LINCOLN — Scott Frost was back at Memorial Stadium.
Twenty years after leading Nebraska to its last football national title, the 42-year-old flew to Lincoln from Orlando on Saturday night. The following day, the Wood River native was being introduced as Nebraska’s next head football coach.
Before he got to the press conference, though, he made a slight detour through Nebraska’s weight room in the north end of Memorial Stadium.
As Frost walked in, about 150 former Husker players greeted him with cheers and applause.
Among them was Lakeview graduate Jeff Lake.
“I think we all just wanted to show our enthusiasm and support for Scott,” said Lake, who played with Frost at Nebraska from 1995-97.
A smile stretching from ear to ear came across Frost's face. He had a simple message to the group of former players.
"We've all been watching this for a long time, and I want to make it what it was, so I need all your help, all your ideas," Frost said. “Except when they’re bad.”
Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos sent an email to former letter winners Saturday night to set up the surprise welcome for Frost.
Lake, who lives in Omaha, decided to head to Lincoln to welcome his old friend home, but he didn’t expect the turnout.
“I think that was more than double what I expected,” he said. “It was surprising. There was a lot of different ages. Some there that played well before Scott and some that were at Nebraska after him. Even a few current players came in, as well.”
“It was good news for Nebraska alumns to see one of our own come back to coach the team.”
Lake, a split end for the Huskers, remained in contact with Frost after their playing days ended and is optimistic that scene in Nebraska’s weight room adds some much needed positivity to the program.
“I hope that sets the tone for the offseason and next year and what the tradition at Nebraska means,” said Lake, who is a partner at Summit Development, a real estate development company.
As for Frost as a coach, Lake said he’s always had the traits to do the job.
“He was always heady, a smart guy,” Lake said. “He understood the X's and O's and he was very competitive and driven in whatever he was doing.”
But not even he thought the success would be this extreme. After watching Central Florida play Memphis in Saturday's American Athletic Conference title game, it became clear to Lake what the biggest reason for Frost's success is.
“Seeing the relationships he forms with the players and watching UCF play on Saturday, it just all came together for him,” Lake said.
Now he’s eager to watch Frost get to work and hopefully elevate the program at Nebraska.
“I’m looking forward to seeing some of Scott’s traits instilled back into the program and the program getting back to the prominence that it used to be,” Lake said. “When I was there, winning was the expectation. A lot of guys shed a lot of blood, sweat and tears into that program, so it’s been frustrating as a fan and former letter winner that some of the wins haven’t quite been there.”
One of the biggest changes Lake expects is an added emphasis on physicality, perhaps Nebraska’s biggest advantage in the 1990s. He noted that teams like Alabama and Wisconsin use a similar type of physical play to win now.
“Teams weren’t used to getting hit the way we hit them. By the third and fourth quarters, they were running from us,” Lake said of the '90s Huskers.
“I think Scott will carry that into the program.”