, but Eichorst did.
Common sense tells you it's dangerous for any program to allow a prominent part of its culture to be one that forever suggests the next batch of players will be the answer. The message Eichorst — who had far too heavy of a hand in Riley's program — sent to Nebraska players before the Music City Bowl essentially was, "You're not good enough, but we'll be much better in the future." I'm sure that inspired confidence throughout the roster.
On the other hand, Frost's immediate approach ("I think we already have good pieces on the team in Lincoln") is more in line with the thinking of a high-level competitor who's bound and determined to win now — or at least compete — as opposed to an excuse-laden culture that tends to place too much emphasis on the future while the program routinely gets its teeth kicked in on fall Saturdays.
2. "This signing day gets overhyped, and I'm never going to be the one that does the overhyping."
That was another of Frost's comments last week. He knows he's entering a market in which recruiting dominates the discussion throughout the offseason.
Some of the phenomenon — which began to take hold in the early 2000s with the advent of recruiting websites and star ratings — can be explained by the natural flow of things in our state. That is, there is an insatiable year-round thirst for Nebraska football news, a thirst that is more intense than it is in probably 90 percent of the nation's programs.
But in the offseason, access to current Husker players and coaches is severely limited. So, local media cling to recruiting as a way to maintain reader traffic. You see waves of updates on prospects. You see long and glowing stories about incoming recruits and sometimes even recruits who are merely considering becoming a Husker.
Bottom line, there are no limits to the amount of recruiting stories any publication can churn out. So we're going to keep churning them out for the next seven months. It's as predictable as Wisconsin beating Nebraska.
Frost likely will try to tamp down this part of the Nebraska fan/media culture — and I'm guessing he'll become turned off the way Bo Pelini did when the big wheel keeps spinning away.
Riley, bless his heart, embraced the culture with open arms. When it was time for the Friday Night Lights recruiting festival, he was in his element. He thrived. It's one of the main reasons local media is going to miss him greatly.
3. "You're not going to see our staff jumping around in the coaching staff room every time we get a NLI (national letter of intent). I just don't think that's honest."
That's reflective of what I mean by "tamp down."
Recruiting aside, Frost's overall approach is in many ways strong but understated, reflective of the state's culture.
4. "Our main job and our main goal on offense and defense is to really put stress on the opposing team. We feel like we can do that by playing fast — getting (foes) out of their comfort zone."
When new Nebraska offensive coordinator Troy Walters made that comment last week on "Sports Nightly," I flashed back to something Frost told me in March 2016 as he discussed the challenges of calling plays effectively in his no-huddle offense.
"I think sometimes people think I have a short attention span because in a long conversation, I've kind of already thought the whole thing out sometimes," Frost said. "I get distracted and get ahead too far. It's unique. When you get used to dealing with things that move as rapidly as we have to deal with on offense, sometimes a slow pace can irritate you a bit."
Frost will call the plays for Nebraska, as he did as UCF's head coach. He will expect players to be dialed-in daily — they'll have no choice if they want to play in his system.
5. "Trust me, I want to keep yards down as much as the next guy. But sometimes when you play more plays (per game), you play (the equivalent of) three or four extra games than everybody else in the country and yards aren't as manageable as you'd like them to be."
New defensive coordinator Erik Chinander recently sent out what sounded like words of caution. Will Nebraska fans fully understand that Frost's up-tempo offense sometimes puts stress on his own defense?
Fans obviously will be forgiving if wins pile up. It would also help if the Blackshirts minimize explosive plays and create turnovers — something Chinander's units at UCF have done quite well.
6. "One of the secrets of success at Nebraska for a long time was (coaching staff) continuity, and people who understood the system and the scheme and where they fit and what their role was."
Frost is bringing back defining elements (i.e., bolstering the walk-on program) of former Nebraska head coach Tom Osborne's national championship programs from the mid-1990s. But Frost is his own man. He'll do things his way, and his coaching record suggests he will produce a significantly tougher and better-prepared team than the one Husker fans watched in 2017.
That seems a safe bet.
It can't get much worse than 2017.