Before Scott Frost came back to Lincoln to take over as head coach of his alma mater, he became accustom to racking up wins for UCF in a lower-priority conference. Somewhere lost in the shuffle of going undefeated, seeing the rest of the season out after announcing his departure to Nebraska and throwing up a self-proclaimed national championship banner was a culture of a win-first mentality yet to be fully exposed.
It wasn’t obvious by the way Frost’s words first came across, but over the past two years of his tenure leading the Huskers football program one thing is clear: winning in Lincoln is more important than common sense and decency.
“I’ll tell you this right now — if there’s anything negative about women, if there’s anything racial or about sexuality, if there’s anything about guns or anything like that, we’re just not going to recruit you, period,” Frost said in July 2018. “Piece of advice for you — what you put on social media, that’s your resume to the world. That’s what you’re trying to tell the world you’re all about. That’s how you’re advertising yourself. Be smart with that stuff.”
Sounds like a good code of ethics to hold you players accountable, right? Well, as it turned out actions speak louder than words.
After a miserable first half against South Alabama last week, Frost went back on his creed and ended the suspension of Huskers running back Maurice Washington. He is currently facing felony child pornography charges for “possessing a video or photograph of a person under 18 who is engaging in or simulating sexual conduct and a misdemeanor count of distributing that video without consent, leading to the person suffering emotional distress.” The court case has been pushed back until October.
Frost allowed Washington to play despite clear evidence pointing to misconduct in the matter, placing an emphasis on winning over doing what is ethically right. Washington’s status against Colorado was described as a “game-time decision” when Frost was asked by reporters earlier this week. He ended the game last week with three carries for 29 yards on the way to Nebraska’s 35-21 win.
As it turns out, Frost isn’t facing proper scrutiny, but rather settling into his role as Nebraska’s appointed leader by holding the position in the same regard as his predecessors. Tom Osborne, who to this day is known as one of college football’s greatest, fostered a program built on decades of questionable character issues.
Frost knows all too well when it comes to Lawrence Phillips, the running back who in 1994 was charged in an assault case, was allowed back on the 1995 national championship team, assaulted another student (with Frost present) and still stayed on the team after a brief suspension. Just as Tom Osborne defended his star running back, Frost has made his decision about Washington for the sake of winning.
Frost isn’t doing himself any favors by keeping Washington on the active roster while he goes through court proceedings. That plays into the notion of rules are allowed to be altered for certain individuals who best suits high-quality results on the field. In reality, the example of Phillips’ fate should serve as an example that being a leader should always come before holding down the status of a multi-million dollar figurehead.
There’s no room for negotiation — Frost and Nebraska can do better. And that effort starts by the university taking an active interest in improving the well-being of their student-athletes and others.