Scott Frost is out at Nebraska.
The Huskers lost 45-42 to Georgia Southern at Memorial Stadium on Saturday. Receivers coach Mickey Joseph will be the interim coach for the Huskers.
Frost, a former quarterback at Nebraska, was on the hot seat coming into the 2022 season. Nebraska lost to Northwestern 31-28 in the Week 0 opener in Dublin, Ireland before beating South Dakota 38-17 in Week 1. The firing comes before the renewal of the rivalry with Oklahoma in Week 3.
Nebraska opted to pay Frost the $15 million buyout instead of waiting until Oct. 1, when the buyout would have dropped to $7.5 million. Frost was hired in 2018 after leading UCF to a perfect 13-0 season. He finished 16-31 with the Huskers.
Who is next for Nebraska? A look at six candidates that make the most sense:
Lance Leipold, Kansas coach
Kansas is 2-0 in 2022 and just beat West Virginia. Think about that. The Jayhawks, a team Nebraska used to routinely scorch in the Big 12, is on more stable footing. That’s because Leipold, who won six Division III national titles at Wisconsin-Whitewater, knows how to instill a winning culture. He took on the rebuild at Buffalo in the MAC. Leipold is 58 years old, so Nebraska would be the last-stop job. With 150 career victories, he’s earned that chance.
Mark Stoops, Kentucky coach
Stoops’ stalk continues to rise at Kentucky, where he’s built a competitive program that has had five winning seasons in the last six years. That includes a pair of 10-win seasons. Stoops recruits well, and the Wildcats are developing more NFL talent with each cycle. Stoops did sign an extension with Kentucky that runs through 2028, and he has the Wildcats off to a hot start this season. Out of the candidates on this list, Stoops would be the best one. Stoops is 61-53 overall, but he’s 12-3 since the start of last season. Stoops’ stock might never be higher if he’s tempted to leave.
Dave Aranda, Baylor coach
If not Rhule, then Aranda would be interesting, too. He won a Big 12 championship in second season, and he was LSU’s defensive coordinator 2016-19. He also had a stint as Wisconsin’s defensive coordinator from 2013-15. Aranda’s inside-out philosophy has worked with the Bears, and he would be even better in the Big Ten. Aranda also signed an extension with Baylor that runs through 2029, so it would take maneuvering. He is the most-logical hire on this list.
Worth a look
Matt Rhule, Carolina Panthers coach
Rhule is on the hot seat of his own, and the truth is he belongs on a college sideline. He inherited a messy Temple program and flipped them from two wins to back-to-back 10-win seasons. Same deal at Baylor. The Bears went from one win in 2017 to 11 wins in 2019. Rhule’s overall record of 47-43 might not excite Nebraska fans, but look at where Baylor’s program is in comparison now. It’s not a total rebuild either, and Rhule could thrive again at the college level.
Bill O’Brien, Alabama offensive coordinator
The Alabama offensive coordinator should be able to pick his spot in the Power 5, and he was mentioned for a few vacancies last season. It has to be the right fit, and he was 15-9 in two seasons at Penn State while the program was under heavy NCAA sanctions. O’Brien has worked under Saban the last two seasons, and that typically leads to success at the next stop.
Matt Campbell, Iowa State coach
Campbell has been on these lists for the last two to three cycles, and this might be an affront to some Nebraska fans to look at Ames at the right coach. Ditch the pride factor. Campbell is another outstanding culture builder who has had five straight winning seasons with the Cyclones – something that was unheard of before he arrived. He also was a hot name for Ohio State when Urban Meyer retired and Michigan when Jim Harbaugh was on the hot seat. Nebraska is a larger stage for Campbell, if that’s the path he wants.
Troy Calhoun, Air Force
If Nebraska wants to go back to the triple option days, then why not take a shot at Calhoun, who has four 10-win seasons in the College Football Playoff era. Calhoun is 4-1 in bowl games in that same stretch. It would be a curveball in terms of scheme against the rest of the Big Ten, but if anybody could make it work again it’s Calhoun.
Charles Huff, Marshall coach
Huff is worth a look. Huff spent two years with Nick Saban at Alabama in 2018-19, and he’s been a hit at his first head coaching job at Marshall. The Thundering Herd finished 7-6 and reached a bowl game last year, and they are fresh off the upset at Notre Dame in Week 2. Huff will get a Power 5 job before too long, but this might be a touch early.
Luke Fickell, Cincinnati coach
Fickell didn’t go to Michigan State or Notre Dame, so why would he go to Nebraska after leading the Bearcats to the College Football Playoff last season? The Big Ten offers a larger stage, and Cincinnati found it takes just one loss to a Power 5 opponent to get knocked off that stage this season. Fickell, however, would be a hard sell to leave given his Ohio roots and the fact he didn’t entertain those other openings.
Urban Meyer, FOX analyst
Meyer is going to be mentioned in every opening now that he’s back in the college football studio and out of the NFL, which was an unmitigated disaster. In college, it’s different. Meyer was 187-32 with three national championships at the college level. He also is 58 years old and the setup would have to be perfect to pull him back in. Does Nebraska offer enough for an easy-make turn-around to tempt Meyer? It doesn’t quite line up – even if he would be a heck of a story.