Northwestern vs. Nebraska, 10.2

Nebraska offensive lineman Cam Jurgens hugs athletic director Trev Alberts after the Huskers defeated Northwestern on Oct. 2 at Memorial Stadium.

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If you're a Nebraska football fan, you're unsure of what the program's future holds.

It's an unsettling time for a passionate and loyal fan base, although it should be used to tumult by now.

Many fans still wonder if Scott Frost can push the program to prominence, but also wonder if he'll be granted another season in his bid to make it happen. After all, he's only 15-26 in the late stages of his fourth season, and this season isn't exactly trending in a great direction.

I wish I had more definitive answers for you.

There is, however, one element of the discussion on which many, if not most, Nebraska fans seem to agree. 

They want the Frost tenure to work. 

There are several reasons why they should want it to work. But one obvious reason comes to mind.

It's that intriguing picture of Trev Alberts and Frost leading the charge.

Perhaps most important, you're talking about two men who want to be here. If they experience success together and work well together, they're unlikely to go looking for bigger jobs. Long-term stability is a universal desire.

Frost and Alberts have an intense emotional investment. They were both enormously successful players in the program who count Tom Osborne among their foremost mentors. They learned much of what they know from an iconic, Hall of Fame coach. They both enjoyed significant success away from their alma mater, then came back to revitalize a proud and tradition-rich program. 

Moving on from Frost would essentially be pouring dirt on what many fans consider a dream scenario. Is it time? 

Both sides of the aisle make compelling cases.

Again, Frost and Alberts are here because they want to be here, not just because someone tossed a pile of money at them. These days, you'll often hear people say that Alberts, hired in July as Nebraska's athletic director, should pay big money — perhaps whatever it takes — to lure a high-profile coach. Many folks seem OK with the revolving door to the Husker coaches' offices continuing to spin. Maybe, just maybe, it'll land on the coach with a magic touch. Matt Campbell? Bill O'Brien? Dave Aranda?

Or perhaps Nebraska should lean hard into the idea of seeing what Alberts and Frost can produce — specifically, of seeing how much Alberts can help Frost grow, especially in the CEO-type aspects of the job.

"I love working with Scott," Alberts said Oct. 26, 10 days after the discouraging loss at Minnesota. "We continue working together. I see great things for our program." 

Alberts has discussed Frost's program extensively — on the record. If you read Alberts' comments closely, you notice ample support for Frost. In fact, you get the feeling Alberts wants Frost's program to be successful, and not just because it would make Alberts' job easier. If you think that about Alberts, you don't know him very well. He's made it in this world through old-fashioned hard work. That's what he's about.

He raised his family in Nebraska because he chose to do so. Frost, 46, is doing the same. If he gets the program rolling, he'll likely stay a long, long time. Same goes for the 51-year-old Alberts. It says here the Alberts and Frost combination should be comforting to Husker fans — as long as the on-field picture improves markedly. Up until Oct. 9, when NU pushed then-No. 9 Michigan to the limit in an electric atmosphere at Memorial Stadium, it seemed most of the fan base felt optimistic about the program's trajectory. Many still feel good about it, although debate has intensified.

In the wake of the Michigan game, Alberts told ESPN, "I'm never going to be the person that says Scott's coaching for his job. We don't do that. I've never said, 'You must win this many games or you're fired,' and I told Scott that. We're on the same page. We're working together. I want to see growth. I'm seeing growth. I'm proud of it. I think Scott is a really good coach. I don't know what happened the last 3½ years. All I'm worried about is right now, and I'm really proud of how our coaches and assistant coaches have attacked this year. But it's hard to make a judgment on anything right now." 

Keep that last line in mind. Alberts left himself wiggle room. He's savvy. He's strategic. He's not going to get boxed in. 

That said, Alberts on Oct. 26 told a statewide radio audience, "I love working with Scott. We continue working together. I see great things for our program. I watch other institutions fire coaches two games in. I know it's a crazy la-la land in some of those respects, but I'm proud of what Coach Frost and our staff has done." 

That doesn't sound like an athletic director getting ready to fire a coach. We've seen that movie before. We've heard radio silence from ADs before.

Of course, Alberts' Oct. 26 comments occurred before Nebraska lost on its home field to Purdue. Keep that in mind. Now, Frost's crew stares down the barrel of a rugged November, starting with Saturday's home game against No. 5 Ohio State.

Alberts has made clear what he'll be analyzing down the stretch. He wants to see a team that fights hard and plays clean.

"You have to start with the fight," Alberts said in the Oct. 12 ESPN article. "We're not intimidated or scared, and we're taking incremental steps in those key areas like special teams and penalties and turnovers. You're always going to have mistakes. It's part of the game, but it can't define who you are." 

Yeah, we're reading tea leaves at this point. But if Frost is going to be retained, he needs to hear word on his future soon (next week) for recruiting purposes. In the meantime, NU fans feel a degree of stress as two genuine program legends work well together. In fact, we're seeing the antithesis of Frank Solich/Steve Pederson and Bo Pelini/Shawn Eichorst. Perhaps fans can find a measure of comfort in that regard — or at least feel intrigued.

This article originally ran on journalstar.com.

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