Scott Frost knew the questions were coming. Although it is conference championship week, what occurred over the weekend, with reports of how Frost turned down the Florida Gators and that he may or may not have been told to "come home" by Nebraska legend Tom Osborne, made the big game only the second story of the day. The first was the rumors regarding Frost's coaching future: Is he headed to Nebraska or will he stay at UCF? Those are his options now.
I thought he would just ignore all such questions during his usual Monday afternoon press conference. He certainly did so when asked about it during his Monday morning teleconference.
On @American_FB teleconference, Frost is asked if he'll be #UCF coach in '18: "I'm just not gonna talk about it. All I wanna talk about is this football team."— Joey Knight (@TBTimes_Bulls) November 27, 2017
Yep, that's what you would expect from him. Say absolutely nothing that isn't about your team. Go full Belichick. We're on to Memphis.
Then his press conference began. After about eight minutes of reflecting upon the USF victory and looking forward to Memphis, someone finally pointed at the red and white elephant in the room and said, "Hey, let's talk about that!" Despina Barton of Spectrum Sports asked Frost for his thoughts about all of the recent speculation regarding his future Here's that answer:
"All I'm going to do is go back to my office and watch more film"— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) November 27, 2017
- Coach ❄️#ChargeOn pic.twitter.com/MZUFTE8gSl
For the first 25 seconds, Frost held that line of keeping the focus on his team.
And then for the next 20 seconds or so, you get a completely different person. It's a man who is conflicted. He's basically acknowledging here that, yes, his life is a Clash song. There are pros and cons to each side: If he stays at UCF, Frost remains with a good thing. Specifically, a talented and very young team that could dominate the AAC for some time. It's a team with impactful players who are here solely because of him. He also remains with a university that has thrown its full weight behind him, and Frost also wouldn't have to uproot his wife and newborn son to a new city even if it is one with which he is obviously very familiar.
However, Nebraska not only offers Frost more money and a second homecoming but also a greater chance of competing for a national title. If he turns that team around in a couple of years into an undefeated program, you can bet the Cornhuskers aren't sitting at No. 15 in the College Football Playoff Rankings by Week 12.
It can't be an easy call.
The next question hit on the Nebraska job more directly. Jamie Seh of WKMG asked Frost what he thought about Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos saying explicitly Saturday that he is interested in hiring Frost to be the team's next head coach.
"I'd be hurt if Nebraska wasn't interested in me. We're undefeated, I'm from there. When you win, a lot of people are interested in you, that doesn't matter. Like I said, what matters is these players and what they've accomplished. They deserve the focus to be on them, not me."
That first sentence definitely perked some ears. Yes, most of Frost's answer downplayed said interest as he turned the attention back toward his players. Yet, I'd love to know how Knights fans feel about that opening line. And again, it's an answer I definitely didn't expect. What happened to the "I'm just not gonna talk about it" guy from the teleconference? I truly appreciate his honesty, but saying that you want to be wanted by the university that really wants you to be its next head coach isn't a great way of calming the waters.
The most pointed moment of the 19 minutes we spent with Frost came when he was asked by UCFSports' Brandon Helwig if he had seen that a Nebraska news station reportedly had a camera crew staked out at his parents' house. Here is Frost's entire answer:
"I didn't know that. But that makes me mad."
Wait, those words don't really do his response justice. Fast-forward to the 0:38 mark here and just look at that face. Listen to that tone in his voice:
Frost: "I'm loyal to my Alma Mater, but I'm more loyal to the people I'm going to battle with every day."— Tyler Graddy (@TylerGraddy) November 27, 2017
On report of #Nebraska media at his parents' house: "I didn't know that, but it makes me mad." pic.twitter.com/bhfCn02Xih
Welcome to life in a community where college football is Life. Frost definitely understands how die-hard Nebraska fans are. His successes as a Cornhusker played a part in cultivating that fanatical love. But when an unexpected interview with your parents is the top story on the evening news in Omaha, that's got to seem surreal.
Well, here’s the lead story on the Omaha news tonight. This is gonna be a long week, isn’t it? pic.twitter.com/zIVIieXk1b— Mitch Sherman (@mitchsherman) November 27, 2017
Finally, Frost was at his most revealing following a question that wasn't in any way about the coaching rumors. The Orlando Sentinel's Shannon Green asked Frost what he has learned about himself and the college coaching profession during his time in Orlando. His response is, once again, surprisingly candid.
ICYMI: @UCF_Football Scott Frost reflects on what he's learned about himself while the Head Coach these last two years for the Knights--> (It's also where I felt he was saying his good byes at this afternoons press conference) pic.twitter.com/FRrLJhSVOY— Despina (@DespinaBarton) November 28, 2017
Just listen to how much of what Frost says there is in past tense. It's the kind of soundbite you get from a president who is on his way out of office and talking about all that he accomplished while on the job. It's a bit of a victory speech even though there are still two games left in UCF's season. It does indeed sound like a goodbye.
Frost isn't gone yet; there is still that goal the team set out to achieve back during spring ball: Win a conference championship. Whether or not the Knights bring it home Saturday, it feels like Frost will be headed home shortly thereafter. College football's early-signing period runs from Dec. 20-22. That means if you are looking for a head coach, it would be mighty beneficial to have him installed prior to that date. If Nebraska wants to have that done with Frost -- and of course it does -- that would mean he won't coach the Knights in their bowl game, New Year's Six or otherwise.
After Saturday's showdown versus Memphis, win or lose, someone will ask Frost if he just coached his final game with UCF. He might say he doesn't want to talk about it. Or, as he often did Monday, he might offer something more illuminating. Hey, he could even give a straight "yes" or "no" answer. But just judging from what we heard on this day, a "yes," even if it isn't spoken, feels like a formality at this point.