For recently-hired Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos, the coaching carousel never stops spinning.
Moos, who arrived in Lincoln after serving in the AD role at his alma mater, Washington State, since 2010, will have to make a decision on Huskers coach Mike Riley in the coming weeks. Riley is in his third season with the school and has just a 19-15 record, including a 4-4 mark this year.
If Moos does move on from Riley, he’ll likely do it after the season. If that happens, UCF coach Scott Frost is expected to be a favorite to land the job. On 1620 The Zone in Omaha, Moos was asked specifically about Frost, who has the Knights off to a 7-0 start in his second season running that program. Frost played quarterback at Nebraska and would be a popular choice among Huskers fans, many of whom seem ready to move on from Riley.
However, Florida has already cut ties with head coach Jim McElwain and is expected to make a heavy push for Frost’s services. With both programs like to make a move for Frost, is Nebraska at a disadvantage since Florida’s head-coaching position is already open?
No, Moos says.
“I’m doing coaching searches year-round,” Moos said.
Moos infamously visited Mike Leach in Key West, Florida, before hiring him at Washington State to replace Paul Wulff. Wulff was fired by Moos after finishing out the 2010 regular season, his first with Moos as his AD. See a pattern?
“I always want to be ready in case a coach leaves or if I feel there needs to be a change made,” Moos said. “I stay on top of that all the time and certainly, with the connections and the network I have, if something had to happen, it could happen fairly quickly.”
When it comes to Frost, Moos is very familiar. And very impressed.
“Scott has a great resume. He has both coached and played the game on both offense and defense. He has learned from some of the great football minds in the business throughout the years at the college level and in the professional ranks. I do know he did a fabulous job at Oregon especially as the offensive coordinator with developing a Heisman Trophy winner (Marcus Mariota) there and a team that played for the national championship,” Moos said.
“He’s got the full package, but the only thing he was missing back then, in my opinion, was actually being a head college coach and all the other responsibilities and obligations that come with that. He has handled that superbly from afar as I look at it.
“Of course he does have the roots here, raised in the state of Nebraska and playing for the icon that Tom Osborne is. A lot of things very positive. Scott is going to coach in a Power Five (conference) and probably sooner than later. He’s paid his dues and I’ve been quite impressed with that having never met him but just watching his work from afar.”
Moos said he still needs to sit down with Riley and have an in-depth discussion about the state of the football program before any decision is made. It’s presumed by most observers that Moos will make a change, but he said Tuesday he doesn’t like to dismiss coaches during the season.
“Any time you make a coaching change, the transition will bring anxieties and some elements of concern to the existing players,” Moos said. “I don’t ever like to dismiss a coach during the season unless there’s a behavioral problem because your team is going to lose its focus. We’ve got to get this season finished on a good note.”
Riley and the Huskers, on the heels of a come-from-behind road win over Purdue to get back to the .500 mark at 4-4, host Northwestern on Saturday.
Moos will be watching.
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