It was supposed to be the fairytale hire; college football's de facto “Field of Dreams.”
Scott Frost, former University of Nebraska All-America player, pushing through veritable corn stalks to return to Lincoln, Nebraska, and lead the program back to its Tom Osborne-era glory, of which Frost was a major component.
And Frost arrived at his alma mater after an undefeated season at Central Florida and a claimed national championship from his old boss, then-UCF athletics director Danny White.
Except fairytales aren't rooted in reality, and Frost's return home has been mostly a nightmare. Nebraska is 12-20 in three seasons under Frost, with just a 9-17 mark in Big Ten Conference play. The Cornhuskers on Wednesday lost a reserve offensive lineman to the NCAA Transfer Portal, just 10 days before their season-opening game.
Perhaps most damning? Reports Wednesday that alleged Nebraska's football program, under Frost's direction, brazenly violated health and safety protocols in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic to host practices and training sessions, utilized support staff in improper capacities and was being probed by the NCAA.
After the Huskers wrapped their midweek practice, both Frost and new Nebraska athletics director Trev Alberts, also a former star football player, addressed media and confirmed the governing body's probe into Cornhuskers football.
“We just wanted to acknowledge that there is an NCAA investigation that is currently engaged with our athletic department and football program, specifically,” Alberts said. “We have complied 100% with the NCAA and been very collaborative with them. We will continue to do whatever the NCAA asks us to do.”
Neither Alberts nor Frost addressed specifics of the NCAA probe but they did not specifically refute any of the details in reports, first published by the Action Network, that indicated the NCAA had started an examination into the program's alleged violation of health and safety measures.
“This is an ongoing investigation. While we would love to provide additional context and details, we simply can't do that at this time,” Alberts said. “But I wanted to come here with Scott and acknowledge the investigation. We saw reports that there was an active investigation. We will continue to comply, as we have done.
“We have been very transparent with the NCAA, as have our coaches. We just can't speak about the specifics about the investigation. We really do look forward to a later date where we can add some context and additional details.”
Added Frost, when pressed on the probe's timeline, “I can't comment on details.”
However, Alberts revealed that the NCAA investigation began before he was named Nebraska's A.D. in mid-July.
Moreover, Alberts shared that he was not informed about the probe before he accepted the top administrative position at his alma mater after he had served in the same capacity at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Frost, however, did shoot down one component of the Action Network report: that he had actively worked to move the upcoming Cornhuskers Sept. 18 game against rival Oklahoma and briefly defended his and his staff's handling of COVID-19 protocols and standards.
“I've never made one single phone call in regards to our schedule,” said Frost, immediately after practice and flanked by Alberts in a less-than-six-minute press conference. “That's not my job.
“Everything we did thru Covid, I've addressed both those things a lot. Everything we did thru Covid was with the best interest and health of our players in mind. Everything we did was approved by our athletic department administration and campus administration.”
Frost again professed his love of the Cornhuskers-Sooners series and said he only had been concerned about the way the Nebraska schedule had initially been thrown off track when its scheduled opener in Ireland against Illinois was postponed.
The two Big Ten rivals now will kick off the 2021 season Aug. 21 at Illinois.
“I love that rivalry,” Frost said Wednesday of the OU-Nebraska border battle. “Once our Ireland game got cancelled, our schedule didn't make sense [to have an immediate open date]. I love where we landed, instead of having a Week 1 bye we have a week 1 game (against Fordham at home).”
Frost dismissed any lingering effects this investigation could have on his team.
“Our players have been nothin but focused on Illinois,” he said. “We're laser-focued on IIlinois.