This is the end of (another) error.
Scott Frost’s coaching chapter in Nebraska officially ends Friday at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. How will he be remembered?
I wouldn’t consider it a total disaster. Not a total bust.
There was a blessing that came out of the whole mess.
Nebraska was reintroduced in Mickey Joseph.
Joseph’s second act at Lincoln was memorable. He was a treasure. A hidden gem.
Joseph came to NU in 1988 as a national award winner, the Gatorade Player of the Year. He ended up starting nine games at quarterback during his four-year career. A bizarre leg injury limited his senior year.
If I remember that 1991 season correctly, my first year in Nebraska, Joseph was a popular player among the fans and the media. He was replaced by Keithen McCant in the opener and rarely played.
I didn’t know MJ until last spring, when he arrived on the scene as a key employee to rescue Scott Frost.
Joseph returned as a celebrity assistant, a home run hire after his successful run at LSU. A recruitment whiz. Mentor of young men. Difficult love motivator. Difference maker.
As I spent a lot of time with him in the spring and saw him with players, I could see why he was an excellent recruiter. There is a real quality to Joseph. He is related to everyone.
Although Joseph is not a dynamic personality, he has an understated confidence and aura. He puts you at ease. People want to be around him.
In that way he reminds me of Barry Switzer.
Joseph came here as something of a savior for Frost, whether it was recruiting transfers to NU or giving off a leadership vibe. And fans hoped his penchant for player empowerment rubbed off on the whole squad.
We never heard from Mickey, as the assistants weren’t allowed to speak. Until the assistant became the interim head coach.
Then, Joseph passed in front of the microphone twice a week. And I think a lot of Husker fans fell in love.
They liked his swagger as he got off the bus first at Purdue in a black suit, black shirt and red tie. They were proponents of his unapologetic posts and taking responsibility every week.
And they saw him as the underdog, and everybody loves an underdog. Especially when he was playing for scarlet and cream.
But after a Game 1 debacle against Oklahoma, NU played tough and appeared more focused under Joseph. The defense played better. After four years of playing tag, they attacked each other, for god’s sake.
Add wins over Indiana and Rutgers and you had a debate between who wanted an established head coach and who wanted Team Mickey.
Five consecutive defeats have looked out of the campaign. So have game management choices, quarterback selection, etc.
Joseph is not expected to get the job, but that doesn’t take away from his impact on the team and the program in 2022.
He was the right person at the right time for NU.
This season could have gotten ugly, could have ripped to the seams. This was not the case.
Joseph caught the team’s attention. They played for their coach. Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to work. And maybe Joseph got credit because he acted more like a head coach than Frost ever did.
The Joseph Factor was, even with an understaffed team, they were still in competition and there were games where you thought, well, maybe…
In his own way, Joseph not only gave Nebraska football a hug, but he reminded some people what they loved about Husker football.
It was never going to work. As a job candidate, Joseph was the interim coach of a team with too many flaws to count. It was set up to fail against that schedule.
And I always insist that Joseph would have had a better chance of succeeding if he hadn’t been the interim coach. And instead, he was a top assistant coach with a reputation as a talent scout and a national title ring.
You cannot require a new head coach to retain certain assistant coaches. Every head coach has his guys, the ones he trusts to do what he wants.
Especially when an assistant coach is already popular with fans and players.
But I think keeping Joseph on the next staff would be the right thing to do, the smart game.
He’s a savvy guy who attracts rookies, including those of the transfer variety, and then connects. There is a bridge to the locker room. And a bridge to the community, the fans, the high school coaches.
If he looks like a candidate for head training, I say not quite yet. Joseph would need a little seasoning, a few lessons on how to run a large program.
Joseph as a competent and efficient assistant who could learn and possibly take over the program one day? Absolutely.
The one thing the 2022 season has taught us is that Joseph is a good guy to have around the program.
I won’t remember much from this season. There were no memorable games, unless there was a Friday.
I will remember thoughtful conversations with Casey Thompson, the pride and struggle of Garrett Nelson and Travis Vokolek. And the spirit of this upgraded group that became a better team after losing their coach.
It happened because of Joseph. He came back and made the difference. He will have his choice of landing points. I hope it hangs around.
Tom’s Picks: Iowa 21, Nebraska 10.
Nebraska football 2023 commits
Dwight Bootle, BC, Miami, Florida
Benjamin Brahmer, WR, Pierce, Nebraska
Jaidyn Doss, WR, Individual, Missouri
Brock Knutson, OL, Scottsbluff, Nebraska
Hayden Moore, LB, Aurora, Colorado
Dylan Rogers, EDGE, Cypress, TX
Riley Van Poppel, OL, Argyle, TX
Malachi Coleman, WR, Lincoln (East)
Arnold Barnes, RB, New Orleans, Louisiana
Malachi Coleman, WR, Lincoln (East)
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. blessing hidden middle failure Frost Nebraska east return Mickey Joseph