Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts finally pulled the plug on the Scott Frost era on Sunday after the latest in a steady stream of disappointing losses for the Huskers.
This one was an embarrassing 45-42 home defeat at the hands of Georgia Southern. The loss dropped Frost’s record to a miserable 16-31 at his alma mater, and Alberts opted to let Frost go now rather than wait for his buyout to drop from $15 million to $7.5 million on Oct. 1.
At the time of his hire, Frost was seen as a sure thing. He had just guided UCF to an undefeated season and was returning to his home state to revive a beloved and historic program mired in a stretch of mediocrity. Instead, things got worse under Frost’s watch.
Where does Nebraska go from here?
Despite the recent string of on-field results, there are plenty of things that make this an attractive job. The support from the fanbase is unrelenting and the school has plenty of financial resources. The Huskers have been active in the NIL space and the new Big Ten TV contract will only add to the appeal of making a move to Lincoln.
The fanbase is desperate for a winner and the task of identifying the coach to reinvigorate the program falls on Alberts’ shoulders.
Here are some coaches who could be a fit at Nebraska, listed in alphabetical order.
Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell
Campbell has built Iowa State into a consistent winner. The Cyclones had just one winning season in the 10 years prior to Campbell’s arrival but have notched a winning record in five of his six seasons in Ames. That included tying a program record with nine victories in 2020. An Ohio native, Campbell is steady, detail-oriented and has a reputation for player development. That’s something Nebraska has sorely lacked in recent years. It’s unclear if Campbell would jump at the opportunity to take the Nebraska job, but he’s certainly worth pursuing.
Coastal Carolina head coach Jamey Chadwell
Chadwell’s name has come up in numerous searches over the past few years, and for good reason. Coastal Carolina won a combined 22 games in 2020 and 2021 with Chadwell’s innovative offense on full display. Chadwell, who also won big at the Division II and FCS levels, has only coached in the South. His offense, which features option elements, could harken back to Nebraska’s past under Osborne. But does Nebraska need a unique style of offense to win in the Big Ten?
NC State head coach Dave Doeren
Another sitting head coach worth pursuing is Doeren, a Kansas native who has done a wonderful job at NC State. Now in his 10th season coaching the Wolfpack, Doeren has a 66-49 record as NC State’s head coach. Including his two years at Northern Illinois, he is 89-53 all-time as an FBS head coach. NC State has won at least eight games in four of the past five seasons and started the current season ranked No. 13 in the country. Could Doeren be lured away to the Big Ten for a rebuilding job, or is he content in Raleigh?
Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy
Here’s a wild card. Gundy has been the head coach at Oklahoma State since 2005 but he has flirted with other jobs in recent years, including Tennessee. The Cowboys were close to a College Football Playoff berth last year and have had a winning record in 16 consecutive seasons under Gundy’s watch. That includes seven seasons with at least 10 victories. But would Gundy want to try something new? He criticized Oklahoma and Texas for “taking the money” in their move from the Big 12 to the SEC, so maybe he wouldn’t follow the suit to take the Big Ten money. Still, it could be worth a shot for Alberts to make the call.
Herman couldn’t win at a high level at Texas but he still led the Longhorns to four consecutive winning seasons before he was fired. Herman had a 32-18 record in Austin on the heels of going 22-4 in two seasons as the head coach at Houston. Before he got the UH job, Herman got Big Ten experience as an assistant at Ohio State. He also spent three seasons as the offensive coordinator at Iowa State, so he has familiarity with the region. Herman spent the 2021 season with the Chicago Bears and is currently working as a TV analyst. Could Nebraska be the place he restarts his coaching career?
Nebraska interim coach Mickey Joseph
Joseph is taking over for the remainder of the season, meaning he has at least nine games to show how he’d run the program. It’s a program he knows well. Before embarking on a winding coaching career, Joseph was a quarterback for the Huskers under Tom Osborne. He got his break in coaching when he was added to LSU’s staff in 2017. He spent five seasons in Baton Rouge, including helping the Tigers win the national championship in 2019. If he can galvanize the program over these next few months, the support for Joseph will gradually increase. We’ve seen this with interim coaches before, including Ed Orgeron, Joseph’s former boss at LSU.
Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman
Another Midwesterner, Klieman has had a smooth transition to the Power Five level at Kansas State. The Wildcats have two eight-win seasons under his watch and this year’s KSU team could be the best of his tenure. Before arriving in Manhattan, Klieman was part of seven FCS national championship teams at North Dakota State, including four as head coach. Nebraska offers far more resources and a better conference, but he’s got a good thing going at Kansas State and a strong relationship with athletic director Gene Taylor.
Kansas head coach Lance Leipold
Leipold has won wherever he’s been. He amassed a ridiculous 109-6 record and won six Division III national titles at Wisconsin-Whitewater. He went 24-10 and won two division titles over his final three seasons at Buffalo. Now at Kansas, he has quickly turned the worst program in the Power Five into a much more competitive unit — as evidenced by Saturday’s road win over West Virginia and last year’s win over Texas in Austin. An added bonus is Leipold’s extensive experience in the state of Nebraska. He was an assistant at Nebraska-Omaha from 1994 to 2000 and then again from 2004 to 2006. He also served as the Huskers’ director of on-campus recruiting under Frank Solich from 2001 to 2003.
Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien
His work on the player personnel side with the Houston Texans didn’t go well, so it’s easy to forget that O’Brien won four AFC South titles during his time as an NFL head coach. And before his seven seasons in the NFL, O’Brien inherited a mess of a situation at Penn State and guided the Nittany Lions to consecutive winning seasons. He previously was a college assistant for more than a decade and also was an integral part of Bill Belichick’s staff with the New England Patriots. He would certainly be able to handle the scrutiny that comes with leading the Huskers. Now the offensive coordinator at Alabama, O’Brien is worthy of another shot at a head-coaching gig and Nebraska could be a nice fit though he doesn’t have any ties to the area.
Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule
If Rhule is looking for an exit route out of the NFL, Nebraska could be a good landing spot. He’s in just his third season with the Panthers, but things have not gone well. The Panthers went a combined 10-23 in his first two seasons before dropping their 2022 season opener on Sunday. But before his foray into the pros, Rhule transformed two college programs — Temple and Baylor. At Temple he won 20 games over his final two seasons, including an AAC title in 2016. He then inherited the mess left behind by Art Briles at Baylor. By Year 3, the Bears were playing in the Big 12 title game and the Sugar Bowl. This would be a home run hire for the Huskers, though the timing could be tricky to pull off.