|Posted on December 2, 2017 at 7:00 PM|
Article by Dan Tortora
George O'Leary leaves the team during the season while they were winless.
The UCF Knights end the 2015 regular season at 0-12.
A coaching search was on for a fan base that had nothing to lose.
The name Scott Frost came up.
An offensive coordinator who served under Chip Kelly within the Oregon Ducks' football program had a choice to make that came down to the Syracuse Orange, Maryland Terrapins, and UCF Knights.
Believing that he could implement his plan on fertile ground in central Florida, Frost took the Knights up on their offer.
In his first season, he took a winless team and them to bowl eligibility at 6-6.
For his follow-up campaign, Frost aided UCF to an undefeated regular season at 11-0. Going from a winless regular season to an undefeated season within two years time was a feat that no Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team had even accomplished in the history of college football.
Frost not only turned a program around, he took them from the absolute bottom of the barrel and pushed them to the top against all opponents, and not just merely fighting the foes each week but also literally and figuratively weathering a storm, Hurricane Irma, that shortened their regular season to 11 games and forced them to play 11 straight weeks without a break, 12 including the American Athletic Conference (AAC) Championship.
That championship was the first that UCF had ever advanced to in the AAC in three tries.
The final two weeks for Frost and the Knights have featured the two biggest threats to their undefeated season in the USF Bulls and head coach Charlie Strong in the "War on I-4" and the second bout with the Memphis Tigers and head coach Mike Norvell. UCF never laid down, standing above both foes at the games' conclusions, first 49-42 over USF and 62-55 in double-overtime against Memphis.
UCF's double-overtime victory versus Memphis added the school's first AAC Championship trophy to Frost's two-year campaign with the team.
From 0-12 to 12-0 and a conference championship.
Moves like that get you noticed, especially by the school you used to play for as a student-athlete, the University of Nebraska.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers had reached their limit with head coach Mike Riley, who finished 4-8 in his third season at the helm of the program.
It was the perfect storm for the coach who responded perfectly to a storm this season.
Nebraska needs a coach to get them out of the Big Ten Conference basement, Frost went to Nebraska, and he is one of the hottest coaches in the country.
Less than an hour after the postgame press conference that followed the AAC Championship trophy presentation to the Knights, UCF Athletic Director Danny White called us back to the press conference room for the announcement of Frost heading back to the place where he once resided.
"Scott has chosen to go back to his alma mater, a very difficult decision for him, obviously as you saw some of the emotion here at the press conference following the game," said White, referring to the red face and tears glistening in the eyes of Frost throughout the press conference that followed the team's first AAC Championship game victory.
"I've been talking with Scott throughout the season and he's been conflicted and the reason that he's been conflicted is 'cause he sees how special of a place this is," White shared. "This is a unique opportunity that we have here to build a perennial Top-25 athletic department, a perennial Top-25 football program."
"That's the charge and the charge hasn't changed," White continued. "We're still the fastest growing university in the fastest growing city in America with the best recruiting base. This place has more potential than I think any athletic department in the country."
Appreciating the work of Frost in just two seasons with the team, White offered, "I don't think anybody expected the turnaround to happen in just two years, and obviously the opportunity and the pull to go back home, I understand the connection with one's alma mater."
"I understand his decision and now it's my job to prepare as I have been," White expressed. He said that the decision could take days or weeks, but probably not weeks.
"I think any good athletic director is proactive and prepared, and I can tell you I've been proactive and I've been prepared," White expressed as he now turns his focus to the next person that will helm the UCF football program and hopefully keep them trending up. "This is just a very desirable place to be."
Frost did not speak at White's press conference, but did say after the game that he will probably retire back in Orlando, Florida, and that he does not see himself selling his house. He offered thanks to the university, the city, and the community.
And any person within the University of Central Florida, the city of Orlando, and/or in the surrounding area should give the same back.
Frost took a school that was hanging their heads and told his student-athletes to turn their heads, instead, toward the sky.
He loved them up, in a time where they were surrounded by hate.
It is easy at a time like this to be angry and spread hate, but that would negate all the work that Frost did almost as if he was never at UCF.
You can focus on the departure or you can focus on the two years of positive change.
You can spread hate or offer love.
It is ultimately your choice, just as it ultimately was his.
No one knows where UCF will go from here, but I would venture to say that no one knew they would go from 0-12 to 12-0 just two years into a new coach.
Wish Frost well and focus on the next step. It is easier said than done, and yet probably not as hard as elevating to the crown of the conference after appearing to be a pauper just a short time ago.