In the category of College Football Coaches Quotes for $500, here is your Jeopardy! clue:
“You know, everybody’s in the boat, everybody’s working. This thing is going to get right. It’s just not happening as quick as they want it to and certainly not as quick as I want it to.”
“Who is P.J. Fleck?”
Wrong. (Hint: look 430 miles to the southwest.)
“Who is Scott Frost?”
Ding, ding, ding.
Frost, Nebraska’s first-year coach and former national championship-winning Cornhuskers quarterback, knew that the rebuilding job in Lincoln would take time. But the process has been especially painful for the Big Red faithful, with the 0-4 Huskers being the only winless team in the Big Ten.
Frost did not hide his frustration following Saturday’s 42-28 home loss to Purdue in the conference opener.
“We looked like one of the most undisciplined teams in the country, and it kills me because it isn’t like we’re not giving them messages. It isn’t like we’re not trying to hold them accountable,” he said.
Particularly irking to Frost were the 11 penalties for 136 yards. He also had an issue with some of his players’ conduct.
“We can’t get holding calls on interceptions and then talk trash to their sideline and start dancing on the field,” he fumed. “When we’re down 13 points and we’ve got backups and reserves dancing on our sideline before kickoffs, they look like they love losing.”
Frost inherited a team that went 4-8 under former coach Mike Riley, and while Frost said he has “a bunch of guys who are warriors, a bunch of guys who didn’t stop fighting,” he knows that not everyone has bought in to his culture. And Tuesday, backup wide receiver Tyjon Lindsey, a former top-50 national recruit brought in by Riley, decided to transfer.
Bad habits, Frost knows, don’t change overnight.
“When you’re building a new house, you can’t build it on a bad foundation or you won’t have a house very long,” he said. “We had some rot and some termites, and we still do, and we have to get all of that cleaned out.”
Fleck, in his second year with the Gophers, can empathize. Like Frost, he took a Group of Five team to new heights, going 13-1 at Western Michigan in 2016 before taking the Minnesota job. Frost went 13-0 at Central Florida last year before returning to his alma mater.
“If people think just take a pill or hire a coach and you immediately win,” Fleck said, “you need to look around the country right now.”
The rebuilding doesn’t get any easier this week for Frost, whose team travels to No. 16 Wisconsin. And trips to No. 3 Ohio State and Iowa still await. There may be tough times ahead, but Frost doesn’t believe they’ll last.
“You go through hard times in life in a lot of different ways,” he said. “All that does is make it sweeter when it turns out the right way.
‘‘It happened to me as a player and it’ll happen to me as a coach.”
Randy Johnson covers college football for the Star Tribune. Twitter: @RJStrib. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org