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With No Due Respect
Ivan Maisel
December 29, 1997
If Scott Frost's unsung career is any guide, Nebraska will go undefeated and still not get a share of the national title
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December 29, 1997

With No Due Respect

If Scott Frost's unsung career is any guide, Nebraska will go undefeated and still not get a share of the national title

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FROSTY RECEPTION
Scott Frost could lead the Cornhuskers to this season's national championship and still not get the acclaim some of his predecessors at Lincoln received. Here are the top six quarterbacks, with their claims to fame.

CAREER PASSING: YARDS

TDS

CAREER RUSHING: YARDS

TDS

Tommie Frazier (1992-95)
A pair of national titles makes him the best ever

3,521

43

1,955

36

Scott Frost (1996-97)
Tommie has left the building, but his ghost hasn't

2,677

18

1,534

28

Turner Gill (1980-83)
Won 28 of his 30 starts but never prevailed in a national title game

3,317

34

1,317

18

David Humm (1972-74)
Teamed with Johnny Rodgers in deadly 72 combo; first team All-America in '74

5,035

41

-15

11

Jerry Tagge (1969-71)
Scored winning touchdown in the Orange Bowl to seal 1970 national crown

4,704

32

616

18

Steve Taylor (1985-88)
Option maestro is Huskers quarterback rushing leader

2,815

30

2,125

32

REGULAR-SEASON STATS ONLY

Scott Frost's college career can be defined by two plays this season: one that happened and one that didn't.

On Nov. 8 Frost, Nebraska's quarterback, threw a touchdown pass that would become many fans' play of the year. As time ran out at Missouri, freshman Matt Davison made a diving catch of a deflected throw by Frost in the Tigers' end zone, allowing the Cornhuskers to tie the game and send it into overtime. Nebraska went on to win 45-38. Davison's reception capped a 67-yard, 62-second, no-timeouts drive that Frost executed with devastating efficiency. The comeback victory helped assure the Huskers of a Jan. 2 date in the Orange Bowl against No. 3 Tennessee. If No. 2 Nebraska wins that game and No. 1 Michigan loses to Washington State in the Rose Bowl, Nebraska will be the national champion for the third time in four years.

"That drive is the biggest accomplishment of my career," Frost says. Because Missouri nearly beat the Huskers, however, "it's also the game in which we lost the Number 1 ranking," he adds. "The defining moment of my career shouldn't be the same moment that the thing we worked for hardest is taken away."

Then there was the play that didn't happen. By gaining 280 yards in total offense (201 passing and 79 rushing) as the Huskers rolled toward a 54-15 victory over Texas A&M in the Big 12 championship game on Dec. 6, Frost finished this season with 2,332 yards—exactly one yard short of the school record set by Jerry Tagge in 1971. One more play could have given Frost the mark. However, he sat for most of the fourth quarter of the blowout. "It's amazing that nobody knew I was that close," he says.

If Frost's career is ever made into a movie, it might resemble Forrest Gump as directed by Tim Burton. Unlike Gump, Frost is not dim-witted—he's an Academic All-America, and he graduated last Saturday with a degree in finance and a 3.45 GPA—but, like Gump, he has the uncanny knack of being at the center of important events. Things happen to him, not all of them cause for celebration. His life has been like a box of dark chocolates.

When Bill Walsh, during his second tour as Stanford's coach, from 1992 to '94, was investigated by the NCAA for possible recruiting violations, one of the recruits in question was Frost. When Cornhuskers I-back Lawrence Phillips broke into an apartment in the middle of the night two years ago and assaulted his former girlfriend, she was staying with Frost in his apartment. When Nebraska fans booed a Husker this season for the first time in just about anyone's memory, they booed Frost. "I expected everything to be easy," Frost says of quarterbacking Nebraska, "it's just been one challenge after another."

Even when the 6'3", 220-pound Frost performed well, things sometimes went awry. This fall, for example, he became the 10th player in Division I-A history to exceed 1,000 yards both passing and rushing in one season. He threw for 1,237 yards and five touchdowns, and he rushed for 1,095 yards (second among quarterbacks to Chris McCoy of Navy) and 19 touchdowns. He led the Huskers to a 12-0 record and the No. 2 ranking. Yet the Big 12 coaches voted him third team all-conference, behind Corby Jones of Missouri and Michael Bishop of Kansas State. "Another slap in his face," says Huskers senior guard-center Matt Hoskinson, one of Frost's closest friends. The vote even got a rise out of Nebraska coach Tom Osborne, who said Frost should be mentioned in the same breath as Cornhuskers greats Tommie Frazier, Turner Gill and Tagge.

Frost has a special feeling for Osborne, which is odd given that as a high school senior in Wood River, Neb., Frost spurned Osborne's offer of a scholarship and chose to play at Stanford. Frost lasted two years in California before he came home; he left the Cardinal because he wasn't happy with what was happening to his football career. Unlike Osborne, Frost allows his emotions to flow to the surface. After delivering the last speech at Osborne's retirement news conference on Dec. 10, he turned and threw a bear hug around his coach.

Frost and Osborne have butted heads on other occasions, as when Osborne learned last March that Frost had been patronizing one of the casinos in Council Bluffs, Iowa, an hour from campus, into the wee hours. Osborne phoned Frost at 8 a.m. to tell him not to go again. As Osborne well knew, Frost isn't an early riser. According to senior guard Aaron Taylor, Frost's idea of a predawn pheasant and quail hunt is one that begins at 10 a.m. "I'm glad Coach put the casino off-limits," Frost says. "You realize that it was not a smart thing to be doing."

Osborne eventually barred the rest of the team from the casinos, but not before senior tight end Tim Carpenter won $89,000 last spring by drawing a royal flush in a poker game.

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